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Thu 14th Apr 2016 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day: 

National Living Wage – Samuel Smith’s adds 10p to 12p a pint, Eat cuts lunch pay for recipients: North Yorkshire-based brewer and retailer Samuel Smith’s is adding 10p to 12p a pint on some of its beers to cover the cost of the National Living Wage. The company has agreed the 12p rise for Taddy lager, with 10p going on to the price of Old Brewery Bitter. The price of mild will stay the same. A brewery spokesman said he expected the price changes to be operational across the company’s 200 outlets by the end of this month. He stressed the rises were only the second by Samuel Smith’s in 20 years apart from those due to government duty increases. He confirmed the increases were to pay the National Living Wage to staff. As stocks of beer run down at current prices, the new levels will be introduced on replacement supplies, he added. Meanwhile, fresh food-to-go retailer Eat has stopped paying its staff for lunch breaks if they are receiving the National Living Wage in a move to offset costs. The company was paying staff £3.60 for their 30-minute break, the Daily Mail reports. The move comes days after Caffe Nero said its staff would lose their right to a free lunch as it slashed costs to pay for the National Living Wage. Eat said its staff had also been given a wage hike, which compensated them for no longer being paid during their lunch break. A spokesman said the average hourly rate at the firm was now £7.60 an hour, with 95% of employees receiving a pay rate in excess of the £7.20 National Living Wage. However, Labour MP and former shadow chancellor Chris Leslie warned firms that followed suit would face a backlash from staff and customers. He said: “This penny-pinching will erode morale and the goodwill of the staff affected. But it will also hit their reputation among customers and will drive them away. The odd panini or a few minutes at lunch is not going to ruin a company’s bottom line. It is a grave mistake for companies who rely on their staff day in, day out, to treat them like this.” The government introduced the National Living Wage on 1 April with people aged 25 and over now paid £7.20 an hour. 
 

Industry News:

Propel partners with Professor Chris Edger to launch new Brands Masterclass: Propel has partnered with the UK’s leading thinker and teacher on multi-site foodservice management Professor Chris Edger to launch a new Brands Masterclass to help create and evolve powerful brands. The event takes place on Friday, 10 June in the Chartered Accounts Hall at One Moorgate Place in London. Led by Edger, the all-day masterclass will showcase the advice of contemporary brand experts, who will address each aspect of a foodservice brand’s marketing mix. Each expert will deal with a specific dimension of brand longevity and success, making this programme an absolute must for UK foodservice brand leaders in 2016. The day will be split into three sessions to help delegates ensure their brands are evolved effectively to ensure long-term sustainability and success. Session one will cover leadership, proposition and product and will see Edger drawing on material from his newly-published book, co-written with Tony Hughes, senior independent director of The Restaurant Group, examining the leadership lifecycles of sustainable food brands. The session also features how to effectively differentiate a brand and its proposition and also create and evolve a compelling food and beverage offer. Session two will cover environment, estate and employer branding with Dan Einzig, founder of leading restaurant and brand design agency Mystery, looking at site design and creating a brand identity while insights firm CACI will explore how operators create a high quality estate. Former Orchid Group chief executive Rufus Hall will talk about creating a people-centric culture and the benefits of having an outstanding team ethos. The final session will look at execution and marketing with Dr Clinton Bantock, associate professor of the Academy of Multi-Unit Leadership, sharing how to achieve operational excellence while James Hacon, managing director of Elliotts, will look at examples of memorable marketing campaigns and the importance of rewarding loyal customers. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) members and £345 plus VAT for non-members. To book email anne.steele@propelinfo.com

