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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 19th Apr 2016 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Hummus Bros managing director joins Australasia food and coffee franchise company: Hummus Bros managing director Jon Hassall has joined Australasia food and coffee franchise company Foodco NZ in a national operations role. Hassall will continue to work in a more traditional investor role” with London-based Hummus Bros, which opened its sixth site in Eastcheap last month. He had been managing director since February 2014 where he had responsibility for the operational and financial development of the company. He also oversaw a fund-raise of more than £550,000 for expansion via the crowfunding platform Seedrs. In an online blog, he said: “I’ll continue to be a huge brand fan, occasional customer and watch with interest as the newly appointed management team take Hummus Bros onto the next phase of the business plan. If you’re wondering why I’ve said an ‘occasional’ customer, it’s no reflection of the great items on the menu or the fantastic people I’ve been working with. There’s been no board fallout or disagreements with the senior investors, the only thing holding me back from an extra spicy chicken wrap will be my relocation to Auckland.” In its latest results, the company said it was 56% ahead of its planned Ebitda for 2016 and was trading 5.3% ahead of plan. Its like-for-like sales for the period were also up more than 13%. Foodco, which was founded in 1989 and is based in Sydney, operates across Australia, New Zealand, China, Singapore, India, the UAE and the UK. It comprises more than 420 franchise business retail outlets trading through the Muffin Break bakery cafe, Jamaica Blue cafe and Dreamy Donuts premium donut and coffee brands.

Industry News:

Propel Multi Club Conference and summer party open for bookings, Business Growth Fund to present: The Propel Multi Club Conference on Thursday, 7 July at the Oxford Belfry, just off the M40, is now open for bookings. The event features a full-day conference followed by Propel’s summer party, which this year includes an early evening paint-balling expedition followed by a barbecue and karaoke at the hotel. Jonathan Simon, of the Business Growth Fund, which has investments in Boost Juice Bars, Camino, Giggling Squid, Peyton & Byrne, Barburrito, Coaching Inn Group and Wear Inns, explains the fund’s rationale for investment and appetite for further investment in the sector. Operators of multi-site pub, restaurant and foodservice companies can claim up to two free places by emailing Jo Charity on
New benefit for Propel Premium subscribers: Propel Premium subscribers are to receive a new benefit this week – a copy of the Propel Blue Book guide to sector turnover and profitability. The Blue Book lists and ranks 200 sector companies by turnover, profitability and profit conversion. It also provides a five-year overview of profitability and directors’ salaries. Meanwhile, the next audio recording, to be sent to Propel Premium subscribers on Friday (22 April), will feature Just Eat’s chief operating officer Adrian Blair giving his overview of the company’s progress and the takeaway market. 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 

BBPA and CAMRA join forces to promote alternatives to Late Night Levy: The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) have joined forces to publish a new report on the impact of the Late Night Levy on the pub sector. The report “Supporting a safer night-time economy” has urged councils and police to look instead at a partnership approach as a more effective alternative. There are currently just seven levies in place across England, and none in Wales. In practice, some local authorities have backed away from the scheme due to partnership working being a more effective option, and the high potential cost of administering a levy for minimal financial gain. Under the scheme, many pubs will face an extra cost of more than £750 per year – a significant impact on small community businesses, which may only open later at weekends or on certain days of the year, yet are still liable for the levy. Instead, the two bodies urge a partnership approach, such as through the establishment of local Pubwatch initiatives, Business Improvement Districts, and the Best Bar None scheme – ways of working that have been successfully pursued by a number of authorities that have specifically rejected the levy approach. Brigid Simmonds, BBPA chief executive, said: “This new research report shows that introducing a Late Night Levy is really a direct tax on local businesses that damages effective partnership working between the trade and other stakeholders. We are working with local authorities and police to find better ways of promoting a safe and vibrant night-time economy.” Tim Page, CAMRA chief executive, added: “Community pubs that provide essential services to their customers will be those that are hit hardest by a Late Night Levy. With pub closure rates being an ongoing concern for CAMRA members, it is essential that government and councils do everything possible to support pubs that are so vital to communities, rather than placing a financial burden on them.”

