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Morning Briefing Strap Line
Wed 6th Apr 2016 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Iqbal Wahhab – National Living Wage will lead to closure of ‘thousands of restaurants’: Iqbal Wahhab, founder of the Cinnamon Club and Roast restaurants, has said the National Living Wage will lead to the closure of “thousands of restaurants”. Wahhab has accused chancellor George Osborne of failing to understand how the industry works and the new pay rules will force restaurants into arguments with their customers. He told the Evening Standard: “The government’s new measures are going to set us up for an argument with our customers that we would rather not have because it falsely puts us on the back foot. On the face of it, it sounds like a good thing to pay people more so they can afford to live better – what’s not to like? Restaurant economics are a complicated business but in short it’s not at all easy to make a profit. As it is, a staggering number of restaurants never manage to get through their first year and it is expected that the implementation of these new measures will affect the hospitality business the most as restaurants cannot keep absorbing the costs of running their businesses, and their customers will largely (if you’re not in Mayfair) resist the inevitable price rises. It is expected, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), that 60,000 jobs will be lost as a direct result of these new measures. If the OBR is saying 60,000 people will lose their livelihoods as a direct consequence of these measures, we can safely presume the real number will be much higher. Hundreds, if not thousands, of restaurants will close and their supply chains will see a knock-on drop in trade that will result in further job losses and business closures. The chancellor isn’t in effect asking us, the operators, to take the hit. Even he knows we can’t afford that. He wants you, the customer, to pay for it. He wants us to push up our prices and expects you to foot a significantly higher bill. And, of course, most of you won’t. You’ll think we’re being greedy and we will say we’ve absorbed many punches over the years to support our farmers and producers with whom we are very proud to be associated. Restaurants are not the bogeyman here. It’s the chancellor’s failure to know how our businesses operate.” 

Industry News:

Jonathan Downey sets out progress in developing a UK and international food market business: The next audio recording to be sent to Propel Premium subscribers will feature London Union co-founder Jonathan Downey. In the recording, which will be sent out this week, Downey sets out progress in developing a network of 12 London neighbourhood markets, development of the business internationally, how the model is working for traders, and projected figures for the current year. 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. 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, 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
JD Wetherspoon may have ‘missed the boat’ in plans to conquer Ireland: Irish Times correspondent Mark Paul has said JD Wetherspoon may have missed the boat in its plans to conquer Ireland. Founder Tim Martin announced in 2013 JD Wetherspoon would open 30 pubs in Ireland, but Paul said the company should have struck decisively when the banks that backed the sector were selling off pub loans, when JD Wetherspoon “could have plucked an entire portfolio”. JD Wetherspoon has five pubs in Ireland but faces opposition to plans for venues in Dublin and Waterford. It secured permission for a site in Carlow and has plans for another in Cork and a large site at a former church in Abbey Street, Dublin. Paul said: “By this time next year, Wetherspoon will have about ten outlets. But it won’t get the next 20 too easily. Wetherspoon paid €1.475m, almost four times the guide price, for the Abbey Street church, which it will join with an adjacent site for which it paid €1.5m. That’s far more than its average cost of site development in the UK. Pubs in good locations are expensive and sought-after now. Wetherspoon should have struck decisively when the banks that backed the sector during the boom – Ulster Bank and Lloyds/Bank of Scotland – were selling off pub loans as they deleveraged a few years ago. It could have plucked an entire portfolio and gained immediate scale, albeit appearing to profit from the misery of distressed local borrowers. Now, it faces competition from a slew of private equity-backed local buyers for every decent pub that comes on the market. Wetherspoon may eventually build a nice little Irish pub business, if it perseveres. But it won’t be cheap.”
Pepsi launching craft cola product in US: Pepsi is launching “1893” in the US, a craft version of its traditional cola product. Described by the brand as “a blend of premium cola nut extract, real sugar and sparkling water”, it will be available in original and ginger cola flavour. The 1893 drink will debut a US television spot in April. Besides being drunk as a standalone beverage, the brand also hopes it will be used to complement cocktails. According to Chad Stubbs, vice-president of marketing at Pepsi, it was inspired by increased consumer interest in craft, as well as its heritage. “We were energised by the food revolution, and inspired by consumer interest in bold and interesting taste combinations,” he said. “We were also motivated by our past, so we created these unique 1893 taste experiences to honour the passion of our founder, Caleb Bradham.” Pepsi is the first major soft drinks manufacturer to launch a craft product.