Yummy Pub Company looks to hire chief to oversee random acts of kindness initiative: Pub operator Yummy Pub Company has launched a project to appoint a Londoner as its first “head of random acts of kindness”. Hailing it as “the world’s best job”, Yummy said it was seeking “London’s kindest, kookiest and cleverest person” to reward people for random acts of kindness. Yummy Pub Company co-owner Anthony Pender said: “Ever heard of the guy who put five dollar bills in library books, the cafe that opened its doors to stray dogs on cold winter nights or the man who gave away money to 35 people on his 35th birthday instead of asking for presents of his own? We have – and we love it. It’s about giving something to others for nothing in return but really, it’s not just a selfless act because it makes you feel good about yourself, too. We’re going to shower the country with random acts of kindness, big and small, as soon as we find the right person to lead the campaign and join our family.” Yummy Pub Company, headed up by Tim Foster, Pender and Jason Rowlands, operates six pubs – The Grove Ferry in Canterbury, The Somers Town Coffee House in Euston, the Gorringe Park in Tooting, the Wiremill near Lingfield, the Victoria in Mile End, and The Stoke Newington Tea House. Applicants for the new position should email jobs@yummypubs.co.uk
 
Porky’s to launch Crowdcube campaign to raise £650,000: Porky’s BBQ, one of London’s fastest-growing BBQ restaurant chains with five sites across the capital, is to seek £650,000 of investment via crowdfunding platform Crowdcube for its next phase of growth. The campaign will last 30 days and launches on Wednesday, 18 May. Porky’s BBQ is a family-run, Memphis-style restaurant with sites in Camden, Shoreditch, Bankside, Crouch End and a recently opened site in Chelsea. With about £100,000 turnover a week in London, the brand wishes to use this crowd-sourced investment to open two more sites this year alone. This will be the business’ first effort to gain outside investment after self-funding an impressive first three years of growth. The target raise will be £650,000 in exchange for a 6.5% equity stake of the business. Husband and wife team Simon and Joy Brigg developed the Porky’s concept after they visited Memphis on an American road trip. Simon Brigg said: “After a few short years of running the business ourselves, we would like to welcome more people to join us and claim their stake in a fast-growing brand. The next few years look exciting and we’re looking to triple the size of our business in the next three years, which is a very realistic prospect. We’re going to be offering exclusive incentives to investors and running events to show off the buzz that’s already surrounding the campaign.” The launch event on 18 May is at its Bankside venue. The campaign will then roll-out online and on the ground in restaurants, with investor relations’ events scheduled periodically throughout the raise.
 
European hotel industry reports increase in number of rooms under contract and in construction: The European hotel industry has reported an increase in the number of rooms under contract and in construction. STR Global’s March pipeline report revealed 163,943 rooms in 1,131 hotels under contract – up 17.9% on last year – while the 63,150 rooms in 448 hotels in construction is a 6.7% increase. Under contract includes projects in the “in construction”, “final planning” and “planning stages” but does not include projects in the “unconfirmed stage”. Among segments, upper midscale accounted for the largest portion of rooms under contract (23.7% with 38,806 rooms) and in construction (22.0% with 13,893 rooms). Two other segments each accounted for more than 15% of rooms under contract – upscale (19.5% with 32,050 rooms) and economy (16.8% with 27,614 rooms). In addition to upper midscale, three segments accounted for more than 15% of rooms in construction – upscale (21.6% with 13,636 rooms), upper upscale (17.9% with 11,288 rooms) and economy (17.7% to 11,155 rooms).
 
NPD Group – Britain’s thirst for coffee swamps tea purchases out of home: Out-of-home coffee purchases are swamping those of tea in Britain, according to new figures by market research firm The NPD Group, with speciality coffees accounting for the lion’s share (77%) of the market and a huge rise in drinks purchased from petrol stations. For every cup of tea drunk out of home, two-and-a-half cups of coffee are consumed, NPD said. Tea consumption is almost 19% down on 2010 and accounts for only 27% of all out-of-home hot beverage servings in Britain, down from almost one-third (31.5%) in 2010. NPD said tea’s market share versus coffee had shrunk by more than 14% in that period. Britons drank 2.098 billion cups of coffee away from home in the year ending December 2015, a 4.3% rise or 87 million more cups more than the previous year. Consumers drank 874 million cups of tea in the same period, down 1.8% year-on-year. Britain is the only main European market where coffee consumption away from home has grown in the past five years, with purchases at petrol stations rising to almost 17 million cups in 2015, five million more than in 2012. The speciality tea market amounted to only 87 million servings for the year ending December 2015.
 