Leeds to turn Greek Street into city’s largest outdoor drinking and dining area: Greek Street in Leeds, which houses bar and restaurant brands including Stonegate Pub Company’s The Liquorist; Gusto, which is operated by Living Ventures; and Mitchells & Butlers brand All Bar One, is to be transformed into the city’s largest outdoor drinking and dining area. The street will be closed on a part-time basis every Thursday to Sunday, with the six-month trial beginning on 28 April. The closure will run from 5pm to midnight on Thursday and Friday nights, and from 1pm to midnight on both Saturday and Sunday. The trial, managed by Leeds City Council, is aimed at creating a “friendly and vibrant outdoor atmosphere over the summer”, with restaurants and bars hosting various events. Cllr Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “This is great news for Greek Street and is a major part of our efforts to support businesses and make the city centre more attractive for residents and visitors. We want Leeds to have the most vibrant city centre in the country and that means we have to get behind schemes like this that improve the look and feel of outdoor spaces. The Merrion Street scheme has had a transformative effect on that area of the city centre and I’m sure that success will now be replicated on Greek Street.” A spokesman for Living Ventures, which owns and operates Gusto and the Alchemist, said: “We are delighted that Leeds City Council is taking this step, as we feel it will add to the already vibrant evening atmosphere that Leeds has and help make Greek Street a key city centre destination. This trial will enable us to offer more to visitors in the form of outside seating areas and staging different events bringing new life to Greek Street.”
Beer bottle distinctiveness more than three times effective than increasing shelf space for attracting customers’ attention, new study shows: Having a distinctive beer bottle is more than three times effective than increasing the product’s amount of shelf space when it comes to capturing the attention of customers, new research has revealed. The findings from Anglia Ruskin University’s pubLAB came from research carried out using 12 European beers with low levels of brand awareness in the UK to minimise “brand effects”. It involved participants choosing a bottle of beer in an on-shelf mock-up, while their eye movements were recorded. By studying the eye-tracking data, heat maps were created showing the cumulative time respondents looked at each beer bottle. Augustiner Bräu Edelstoff featured twice on the shelf and had an attention uplift (the percentage above the average attention for each bottle) of 21%. However, the most visually salient bottle was Tegernseer Spezial, which only featured once on the shelf but had an attention uplift of 76%. Tim Froggett, senior lecturer in marketing at Anglia Ruskin, said: “Attention may not be driven by what consumers actively choose to look at but rather by low-level perceptual components such as colour, contrast, intensity and brightness. In this case, the Tegernseer Spezial bottle presents an image of white in a sea of brown. In addition, linguistic variables can affect how long the eyes remain fixated in one place and ‘spezial’ is one of few words in this scene that is relevant to the search task. Understanding the properties that generate visual attention is key for companies, as this could be more important in driving sales than increasing shelf facings.”
Scotland set to appoint first national chef: Scotland is set to appoint its first national chef with a remit of improving the dietary health of its residents and championing the country’s produce. The state-appointed unpaid role will be created by the SNP should it win re-election in May with the party then accelerating efforts to shortlist candidates. The appointment of a national chef will dovetail with the mooted introduction of a Good Food Nation Bill, which will focus on promoting Scottish organic food and drink firms. An SNP spokesman told Herald Scotland: “Our food policy over the next five years will be based on growing our food and drink exports even more strongly, focusing on some of the key overseas markets, as well as a renewed push on the home front to see more Scottish produce used by councils and other public bodies. And we will appoint Scotland’s first national chef to act as an ambassador, championing our food and drink at home and abroad.” Chefs thought to be in the running for the position include Shirley Spear, owner of the Three Chimneys Restaurant on Skye and chairman of the Scottish Food Commission, and restaurateur Tom Kitchin as well as Andrew Fairlie, Neil Forbes, Nick Nairn and Jacqueline O’Donnell.