Starbucks customers launch class action over underfilled coffee cups: Starbucks customers have launched a class action claim that Starbucks in the US is underfilling coffee cups. The class action lawsuit filed in a federal district court in northern California claimed the coffee chain underfills its lattes by 25% to save money on milk. “Starbucks lattes are made from a standardised recipe, which Starbucks instituted in 2009 to save on the cost of milk – one of its most expensive ingredients,” said the court document. The suit also claimed the cups are not large enough to contain the amount of coffee that is advertised on its menu. The suit said ordering a 16-ounce grande is more like drinking a 12-ounce tall latte. “By underfilling its lattes, thereby short-changing its customers, Starbucks has saved countless millions of dollars in the cost of goods sold and was unjustly enriched by taking payment for more product than it delivers,” it said. The suit claimed latte customers are owed more than $5m in losses. Starbucks stated: “We are aware of the plaintiffs’ claims, which we fully believe to be without merit. We are proud to serve our customers high-quality, handcrafted and customised beverages. Hand-prepared beverages increase the likelihood of variations, as disclosed in the nutritional section of our website. Customers often prescribe for us how they want their beverage prepared (eg with room, extra foam), therefore beverage volumes are largely collaborative. If a customer is unhappy with their beverage preparation then we are happy to remake it to their satisfaction.”
Doncaster is best place to get a proper pint in Britain as report highlights north/south divide: Doncaster is the best place to get a properly pulled pint, while there is a north/south divide when it comes to the quality of beer in Britain, according to a new report by Vianet and Cask Marque. The report stated pubs in the north were more likely to keep their beer in best condition and serve it through clean pipes. In Doncaster, there was less than a one in five chance of a bad pint, while in Reading it was one in every two pints. The report also stated across the country one in three pints served in pubs is drawn through pipes that are not regularly cleaned – affecting both quality and quantity sold from each barrel, which could cost the industry more than £300m a year in lost profits. Checks were carried out at more than 20,000 pubs, with those failing to clean pipes regularly losing an average of 50 barrels a year, according to the report. Vianet managing director Steven Alton said: “For many operators, there remains significant untapped profit from their existing beer sales.”
Herald Scotland – Diageo tried to buy university research to support its flagship social responsibility scheme: The Herald Scotland newspaper has reported Diageo has been accused of trying to “buy” academic research from a university to back up its flagship social responsibility scheme. Diageo wanted academics to show how “effective and worthwhile” its Learning for Life (LFL) initiative had been, but a Scottish higher education institution snubbed the offer. According to the Diageo website, LFL is a programme “designed to inspire and transform the lives of people throughout the different communities”. It focuses on adult education and provides training and skills in hospitality, retail, entrepreneurship and bartending. Emails obtained by the Herald showed Diageo was interested in getting university researchers to give the scheme a seal of approval. Diageo sent its brief to the Edinburgh-based Interface organisation, a matchmaking service for business and universities, which contacted the University of the West of Scotland (UWS). It stated: “Diageo would like to work with a university partner to extend this research to build on the initial data and demonstrate further how effective and worthwhile Diageo’s investment is in the initiative.” Internal UWS email exchanges revealed the approach was greeted with scepticism. One researcher wrote: “I think it would be interesting to look at their data and the programme but perhaps any proper neutrality on the part of the researcher might be unwelcome. From a critical social policy perspective, I can also think of a few doubts about a multinational alcohol company setting up privately run welfare-to-work schemes.”