Table for one – 50% of all meals in UK eaten alone: Half of all meals in the UK are eaten alone, according to a study commissioned by national charity The Big Lunch, with 34% of respondents going a whole week without eating a meal with someone else. The study also found adults in the UK eat ten out of 21 meals a week alone on average, while more than two-thirds (69%) had never shared a meal with their neighbours. However, the majority of respondents claimed eating with others made them feel closer to each other. The study also found 37% had never eaten with a community group, while for a fifth of respondents, it had been more than six months since they shared a meal with parents. More than half of workers questioned rarely or never ate lunch with colleagues. Over-55s were most likely to eat alone of the age groups questioned. The Big Lunch worked with Oxford University professor of psychology Robin Dunbar on the study. He said: “In these increasingly fraught times, when community cohesion is ever more important, making time for and joining in communal meals is perhaps the single most important thing we can do – both for our own health and wellbeing and for that of the wider community.” The Big Lunch is the UK’s annual get-together for neighbours. This year’s event is on Sunday, 12 June on the Queen’s 90th birthday.
 
ALMR – NIC abolition for apprentices will encourage business growth but rule should be extended: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has said the government’s abolition of employer National Insurance contributions (NICs) for apprentices aged under 25 would boost businesses, but scrapping NICs for all under-25s would allow employers to continue growing both their businesses and their local economies. The ALMR called on the government to do more to encourage apprenticeships, including additional funding and bonuses for companies that took on an apprentice. The exemption, which came into effect on 6 April, applies to existing employers with apprentices and those taking on a new apprentice. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “This is a positive move from the government and should go some way to helping businesses invest in their staff and boost apprenticeship take-up. Scrapping NICs for apprentices under the age of 25 will reduce financial burdens for employers and allow them to push that money back into training and further employment. There is certainly more the government can do if they want to further encourage apprenticeships and reach their goal of three million. The ALMR has been pushing for measures to encourage apprenticeships, including additional funding and bonuses for those businesses that take on an apprentice. A similar scrapping of NICs which extends to all employees, not just apprentices, under the age of 25 would provide an even greater boost for employers and allow them to continue growing both their businesses and their local economies.” 
 
Unite union turns up heat on business secretary Sajid Javid over delayed ‘tipping abuse’ report: Unite has criticised business secretary Sajid Javid over the long delay in publishing his report into “tipping abuses”, which the union claims leaves waiters short-changed by bosses. Unite accused popular restaurant chains of pocketing a portion of tips instead of passing them on to staff, prompting Javid to launch an investigation last August. Unite submitted evidence to the inquiry calling for staff to be given 100% of tips with complete control over how they were shared out. Publicity sparked similar concerns over how service charges were shared out in four and five-star hotels. Unite activists in the hospitality industry will stage a protest today (Thursday, 14 April) urging the business secretary to deliver his report. Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull said: “This is Javid’s chance to bring justice to restaurant workers and customers alike. He needs to stop dithering and stamp out these rip-off practices once and for all.” 
 
Critically endangered fish species being sold in UK sushi restaurants, report finds: Critically endangered species of fish are being sold in UK sushi restaurants, according to new research. Overfished species of tuna and eel are among the dishes being served without consumers being aware due to inaccurate labelling, the study by scientists at the universities of Salford, Bristol and Exeter stated. Stefano Mariani, professor of conservation genetics at the University of Salford, told the Environment News Service: “The sale of rare fish species under generic terms such as ‘tuna’ or ‘eel’ hinders consumer choice with potentially damaging economic, health and environmental consequences. As consumers we are getting much better at demanding information in shops but we do not demand the same standards when eating out.” Scientists investigated 31 sushi restaurants in Manchester, London, Bristol, Liverpool, Exeter, and Newcastle between September 2014 and 2015, collecting 115 samples. DNA barcoding tests showed 10.4% of seafood was not correctly described on restaurant menus and, despite bluefin tuna being listed as critically endangered, the species was found on the menus of two restaurants. The EU is the largest single market for imported fish and fishery products, representing about 23% of world imports. Restaurants are not obliged to mention on their menu what species are being sold but are obliged to keep and give this information to the consumer if asked. 
 