Barclays to launch online data insights service for SMEs next month: Small and medium-sized (SMEs) hospitality businesses that are Barclays customers will be able to benefit from a new online data insights service from next month. The bank is launching SmartBusiness, which will analyse and bring transaction data to life and allow owners to compare against similar businesses in their region. The solution, the first of its kind, will bring the power of a market research department to time-starved business owners. The service will be available for a monthly fee to more than 500,000 business customers through Barclays online banking. It will show key trends around business inflows and outflows as well as how money is paid in from cash, debit cards and cheques. Users with a Barclaycard terminal will also be able to view customer insights such as behaviours, audiences, and spending patterns to help design loyalty or reward schemes. Research by marketing company OnePoll has revealed 56% of SMEs rarely or infrequently check business data with 3% having never looked at all. While 44% of UK businesses said they check their data daily or weekly, common frustrations included being occupied by other tasks (33%) and not having enough time (22%). Meanwhile, 15% had never even thought to analyse their own data on transactions and customers.
Pubs in Northern Ireland see insolvency risk increase, hotel industry performing ‘particularly well’: Pubs were one of only two sectors in Northern Ireland to see an increase this month in the risk of becoming insolvent, according to trade body R3. The organisation said April was a “month for optimism” across the ten key sectors with the hotel industry performing “particularly well”. Overall, it found 22.8% of firms were considered a higher than normal risk of insolvency – down 1.7% from last month. However, pubs saw the risk of insolvency increase by 3.66%, which along with transport and haulage (2.89%) and manufacturing (no change) were the only sectors not to see a decline. Michael Neill, R3’s chairman in Northern Ireland, told the Irish News: “The latest results are a welcome indicator of the financial stability of Northern Ireland’s key business sectors. It’s promising for companies to start the new financial year in good health. Hotels in particular have had a very strong start to 2016, which in turn should be boosting spending in other local businesses. With the introduction of the National Living Wage this month, it is important for businesses to consider the long-term implications for cash flow. The proportion of pubs in Northern Ireland at heightened risk has been increasing monthly since the start of the year. The pub trade has faced mounting pressure in recent years but hopefully business will pick up as we move into the summer months.”

Company News:

Wagamama hires new people director: Wagamama has hired Julia Rosamond as people director. She is currently working as director of human resources at Travelodge, which she joined in July 2014 and previously worked at Nando’s for 17 years – she joined when it had just five sites in the UK. Rosamond will be joining during the summer and will take over from Andy Moat. Once she has joined, Wagamama’s executive team will be chief executive David Campbell, chief financial officer Jane Holbrook, UK operations director Sarah Hills, global brand director Simon Cope, property director Stephen Boyce, and Rosamond. Campbell said: “I am delighted to announce that Julia Rosamond will join us as people director. Julia has a wealth of industry experience and was instrumental in successfully driving the people agenda at Nando’s for several years whilst HR director. I know Julia is thrilled to be joining the team here and I am confident that she will very quickly make a great addition to Wagamama and will further strengthen our executive team. I would also like to take this opportunity to express my thanks to Andy Moat. During his four years as people director, Andy has been hugely instrumental in our success. We wish him the very best for the future.”
Dominique Ansel chooses Belgravia site to make Europe debut: Pastry chef Dominique Ansel, who operates well-known sites in New York and Japan, is to open Dominique Ansel Bakery London in the late summer/early autumn. “We are grateful for the chance to share a little bit of what we do with our guests in London, and we aim to do nothing less than our very best for them,” Ansel said. “It’s always exciting to meet everyone and challenge ourselves with new creations.” Located in Elizabeth Street in Belgravia, close to Victoria, Ansel’s first Europe-based bakery will carry a menu of signature pastries from his original shop as well as a new line of London-only items. He said: “Although I grew up in France, so close to London, I didn’t have a chance to visit until I was much older. When I did, I immediately fell in love with the blend of cultures and the spirit of the city.” Ansel is the chef/owner of Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York and Japan, as well as Dominique Ansel Kitchen and UP (an after-hours dessert tasting table) in New York. In 2014, Ansel was awarded the James Beard Award for “Outstanding Pastry Chef”.