AccorHotels acquires UK’s ‘upmarket Airbnb’ Onefinestay for £117m: Onefinestay, a UK start-up that offers luxury Airbnb-style holiday rentals, has been acquired by French hotel group AccorHotels for £117m. Onefinestay, founded in 2010 with £56m of venture capital backing, will remain as a separate business unit within AccorHotels and will continue to be led by co-founder and chief executive Greg Marsh. He told City AM: “AccorHotels’ investment in Onefinestay is a tremendous invitation for us to write the next chapter in our story. We share their deeply held conviction about the scale of the home rental opportunity and greatly value their expertise, and their practical and financial support as we plan the launch of more than 40 new markets over the next five years.” AccorHotels will invest another £50m in Onefinestay’s global expansion. It currently employs more than 700 people and operates in London, Los Angeles, New York, and Paris, as well as recently expanding to Rome. Accor chairman and chief executive Sebastian Bazin said: “Onefinestay has successfully captured a sweet spot: a combination of needs that neither traditional hotels nor new actors of the sharing economy can meet. With the acquisition of this exceptional brand, unique operating model and outstanding management team, AccorHotels is developing as the worldwide leader of the serviced homes market.”
Licensing update: Licensing solicitors John Gaunt & Partners produce a useful monthly summary of topical issues and the latest can be accessed here

Company News:

Tokyo Industries strikes deal for Brazilian rodizio restaurant concept to open at Brew Haus site in Lincoln: Tokyo Industries, led by Aaron Mellor, has struck a deal for a Brazilian rodizio restaurant concept to open at its Brew Haus site in Lincoln. The company is set to welcome Norwich-based House of Tiagos to the Silver Street venue. Serious Investment, which launched the concept last year, is remodelling and rebranding the Brew Haus bar, as The House and Bar of Tiago. It will run the eatery alongside the existing Brew Haus bar after striking a rental deal with its owner Tokyo Industries, creating 15 additional jobs. Investors have already ordered an £8,000 grill from Brazil and hope to have the new restaurant up and running some time in May. The menu will offer up to 16 different meats and the chance to enjoy both a hot and cold buffet. Carvers will pass from table to table and cut up meat in front of customers in true Brazilian rodizio style. Serious Investment operations director Charlie Hewitt told the Lincolnshire Echo: “We are very happy to be expanding into Lincoln. We can’t wait to get started and are excited to start running a successful business for everyone to enjoy.” The Brew Haus bar will continue to be run as normal and existing staff will remain in their positions.
Pizza Hut ‘reaping rewards of improved customer service’ following IT investment: Pizza Hut has said it was “reaping the benefits of improved customer service” following an IT investment made in 2014. The company brought in technology support company Retail Assist to allow staff at its 270 UK restaurants to access 24-hour assistance seven days a week. Staff can contact the support service as and when issues arise, which it said had been particularly relevant for outlets that trade late into the night to service online orders. Service delivery manager Bill Parker told Essential Retail: “We were looking for a one-stop shop where our restaurants could report and have resolved any IT-related issues and queries that they experienced; a single point of contact where we could log all calls, who could then fix the issues where possible and manage through to resolution those calls which had to be dealt with by the internal Pizza Hut IT team or escalated to third parties.” Meanwhile, the company has also signed a deal with recruitment software provider TribePad to use the vendor’s technology when sourcing new staff.
JD Wetherspoon to close Milton Keynes pub on Sunday, not part of any disposal package: JD Wetherspoon is to close The David Garrick in Milton Keynes on Sunday (10 April). The company has confirmed the Savoy Crescent pub will be shut and then a decision would be made whether to sell. It is part of the Theatre District and has served as a spot for lunches and dinner, as well as a late-night venue for many on Friday and Saturday nights. Spokesman Eddie Gershon told Propel the site was not part of a package of disposals and there would be no job losses. The company, which has three other sites in Milton Keynes, has closed a number of sites in the past few months, including The Forum in Lincoln and the London Hatter in Luton. Earlier this week, Hawthorn Leisure announced it was buying 11 town centre managed pubs from JD Wetherspoon. 