Company News:

OHH Pub Company to reopen Devon pub owned by Enterprise Inns on Tuesday: OHH Pub Company, led by Mark Warburton and based in the West Country, will reopen the Enterprise Inns-owned The George in Braunton, Devon, on Tuesday (19 April) – its fourth site. The pub, which has been renamed The George Inn, has undergone a £350,000 refurbishment to make it a “destination venue” for locals and tourists alike. The building, which is in a conservation area, has been transformed with its two bars reshaped and restyled, kitchen revamped, and guest rooms upgraded, creating 20 jobs. The pub will offer up to five real ales, along with standard lagers, and is introducing an extensive wine list. Food will range from bar snacks to full meals. Warburton said: “We want people to see The George as a place for a special occasion, where they get high quality but good value and wouldn’t be averse to coming here twice a week. It’s important to us The George achieves the same five-star experience as at our other venues, whether that’s meeting up for a drink, dining or on a mini-break. The OHH brand is a collection of fine inns and we will have those standards at The George, offering a varied, very fresh menu to a level we hope will be to AA rosette standard or higher. We recognise the tremendous opportunity here which is why we have made this sizeable investment, and we are in it for the long-term.” Enterprise regional manager Kirsty Phillips added: “It’s really pleasing to see the building back to its best. The other OHH sites are absolutely lovely, developed to a really high standard with a great offer. We’re delighted to have them as a partner.”
 
James Martin appointed executive chef of Virgin Trains, new menu for East Coast service: Television presenter James Martin has been appointed executive chef of Virgin Trains, with a new range of seasonal menus to be rolled out for first class customers on its East Coast services from May. Standard class customers will receive more menu changes in the autumn, the company said. The new menus will showcase local flavours and champion producers on the East Coast route. Breakfast, casual dining and, on selected services, evening meals will all be revamped. The breakfast menu will feature an exclusive range of jams produced by Yorkshire-based The Fruity Kitchen, while the celebrity chef has also introduced a premium black pudding to be served alongside sausages, bacon and eggs. Casual dining offerings include Martin’s signature golden sultana sauce as an accompaniment to sausage rolls. Dishes on the evening menu include lemon and herb-roasted chicken, and a new chicken curry dish created in the celebrity chef’s development kitchen. Martin said: “I see this partnership as a real opportunity to open people’s eyes to the great food they could enjoy as they speed up the iconic East Coast line – and I feel the new menus we’re cooking up together will make it a truly enjoyable experience.”
 
Des McDonald to open £3m Japanese rooftop restaurant at Birmingham hotel this month: Restaurateur Des McDonald will open his £3m izakaya-style rooftop restaurant concept Rofuto at the new Park Regis Hotel in Birmingham on Tuesday, 26 April. The Japanese restaurant and accompanying cocktail lounge and sake bar, Kurabu, will be based on the 16th floor of the hotel and offer 360-degree views across the city skyline at more than 141 feet. Rofuto, which is a direct translation of the word “loft” in Japanese, features a large central bar, an open Japanese-style kitchen, and an eclectic mix of furnishings and hand-painted murals. He was inspired to open Rofuto following visits to Tokyo and Singapore and has developed every aspect of the concept, design and menu. The menu is divided into six sections: sushi and sashimi, tempura, robata grill, mains, sides, and desserts. Kurabu will offer an array of wines, beers and soft drinks, along with a bespoke cocktail list and sake offering to perfectly complement the Japanese cuisine. McDonald said: “I am delighted to be opening my first modern Japanese restaurant Rofuto, with my partners at Park Regis Birmingham. I love rooftop spaces, having opened four successful restaurants on the roof of Selfridges in London. I fell in love with the unparalleled dramatic views from the 16th floor, Birmingham is a great, vibrant city and I’m excited to become part of its dynamic and diverse dining scene.” McDonald, ex-Ivy head chef and former chief executive of Caprice Holdings, runs London restaurants Vintage Salt, Q Grill and Holborn Dining Room at the Rosewood Hotel as well as the Chapter House Bar and Refectory Kitchen & Terrace in York and The Printing Press Bar & Kitchen in Edinburgh.
 