Peppercorn Leisure closes three Jimmy Spices restaurants as company faces being dissolved: Peppercorn Leisure has closed the three Jimmy Spices buffet restaurants it operates in the Midlands as the company faces being dissolved. The restaurants in Lower Parade, Sutton Coldfield; Station Road in Solihull; and Windsor Street in Stratford-upon-Avon have shut with about 100 people losing their jobs. Director Jaswinder Choongh told the Birmingham Mail: “The restaurants have closed and will not be reopening again. The two main reasons for the closure were the overheads of running such big restaurants and the emergence of cheaper imitations, which have taken a larger share of the market. I’d like to thank customers for coming to Jimmy Spices over the years. We feel sorry that we have let them down.” The Jimmy Spices restaurant group, which owns the rights to the name, was founded in Birmingham in 2006. The Midlands’ original Jimmy Spices in Broad Street, Birmingham, is operated by separate company East & West Restaurants Midlands and has not been affected by the closures and remains open. Last month, Companies House issued a compulsory strike-off notice to the directors of Peppercorn Leisure, which said: “The registrar of companies gives notice that, unless cause is shown to the contrary, at the expiration of two months from the above date (8 March) the name of Peppercorn Leisure Holdings will be struck off the register and the company will be dissolved. Upon dissolution, all property and rights vested in, or held in trust for, the company are deemed to be bona vacantia, and accordingly will belong to the crown.”

Craft Beer Co reports turnover up 16.8% in most recent year: The Craft Beer Co, which operates six sites across London and one in Brighton, has reports turnover up 16.8% in its most recent financial year. The news comes just weeks after the company signed a deal to join other leading leisure retailers in Boxpark Croydon, a development based on shipping containers, that is set to open this summer. Craft Beer Co founder Martin Hayes, said: “It’s been an amazing year for the team. We opened a new venue in the City of London in the shadow of The Gherkin in November, held the UK’s biggest ever Pub Beer Festival at our Clapham site and have created a healthy pipeline of new and potential sites, including one in the Croydon Boxpark development. As a business we’re pretty impatient, so we’ll be looking to raise the bar again in 2016/17. We’ll be concentrating on adding more sites in London, but I don’t rule out expanding outside of town. That said, being privately owned, we’ll only add sites which we think represent value to our business and serve our customers well, we’re not under pressure from shareholders or investors to add sites on to show progress or sign silly agreements.”
Batemans dismisses sale rumours: Batemans, the family brewer based in Lincolnshire, has dismissed rumours it will be sold to a third party. Stuart Bateman, managing director at Batemans Brewery, said: “Batemans is a proud family firm and we believe it always will be. The last generation of the Bateman family spent three years in the mid-1980s fighting to keep it an independent family brewery, rather than cashing in and giving up, and this is how we will continue. Our fifth generation is already supporting the business during the school holidays, in preparation to lead the brewery themselves one day. Batemans Brewery is in no way looking to be sold to an external stakeholder, and we want to reassure any of our customers or tenants who may have heard, and been concerned by, any rumours. While the market remains challenging, 2016 is a very exciting year for us, as we have plans to acquire new sites to join our recent acquisition near Rotherham, as well as a comprehensive investment programme for our existing pubs. The development of our sales team last month will also prove key to our ongoing success; we expect our forecasted trade to increase by around 10%as a result of this.”