Brasserie Bar Co to open White Brasserie venue in Cheshire, first site outside south of England: Brasserie Bar Co is to open its first White Brasserie venue outside the south of England – on the outskirts of Alderley Edge in Cheshire. The Oakwood will open this summer at a site in Brook Lane previously occupied by a Greene King-owned Loch Fyne venue. Loch Fyne was built into a nationwide chain by Mark Derry and Ian Glyn, who also helped celebrity chef Raymond Blanc establish the Brasserie Blanc brand. The other nine White Brasserie sites are in Berkhamstead, Chobham, Cobham, Guildford, Harrow, Locksbottom, Ruislip, Teddington, and Weybridge. Greene King is exploring plans to sell its Loch Fyne brand, The Sunday Times reported last week.
Good Food Society founders to launch Turkish street food restaurant concept in Marylebone: Yosma, a new Turkish meyhane and mangal concept, serving Istanbul-inspired street food with a raki bar, is set to open in June in Marylebone, London. The 150-cover, premium casual eatery comes from restaurateurs Levent Buyukugur and Sanjay Nandi, founders of The Good Food Society. The 4,814 square foot venue in Baker Street will replace Indali Lounge. Yosma marketing and communications manager Amy Lau said: “The Good Food Society is renowned for opening the highly-acclaimed Ristorante Frescobaldi London in Mayfair with Italy’s oldest wine dynasty, the Frescobaldis. For their second project, Yosma, they have partnered with a rising head chef of the London restaurant scene, Hus Vedat, previously of Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa.” Agent Restaurant Property advised on the sale. The rent is undisclosed with a lease on assignment until 2024. Restaurant Property head of sales Sally French said: “We are delighted to be part of this exciting deal – Marylebone is fast becoming one of London’s hottest dining destinations.”
Firebrand Brewing Co raises £140,000 as it completes crowdfunding campaign: Cornwall-based Firebrand Brewing Co has completed its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to buy new equipment as it scales up to its next level of production. The company, founded by Joe Thomson and Stephen Medlicott in 2008, aimed to raise £125,000 and has now closed the campaign having raised £140,360 from 238 investors in return for a 20% equity stake. The largest investment was £15,000. The pitch stated: “The funding from this round of investment shall be used firstly to commission our new 25BBL brewery, which we have already obtained on hire purchase, however we need to purchase further equipment and installation costs. Secondly, the funding shall be used for working capital, as meeting demand and stock shortfalls have been our biggest problem. Firebrand hopes to look at options for selling the business or expanding further in around year four from now.”
Five Guys signs for Newport shopping centre site, fourth in Wales: Five Guys has signed to open a site at the Friars Walk shopping centre in Newport – its fourth restaurant in Wales. The company has taken a 3,000 square foot unit at the £117m development, which was opened last November by Queensberry Real Estate. The restaurant, due to open in June, will sit opposite a 90,000 square foot Debenhams, Friars Walk’s main anchor, on the corner of Upper Dock Street. Five Guys UK chief executive John Eckbert told the South Wales Argus: “Since launching in the UK in 2013, Five Guys has received a cult-like following across the country and just last month Five Guys was named Britain’s favourite restaurant, so we’re delighted to be opening our 47th restaurant in Newport’s vibrant city centre to become the burger of choice for locals and visitors alike.” Stuart Harris, director and co-founder of Queensberry Real Estate, added: “We have worked hard to create a mix of restaurant operators that meet the demands of Newport’s existing customers, while attracting new visitors to the area. Five Guys, with its popular concept and recognised brand, is a great fit and a perfect complement for the other 12 family restaurants on offer.” Five Guys, founded by Jerry Murrell in the US in 1986, has three other restaurants in Wales – two in Cardiff and one in Swansea.
Enterprise Inns tied leasehold sold off £250,000 premium asking price: An Enterprise Inns leasehold site, La Cloche at the Lion pub in Teddington, south west London, has been assigned by agent Davis Coffer Lyons to leisure and hotels entrepreneur Tommy Moran, of Moran Hospitality. The premises are held on the remainder of a 15-year Enterprise Inns FRI lease, which has ten years remaining, at a passing rent of £41,402 per annum. It was purchased from a private vendor off an asking price of £250,000 premium. Connie Start, associate director at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “La Cloche is a popular and well-presented pub with an established food-led offer in the affluent suburbs of Teddington and Hampton Wick. This is a profitable business both within the community and as a destination, which often benefits from lucrative corporate bookings. I am sure Mr Moran will continue to drive its success.”