Seafood Pub Company acquires eighth site: Seafood Pub Company has acquired its eighth site – the former Forest Inn in the village of Fence in Lancashire. The company has bought the Cuckstool Lane venue, which had been empty for a year and was on the market with Westlake and Co. It was initially put up for sale for £450,000 last summer, although the asking price had dropped to £400,000. The Forest Inn has a varied history – after closing, it traded as Italian restaurant and wine bar Barocco’s and more recently Indian restaurant Babar Elephant, before being closed and standing empty for the past year. Seafood Pub Company managing director Joycelyn Neve told the Burnley Express: “The venue has a fantastic history and reputation; we’re excited to bring this back to life, and really make the site work as a thriving pub for locals in the area and guests from further afield. Bedrooms will feature on-site, and there will be a beer garden for customers to relax and enjoy food and drink in the summer months. We’re hoping that the pub will reopen in August.” The company operates seven other venues, including the Barley Mow in Barley, the Assheton Arms in Downham, and the Oyster and Otter in Feniscowles.

Carluccio’s to open first site in McArthur Glen designer store in Cheshire: Carluccio’s will open its first Italian restaurant and food venue in a McArthur Glen luxury brands complex – at Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. The 3,700 square foot site will cater for 104 covers inside, plus 48 outside on a south-facing terrace, when it opens in May. The venue will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus coffee and snacks to go. Carluccio’s chief executive Neil Wickers said: “We’re looking forward to opening our first Carluccio’s at a McArthur Glen outlet and we’re sure Cheshire Oaks will be the perfect location for our all-day dining format. With a deli selection and takeaway coffee too, we offer a great mix for shoppers on the go.” The restaurant is the 96th Carluccio’s site in the UK and 117th worldwide and its opening will coincide with the launch of the first Carluccio’s restaurant in a hotel – at the Marriott Regents Park in London.
 
Llangollen landmark hotel on the market: The freehold of a landmark hotel in Llangollen, Wales, The Royal Hotel, overlooking the River Dee, is on the market for £1.1m through agent Fleurets. Having purchased the property in 2001 the current owner has run the property as a traditional hotel, whilst also developing a strong food-led service. Lesley Watmough, from Fleurets, said: “This is a stunning location and an attractive business where net turnover has picked up in 2015 to £456,000. There is potential to refurbish the current staff accommodation into a two-bedroom owner’s apartment and develop further commercial areas, such as the unutilised riverside function room. A viewing is strongly recommended.”
 
Chipotle to offer London Marathon finishers a free burrito: Chipotle Mexican Grill, which has seven restaurants across London, including Wimbledon, Soho, Islington and, most recently, The City, has announced it will reward those who complete the 2016 London Marathon with a free burrito on presentation of their finisher’s medal. Jacob Sumner, UK managing director for Chipotle, said: “We are committed to changing the way people think about and eat fast food, and we like to recognise our customers who go the extra mile. We are so happy to treat those who complete the 2016 London Marathon to a burrito on us.” Chipotle, which hails from the US where it operates more than 2,000 restaurants, opened its first restaurant outside North America in Charing Cross Road in central London in 2010.
 
Gloucester-based C&W African Experience to open second site in city next month: Gloucester-based restaurant C&W African Experience is to open its second site in the city next month. Co-owners Charlie Odhiambo and his wife Wanja, whose existing restaurant is in Westgate Street, are putting the finishing touches to the new venue at the grade II-listed three-storey Park House in Gloucester Park. The ground floor will be used as a lounge restaurant area with sofas and contemporary African-themed decor while the top two floors will be available for meetings and functions. Charlie Odhiambo told the Gloucester Citizen: “We had needed to grow for a long time because we were turning away people. We want an authentic African dining experience where you can relax. We have been busy. The building was never meant to be a restaurant so there’s been a lot of work to get it ready.” The new Gloucester Park restaurant will open for lunch and then for food and cocktails in the evenings from Tuesdays to Saturdays.
 