SSP wins £41m Frankfurt Airport contract: UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist SSP has won a five-year contract valued at about £41m to operate nine bakery and snack outlets at Frankfurt Airport. The new units, which are located both landside and airside in the airport’s Terminal One, will open between 2016 and 2018. The win will see the company open seven new units featuring well-known German premium bakery chains, including Ditsch and two Heberer Traditional Bakeries, which will be located airside, as well as one Wiener Feinbäcker Heberer located landside. In addition, two well-known bakery names, German high-street favourite self-service bakery Backwerk and two outlets of French-inspired premium brand Le Crobag, will make their first appearance at Frankfurt Airport. It will also continue to operate two existing SSP outlets – mobile café Perfect Day and bakery Kamps Backstube. Ute Pohl, senior vice-president of airport retailing at Fraport, the operator of Frankfurt Airport, said; “This new venture underscores SSP’s role as a strong partner, which has the capability and knowledge to understand the needs of our customers. SSP’s ability to enhance the units with a stronger takeaway focus, as well as high levels of foodservice and operational excellence will undoubtedly drive sales in this very busy terminal.” 
Greene King offers food support service to tenants: Operators in Greene King tenanted pubs are benefiting from a new food supply service. Leveraging expertise and buying scale from the company’s managed retail estate, Greene King Pub Partners has launched “Pub Partners Supplies”. The new service provides licensees with a ready-to-go food offer and is designed for operators whose business could benefit from the addition of food. Clive Chesser, managing director for Greene King Pub Partners, said: “We regularly review our estate, and found that many of our pubs had the potential to offer food, but did not necessarily have the right tools to do it. This new service gives our tenants new to food, and without necessarily the support of an experienced chef, everything they need to launch a profitable menu and maximise the potential from their business.” Operators using the service receive an easy to execute menu, free delivery of the necessary products, all allergen information, marketing support including menus, and a two-day on-site team training session alongside operational benefits including free waste recycling. “Pub Partners Supplies” has been developed in partnership with logistics company Kuehne + Nagel. Greene King tenants can opt for either a “value” or “quality” package, both with a range of price points to suit different demographics. The menus are refreshed every six months and licensees invited to a “cook-off” training session to learn about the new dishes. Chesser added: “Using the skills from our retail development kitchen, we have specifically designed the products and menu to be quick and easy to deliver. Many of our licensees using the scheme have already seen a significant margin increase. We appreciate this approach is not right for every licensee, so there are options within the service for operators wanting more flexibility, for example opting for select dishes to create their own menu, or just our wholesale supply option.”
NYC Bar and Grill to open third site in Sheffield: Yorkshire-based American restaurant brand NYC Bar and Grill will open its third site this summer in Sheffield. The company, founded in 2013 by Lee Edwards, will open the 2,120 square foot venue on Thursday, 16 June at the new £50m Fox Valley retail complex being developed by Dransfield Properties. The restaurant, which will sit alongside Ponti’s Italian Kitchen’s first site outside London at the town centre development, is the latest in a number of new venues NYC Bar and Grill is planning across the region as part of expansion. The restaurant will have a fun and funky American theme and will serve a range of freshly made burgers, hot dogs, ribs and salads as well as milkshakes, cocktails, desserts, and sundaes. Lee said: “Fox Valley is a great location for our third NYC Bar and Grill. We are passionate about producing great food. We really care about the customer experience and can’t wait to bring that NYC experience to our new north Sheffield restaurant when we open in June.” Management surveyor at Dransfield Properties James Shepherd added: “It’s great news that another fantastic Yorkshire company is expanding and joining the line-up here at Fox Valley. This is a completely new retail destination for this part of north Sheffield and we are keen to create a really unique mix of stores and restaurants for our shoppers. We wish Lee and his team all the very best with their new restaurant.” NYC Bar and Grill’s other sites are in Bawtry and Doncaster.
We Brought Beer secures third site in Tooting: London-based specialist craft beer shop We Brought Beer has secured its third site in Tooting. The company, founded by former BrewDog employee James Hickson, is set to open an outlet in Tooting Market. We Brought Beer offers more than 400 craft beers from the UK and around the world, with a beer garden, growlers, home-brew kits and ingredients, bottles, and a private tasting room. The iconic market in Tooting High Street, which dates to 1930, is home to London’s smallest gin distillery as well as a branch of Brickwood Cafe. Pizza brand Franco Manca, owned by Fulham Shore, has also agreed a deal to open a restaurant at the site. We Brought Beer was launched by Hickson in Balham in August 2014 and opened a second site in St John’s Hill, Clapham, last September.