SSP wins £90m Düsseldorf Airport contract, first Jamie Oliver sites to open in Germany: UK-based transport hub food and beverage specialist SSP has been awarded a seven-year contract worth £90m to operate eight food and beverage outlets, as well as a state-of-the-art conference centre, at Düsseldorf Airport in Germany. The company will open the outlets between 2017 and 2019. It will pave the way for a number of firsts for Germany, including two concepts from Jamie Oliver – Jamie’s Deli and Jamie’s Coffee Van. In addition, SSP will be opening a new concept by German television chef Tim Mälzer called Hausmann’s – a full service restaurant, designed in vintage style that will serve a contemporary German menu. It will also operate French-inspired cafe and patisserie Epi, Italian family restaurant “4 Cani” and KFC. The brand mix will be completed by two bespoke concepts showcasing the cuisine and culture of the Düsseldorf area – Carls, named after the city’s famous Carlsplatz food market, which is a modern-style cafe and bar, where travellers can order via tablets and are entertained by an oversized interactive LCD screen, and Middle Eastern restaurant Mosaic. SSP Dach and Frabel chief executive Cornelius Everke said: “SSP has been operating at Düsseldorf Airport for many years, and we are delighted to be building on our relationship with the team here as the airport moves into a new era. Our offer has been designed to help Düsseldorf Airport achieve its ambition to be North Rhine-Westphalia’s ‘gateway to the world’. We are certain that this outstanding brand mix will provide a highly engaging experience for passengers at the airport.” Düsseldorf Airport managing director Thomas Schnalke added: “With SSP as a main food and beverage tenant going forward, we are strengthening our reputation as an airport where passengers can be entertained on their journey. We are also delighted that SSP will operate our 3,000 square metre premium DUS conference centre, a modern concept, which will set a benchmark within our industry.” 
Liberation Group opens £1.4m The Square in Jersey: The Channel Islands brewer and retailer Liberation Group has opened its new £1.4m venue The Square in St Helier, Jersey. The Square is the cornerstone of a new development in the Weighbridge quarter, which features a large public square and the Jersey Museum & Art Gallery as well as a number of other bars and clubs. Set on the ground floor of the restored former Southampton Hotel, The Square has seating for 110 and further capacity for 30 standing at the bar, as well as a new al-fresco area. The Square is open until 1am from Wednesday to Saturday and will take food orders until 10pm seven days a week. Liberation Group has installed a Josper solid fuel enclosed grill with self-cleaning extractor canopies for in-house smoking of food. The menu features locally sourced seafood, steaks and barbecue dishes, as well as an afternoon menu and Sunday brunch. Operations director Kenrick Brooks, who oversaw the project, said: “It’s a one-off because it would only work well in this location, right at the heart of the night-time scene in Jersey but equally perfectly located for business lunches, or for relaxing when there is something going on in Weighbridge Square opposite.” Chief executive Mark Crowther added: “We continue to pursue a strategy of investment in high quality pubs, bars and restaurants, either through refurbishment or acquisition.”
Abokado to open 26th site in Hatton Garden in June, 27th expected to follow by July: Abokado, the healthy eating chain, has signed a lease for its 26th site in London within the famous jewellery quarter of Hatton Garden. The company said the new outlet is expected to open in early June while further sites are in legals or under offer with the 27th store at an undisclosed location expected to open by July. Founder Mark Lilley said: “We’re really excited to bring our ‘Feel Great’ menu to what is an iconic part of town. Our beautiful, sparkly products will complement the jewels and diamonds of Hatton Garden really well!”