Aberdeen-based multi-siter acquires two pubs in city: Aberdeen-based multi-site operator Allan Henderson has acquired two pubs in the city. Henderson has bought the Ferryhill House Hotel in Ferryhill and the Fourmile House in Kingswells from George Lyon, who ran both venues for more than a decade with his wife Julie, who died last year. Henderson told The Press and Journal: “We currently operate three licensed premises in the city and we are pleased to be given the opportunity to add these two iconic venues to our portfolio. The Lyon family have established a great business and we are looking forward to building on these solid foundations.” Lyon added: “Over the past 14 years, my family and I have thoroughly enjoyed our time running two of the north-east’s most popular establishments. However we feel it is now the right time to move on. I am extremely delighted that both businesses are being acquired by a well-established, local, independent operator.” Henderson also owns No10 Bar and Restaurant, which was recently relaunched following a £100,000 refurbishment; McGinty’s Meal An’ Ale; and The Stag in Aberdeen city centre.
 
PizzaExpress opens third Liverpool site: PizzaExpress has opened its third site in Liverpool. The company has opened the restaurant on part of the former Blind School complex in Hope Street opposite the Philharmonic Hall, reports the Liverpool Echo. PizzaExpress is based in the basement and ground floor of the four-storey building next to 92 Degrees Coffee, which opened in the complex on the corner of Hardman Street and Hope Street in January. PizzaExpress’ other sites in the city are at the Liverpool ONE complex and by the Echo Arena.
 
BrewDog and Social Bite’s clean water craft label Brewgooder reaches crowdfunding target for first production run: Brewgooder, the world’s first clean water craft label launched by Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog and fellow Scots entrepreneurs Social Bite, has successfully crowdfunded its first production run. The campaign on crowdfunding platform Indiego has broken its £50,000 target three weeks after launching. Billed as the world’s first craft beer to donate 100% of its profits to clean water projects, the funds will allow for the production of the first 200,000 cans. Alan Mahon, who set up Brewgooder alongside Social Bite co-founder Josh Littlejohn, said: “We’ve been blown away by the support we’ve had since announcing the project – from our partners at BrewDog, who not only make it affordable for us to manufacture but have elevated our brand immediately by stocking it among their own range, to the generosity of Sir Tom Hunter who has provided valuable counsel on setting up Brewgooder and believing in the business from the start, and now has given us a real financial leg-up.” The first clean water project will be in Malawi with the installation of solar powered water pumps at the Nora Docherty School in a remote village in Dedza, where the brand’s crowdfunding film was shot earlier this year. The project will improve water access for a community of 2,000 people as well as the quality of education provided at the school, which also benefits from the Mary’s Meals school feeding programme.
 
Dodo Pub Co to open third site in Cheltenham, first outside Oxford: Oxford-based operator Dodo Pub Co is to open its third site and first outside the city in Cheltenham. The company, run by Chris Manners and Leo Johnson, is taking on The Quaich in St James Street. The pub, owned by Arkell’s Brewery, will close on Saturday (16 April) and undergo a six-figure refurbishment before reopening in the autumn as a gastro-pub. Manners told the Gloucestershire Echo: “We see Cheltenham as similar to Oxford in many ways. This pub has an excellent location, just off the main town centre. It’s a meeting place for the local community and we will be offering great beer and coffee as well as fantastic homemade burgers, pizzas and the like.” Dodo Pub Co runs The Rusty Bicycle and The Rickety Press in Oxford, which are also both owned by Arkell’s Brewery. Managing director George Arkell said: “Chris and Leo are fantastic landlords. We work really well as a team and I’m delighted that when Kevin Grieve, our excellent current landlord, decided to give up the tenancy, they came forward immediately with ideas and enthusiasm. I can’t wait to see the finished result.”
 