BrewDog outlines distillery benefits of Equity for Punks IV fund-raising platform: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has revealed further details of one of the benefits of its Equity for Punks IV fund-raising platform – an incentive programme linked to is forthcoming Lone Wolf Distillery called its Lone Wolf Founders Club. Benefits are available to those investing £5,000, £10,000, £20,000 and £50,000. They also stack, so if someone invests £20,000, they can choose a reward from each of the £5,000, £10,000 and £20,000 tiers. Those who invest £5,000 in Lone Wolf Founders Club receive a limited edition, numbered case of the first vodka and gin BrewDog’s distillery produces, plus a case of single-cask Lone Wolf whisky. Investing £10,000 will get investors a case of the first bottling run of Lone Wolf whisky, a case of single-cask Lone Wolf whisky that will not be sold publicly. For £20,000, investors get a quarter barrel cask of Lone Wolf whisky and a choice of how long it should be aged and when it is bottled, plus an invitation to design their own gin, distill it, and receive four cases. For those who invest the top tier £50,000, investors receive a full barrel cask of Lone Wolf whisky, “again aged and bottled exactly on your say-so”, their own cask with the contents of their choice, as well as designing their own gin, distilling it in BrewDog’s Ellon facility and receiving four cases. Equity for Punks IV closes on Thursday, 21 April.
Benugo launches within Institute of Directors’ Pall Mall headquarters: Cafe-deli and restaurant operator Benugo has begun operations within the Pall Mall headquarters of the Institute of Directors (IoD). Benugo has revamped the menu in all three lounges – the Directors’ Room, Morning Room and Spears Room – while the menu at IoD’s restaurant, wine bar and Cafe Duke venues within the building will change later this year. IoD chairwoman Lady Barbara Judge said: “As a self-confessed foodie (and restaurant reviewer for Forbes) I am so excited about the IoD’s new relationship. Benugo’s modern, fresh, healthy menus and passion for locally sourced and organic food will enliven any member’s visit to the IoD.” Benugo operates restaurants in some of the UK’s most renowned organisations, including the British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, the Barbican, Natural History Museum, the English National Opera and John Lewis. 116 Pall Mall, which houses the IoD headquarters, is a grade I-listed building designed by John Nash, the architect responsible for much of the layout of Regency London.
3Sixty Restaurants acquires former Orchid pub in Cannock for Ego brand: 3Sixty Restaurants, led by James Horler, has secured a pub in Cannock, Staffordshire, for its Ego brand. The company has acquired the former Orchid “All-Inns” pub Tumble Down Farm from Mitchells & Butlers. The Four Crosses Lane site will close next Friday (15 April) and be converted into the Mediterranean restaurant and bar, which is set to open at the end of May, reports the Cannock Mercury. In a statement the pub company said: “Tumbledown Farm has been acquired by Ego Restaurants. It already has a strong presence in Staffordshire, with venues in Lichfield and Stockton Brook. Ego at Tumbledown Farm is scheduled to open towards the end of May.”

New Scottish restaurant concept Norn to launch in Edinburgh: Scott Smith, a protégé of Michelin-starred Geoffrey Smeddle, will launch Scottish restaurant concept Norn in Edinburgh in early May. Norn, a 36-cover restaurant, will take over the site of The Plumed Horse in Henderson Street in the city’s culinary quarter and is named after an ancient Scottish language, the Daily Record reports. The restaurant’s ethos is to honour Scotland’s food landscape and heritage and will offer a fixed set menu of four or seven courses that will change seasonally to reflect the best of Scotland’s natural produce, both wild and cultivated. Smith has spent the past 18 months sourcing local producers, including butchers, foragers, farmers, fish and seafood specialists. The menu will be dictated by suppliers and what the chefs harvest themselves on regular foraging trips. The wine list will be looked after by sommelier Sandro Colavolpe, who joins from Brawn in London, with wines sourced from small, artisanal winemakers. The venue will feature an ash wood bar and an open kitchen.