Bolton-based micro-brewery reveals expansion plans for micro-pubs and bars: Bolton-based micro-brewery Drink Up Brewing has revealed expansion plans for micro-pubs and bars across the area. The company, founded by Lewis Russell last year, is set to open a micro-pub in the nearby town of Horwich on the site of the former Zorbas takeaway in Lee Lane. In addition, Russell wants to open a bar in Bridge Street, Bolton, close to the former New York New York nightclub, in July. He also hopes to open another micro-pub in Westhoughton. He originally operated the brewery from premises in Longworth Road in Horwich but has since moved to a larger site in Raikes Clough Industrial Estate in Bolton. Russell told the Bolton News: “The place we are looking at in Bolton (for the bar) is pretty much okay as it is. We will sell our beers as well as other beers of the world. In Horwich our site used to be a takeaway so we have renovated it and worked to improve it. The micro-pubs will sell our beer. We will also have hot food upstairs. It is exciting, we hope to be able to expand not just in Bolton but nationwide.”
 
Zenith secures new £13.9m facility with Santander: Zenith Hygiene Group, the UK’s largest independent manufacturer of cleaning and hygiene chemicals, has secured a £13.9m banking facility from Santander. The new funding package provides Zenith Hygiene with a long-term banking facility to support the growth of the business in the UK and internationally. For two decades, Zenith has been a major supplier to a number of care homes, hospitals, food producers, hotels, bars and pubs, and national restaurant chains. The company has grown rapidly, consistently delivering positive growth in revenues over the past five years and significantly outperforming its sector peers. As a result, Zenith was named one of the “1,000 Companies to Inspire Britain” in the third edition of a report issued by the London Stock Exchange in February. The company has more than 3,200 customers and has a presence at more than 17,500 sites across the UK, including the Houses of Parliament. Ringo Francis, chief executive of Zenith Hygiene Group, said: “This new funding package demonstrates confidence in Zenith as a ‘growth business’ and allows us to have the right facilities in place for our future development. Our commitment to quality in the products and services that we deliver has been key to our success to date. The past 12 months have been particularly exciting with Zenith launching export activities in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and expanding domestically, as highlighted by our recent acquisition of Rose Hygiene Products. We have also had a number of new significant contract wins. Our strong growth combined with our new banking facility gives us confidence we will continue to drive the business forward in 2016.”
 
Boutique hotel site acquired for £15m: A grade II-listed former headquarters for Durham University that is set to be transformed into a four-star boutique hotel has been acquired for £15m. The Old Shire Hall at Old Elve was built in 1896 and has lain empty since the university vacated in 2012. Private equity fund manager Maven Capital Partners has acquired the property and will oversee the refurbishment to create the 81-bedroomed, four-star Hotel Indigo. Included in the project will be the establishment of an Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill. Ramsay Duff, investment director at Maven, who led the deal, said: “Maven is delighted to be involved in this prestigious project, bringing such a magnificent building back into use and allowing us to further develop our relationships with IHG and the hotel Indigo brand, Interstate and Marco Pierre White. We anticipate that the Hotel Indigo at the historic Shire Hall will not only become a must-visit destination, but also address the demand that exists in the city for more high-quality hotel accommodation.”
 
Marston’s opens new co-located hotel in Ipswich: Marston’s has added to its estate of co-located hotels with the opening of a new site in Ipswich. The new lodge, which has been built alongside the Mermaid, the group’s pub-restaurant in Yarmouth Road, close to the junction with London Road, has resulted in the creation of 15 additional jobs. It has a total of 27 bedrooms, including family, double, twin and disability access rooms, and is expected to appeal to both the leisure and business markets, with the Mermaid providing a food offer on the same site. Dave Carvell, area operations manager for Marston’s, said: “We developed and built the lodge due to the success of the Mermaid pub in the local area. We have also created another 15 jobs for the local area with the opening of the lodge and we are already taking bookings.”
 