Meantime appoints nine new sales managers following continued growth and demand: Meantime, the Greenwich-based craft brewer, has appointed nine new sales managers to its national team following continued growth and demand for its beers in the on-trade. Four of the new roles will be focused on London and the Home Counties. The others will cover key cities – Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow, Brighton, and Bristol. The sales managers will continue to support existing on-trade outlets, whilst also building new relationships to drive ambitious growth. Sales director Mel Smith said: “Meantime has been at the forefront of modern craft since we were founded back in 1999, and the demand for quality beers has grown exponentially in that time. Four years ago we formed our sales team in London with just four managers, but with close customer relationships at the heart of our business, we will continue to focus on supporting our customers as our footprint grows. It’s exciting times, in 2015 we secured our 2,000th tap listing, which was a major milestone, and we know we can keep the momentum with such a quality brand, product and team. We have a really strong and passionate team and the appointment of nine new ambassadors provides us with a huge opportunity to continue to offer our range of quality craft beers to drinkers wherever they live in the UK.”

Newcastle-based Tyne Bank Brewery launches £150,000 crowfunding campaign after outgrowing premises: Newcastle-based Tyne Bank Brewery has launched a £150,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube after outgrowing its current premises. The company, founded by Julia Austin and that has part of the founding management team of Black Sheep Brewery, Pat Green, as a director, is offering a 9.09% equity stake in return for the investment. The pitch states: “Tyne Bank Brewery’s growth has been based on our strong brand and focus on quality craft beers. This has led us to outgrow our current premises in under five years. Instead of just moving to another slightly bigger unit, we want to be ambitious and significantly scale up production. We have identified a new building, which we feel is perfect for a visitor attraction brewery with the addition of a craft beer tap room and event space. It also has space to house a kegging, bottling and canning line. Our own experience in the market suggests a shortage of short run canning capacity and as such we envisage this new arm of the brewery becoming very successful. The business plan assumes continued growth in existing sales streams, online, and export sales along with incremental growth generated by onsite sales from the craft tap room and event space. We are forcasting turnover to increase from £342,000 to £1.3m in 2020 with a net profit of 18%. The packaging line would increase that turnover even further to £1.7m with a net profit of 19%. Tyne Bank is seeking to raise £150,000 to contribute towards the cost of our plans – to refit the building, relocate equipment, upgrade and expand the existing brewery. In addition we want to fit out the tap room and events space and install the bottle, keg and canning plant.”

New Polish restaurant concept opens in Hereford: A new Polish restaurant concept has opened in Hereford. Kate Jankowska has launched PRL – standing for Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa (Polish People’s Republic) – that was the official name of Poland between 1952 and 1989 while under communist rule. The restaurant, which can seat up to 30 diners, has opened in St Owen Street. Jankowska, who is originally from Wroclaw, previously ran a small cafe in nearby Leominster but decided to move to Hereford where there was a much bigger Polish community. She told the Hereford Times: “I was born in the 1980s and Poland was a communist country back then. And that was a very hard time but my memories are very good of this time. That’s the time when I have got my first memories. I do my best and I think I’m working really hard to create a new menu and new dishes because I think what I’m doing isn’t what others can do. They are all my dishes.”
Tasty lodges plans to open Wildwood in Kettering: Tasty has lodged plans to open a Wildwood restaurant in Kettering, Northamptonshire. The company has submitted an application to convert the discount department store Mister Ray into a restaurant with cinema exclusively for diners, creating ten full-time and eight part-time jobs. It plans to house the restaurant on the ground floor of the Market Place site with a diner’s cinema and small bar upstairs, reports the Northamptonshire Telegraph. The application said: “The cinema is only open to diners with the idea being that, after dinner, customers can if they wish have a drink from the bar and watch a film. It will not be open to the general public, and as such we see it as ancillary to the restaurant.” The restaurant would be open from 11am to 11.30pm from Monday to Saturday, closing at 10.30pm on Sundays and bank holidays.
Listed Pembrokeshire hotel enters market for first time in three decades, auction price £2m-£3m: The Warpool Court Hotel in Pembrokeshire will be auctioned in June for a guide price of £2m-£3m. The privately owned, grade II-listed, 22-bedroom hotel was voted in the top ten World Hotel Room Views by the Sunday Times. On the St David’s Peninsula in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, the hotel is set in 15 acres with terraced gardens to the sea and has an indoor pool. Current owner Peter Trier, 69, told Wales Online: “I acquired Warpool Court in January 1985, not only because of its unique location but also as a lifestyle choice. Initially, I set myself a limit of ten years of ownership.” Warpool Court was built in 1870 for Reverend Alfred Green, headmaster of St David’s Cathedral Choir School. Estate agents JJ Morris has set the auction for Saturday, 18 June.