Staycity to open 202 serviced apartments in Liverpool’s Corn Exchange: Aparthotel operator Staycity will open 202 apartments in Liverpool’s Corn Exchange building, creating up to 40 full and part-time jobs. Staycity has signed a long-term lease on the former offices, with the building expected to open towards the end of 2017. A contractor for the project has yet to be appointed. The Corn Exchange is in Liverpool’s commercial region, close to Liverpool ONE. Staycity chief executive Tom Walsh said: “Our European expansion will take us to 10,000 apartments by the end of 2021 but it’s important that we also have a strong foothold in the UK’s major cities. Liverpool gives us a fantastic mix of leisure and corporate guests with a proven demand for aparthotels.” The premises will have an open-plan seating area where hot drinks will be available along with continental breakfasts, light snacks and lunches. All Staycity properties have a 24-hour reception, free Wi-Fi, and weekly housekeeping. Staycity Corn Exchange will have a guest laundry, fitness room, parking for 53 cars, and luggage lockers. Staycity has sites in eight major cities across the UK and Europe, with expansion plans to grow from 1,000 apartments to 3,500 during the next 24 months.
 
Premium craft gin producer secures £150,000 of new funding: A premium craft gin producer in Northamptonshire has secured £150,000 after winning HSBC’s Elevator Pitch competition for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Warner Edwards will use the money to invest in new equipment and staff to fulfil larger orders. It is also planning to build a botanical garden next to its Harrington distillery to flavour its gins. Tom Warner, founding partner of Warner Edwards, said: “This is a real game changer for our business and will enable us to turbocharge our growth plans. It means being able to invest in increasing our capacity much sooner than we’d planned so we can take advantage of the demand for gin globally. Our first task will be to strengthen our team and start to develop our markets overseas. This win gives us the confidence to move forward.” More than 1,000 SMEs entered the HSBC competition. Martin Hanson, HSBC’s head of business banking in the Midlands, added: “The UK gin market is projected to be worth an estimated £1.3bn by 2020 and Warner Edwards is one of many craft gin distillers fighting for a share of that burgeoning market. Our judges recognised Warner Edwards’ potential to succeed in the UK but were also impressed with the business’s overseas ambitions.” Warner Edwards was set up by Warner and his friend Siôn Edwards, who met while studying at Harper Adams University in Shropshire.
 
Pantry cafe concept starts expansion with second site at Newmarket National Heritage Centre: The Pantry, which has a venue in The Guineas Shopping Centre in Newmarket, will open a second cafe at the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art in the town this autumn. The new, as yet unnamed, cafe will be in an extension of the old trainer’s house, opening up into Kings Yard and will be open to the public as well as heritage centre visitors. The venue will feature an in-house bakery and offer cakes and takeaway food in a modern British style. Owners Anne-Marie and Vincent Woolley told the Cambridge News: “We feel our ethos of fantastic quality ingredients, local and seasonal food, alongside our all-day dining offering will be perfectly suited to the needs of heritage centre visitors and the wider community. We also feel incredibly privileged to be part of what is the most exciting new development in our town for some time.”
 
French restaurateur crosses Channel to open bar and grill restaurant concept in Ashford: French restaurateur Marc Uppilirajan has crossed the Channel to open a bar and grill restaurant concept in Ashford, Kent. Uppilirajan, who runs Cafe Foresta in the heart of Paris, has launched The Breeze Bar & Restaurant in Station Road on the site of the former Platform 5 bar. It operates as a night-time venue with a speciality in cocktails alongside a grill house restaurant. Co-manager Brandon Lakin told the Ashford Herald: “The owner already runs a really nice restaurant in the middle of Paris and has opened a grill house here. There’s going to be a lot of development round here in the next few years, like the new college campus, and we’ll be hoping to attract some of the students. Cocktails will be a big part of our menu and we’ve got some you can’t get anywhere else in England, as well as a more highbrow but attainable selection of food.” 
 
Last few places available for Advanced Social Media Masterclass: There are just a handful of places left for next week’s Advanced Social Media Masterclass. A host of sector companies have already signed up for the event. They include YO! Sushi, Apartment Group, TLC Inns, 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, Charles Wells, Pug Pubs, Stable Pizza, Whiting & Hammond, Noble Inns, Brakspear, Eclectic Bar Group, Meatailer, 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 plus VAT for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers members and £345 plus VAT for non-members. To book email anne.steele@propelinfo.com

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