Six-year renovation project for Blackpool Tower is complete: The £6m project to repaint and repair Blackpool Tower has been completed after eight years. Scaffolding has covered the 518-foot landmark since the project began in 2008 but has now been removed in its entirety. Blackpool Tower is operated by European entertainment company Merlin Entertainments. Kate Shane, head of Merlin Entertainments’ Blackpool cluster attractions, said: “It was an emotional moment for myself and the team to look at the tower standing in all her resplendent glory. But it goes beyond that too, it’s a fundamental moment for Merlin Entertainments Blackpool and the resort itself, as the tower is a loved landmark for both residents and visitors, playing a vital part in visitor numbers to Blackpool. As well as the tower standing proud for all to see, it is an investment in the future and has protected one of Britain’s most famous and iconic structures, preserving it for future generations.”
Brothers Drinks buys bottling line: Brothers Drinks has acquired a bottling line at the historic Shepton Mallet cider mill in Somerset but a buyer is still being sought for the main site. Owner C&C Group previously confirmed that production was to cease at the 240-year-old facility, putting more than 120 jobs at risk. The first 40 redundancies were announced last month. Production at the mill is set to end this summer, transferring to the group’s manufacturing site in Clonmel, Tipperary, where Bulmers and Magners cider is produced. The Unite union has now confirmed Brothers has acquired the line, located across the road from the main site, but that a buyer was still being sought to preserve jobs. Unite regional co-ordinating officer Steve Preddy said: “While we are pleased that the line has been sold to the makers of Brothers Cider, also based in Shepton Mallet, there is still an urgent need for a buyer for the main site. We are pleased that there will be an unspecified number of new jobs working on the Brothers line – these are totally new jobs with this company. However, it does not resolve the issue that 127 workers at the profitable Shepton Mallet cider mill face being made redundant at the end of the summer.” According to Unite, the £6m bottling line has never been used.
Papa John’s franchisees open second site in Merthyr Tydfil, plan three more in Wales within next year: Papa John’s franchisees John O’Brien and brothers Clif and Dale Roberson have opened their second site, this time in Merthyr Tydfil, and are planning three further stores within Wales in the next year. The trio of local school friends, turned entrepreneurs, have launched the venue in the High Street, which features an elevated decking and seating area. Former maths teacher O’Brien said: “We opened our first store in Cwmbran at the end of 2015 and sales quickly added up to way higher than our expectations! The company’s television advertising campaign has been great to raise awareness and now we have opened in Merthyr Tydfil in an amazing high-street location, right on the main square. Although Clif, Dale and myself run the stores, our team is the sum total of what we have achieved so far. My son Liam is the new manager of Merthyr Tydfil plus a number of the staff were trained in Cwmbran so they could gain hands-on experience before we opened the new outlet.” 
Northern Ireland-based pub operators acquire Bangor bar and restaurant: Northern Ireland-based pub operators Andrew and Johnny Gedge have bought the Ava bar and restaurant in Bangor. They have acquired the site from the Hillen family, which has owned it for more than 80 years. The brothers – who also run the Frisky Bear in Holywood as well as the Goat’s Toe and the Hop House in Bangor – will be closing their existing restaurant the Corin in the town. The Gedges plan to spend £350,000 on revamping the High Street venue – bringing the total investment on the site to well over £1m. The Corin will be adapted to return as a more casual venue called Corin’s Kitchen upstairs in the Ava complex in July. The Gedge brothers employ about 150 people and said the jobs of 15 staff at the Ava were safe. Andrew Gedge told the Belfast Telegraph: “We will be able to increase our volume up to 80 tables. Before, we weren’t able to turn tables properly as the Corin was too small. We were booked out every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night and couldn’t take on any more customers whereas the Ava is much bigger. When you’ve the same family running things for so long, things are done in the same way so we will be putting a new set of eyes on it.”
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 this 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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