Steve Easterbrook sees total compensation rise to nearly $8m, tablets to be installed at majority of UK restaurants: McDonald’s chief executive Steve Easterbrook has been rewarded with turning around the company’s fortunes last year by seeing his total compensation rise to nearly $8m. According to the company’s latest proxy statement filed on Friday, Easterbrook’s total compensation was $7.9m – an increase of $1.7m from 2014. Easterbrook, who became chief executive in early 2015, earned just more than $1m in base salary with the remainder of his compensation coming in the form of stock and options awards, and a non-equity incentive plan, reports Andrew McKenna, who will retire shortly as McDonald’s non-executive chairman after serving a 12-year stint, earned about $1.1m in total compensation in 2015 – relatively unchanged from the previous year. According to a review of McDonald’s past proxy filings, the company has doled out about $10.1m in total compensation to McKenna over the past 12 years in a mix of stock awards and fees. McDonald’s fourth-quarter like-for-likes in the US surged 5.7%, while operating income increased more than 30% from the prior year thanks in part to the launch of all-day breakfast last October. Meanwhile, McDonald’s is to install Samsung Galaxy tablets at the majority of its UK restaurants. The company is rolling out the project following a successful trial last year as part of its “Experience of the Future” programme, which represents the biggest investment and operational change in the company’s 41-year history in the UK. Software company SOTI will supply the software for the tablets, which will let customers to play games, use social media and browse the web while they eat. Doug Baker, head of IT restaurant solutions and service at McDonald’s UK, said: “The tablets form an important part of our new customer experience initiative, which is part of our overall ‘Experience of the Future’ programme. We pride ourselves on listening to our customers and trying to provide new and innovative experiences.”

Veeno set to open sixth site in Bristol next month: Veeno, the Italian wine cafe, is set to open its sixth store in Bristol next month. Following successful launches in Manchester, Leeds, York, Liverpool and Nottingham, the company is now bringing the concept to Temple Quay in Bristol, creating 15 jobs. Nino Caruso, co-founder of Veeno, said: “We finally have the chance to go south, and it is a tremendous opportunity to showcase our concept and our products to a new audience. Veeno Bristol is ideally located to service the lunchtime crowds with authentic Italian sandwiches, as well as to offer a place to relax and unwind after work with our family-produced wine.” Veeno will open its doors at One Glass Wharf, Temple Quay, on Thursday, 12 May. 
Wahaca opens restaurant in Brighton: Mexican restaurant brand Wahaca has opened a venue in Brighton – its 21st site. The company has opened the 130-cover venue in a grade II-listed building in the Colonnades, on the corner of North Street and New Road, which formerly housed Strada restaurant. Former MasterChef winner and Wahaca co-founder Thomasina Miers told The Argus: “It’s a city with an amazing sense of culture, sustainable living and, importantly, knowing how to enjoy itself. My siblings both live here and have been pestering us about how Brighton needed a Wahaca – we look forward to getting stuck in.” The company, founded in 2005, is set to expand its blueprint in Sussex further having submitted plans earlier this month to open in Chichester.
Tesco set to close seven Giraffe restaurants: Tesco is set to close seven Giraffe restaurants located in its Tesco Extra stores in May. The closures affect sites in Tesco Extra stores in York, Sutton, Martlesham, Cirencester, Bournemouth, Twickenham and Abingdon. All seven will be converted into Tesco Cafes. Another three Giraffe restaurants located in Tesco Extra stores at Watford, Cheshunt and Inverness will remain open. A Tesco spokesman told The Caterer: “We are always looking to provide the best possible offer for customers at each of our stores and have concluded seven of our stores that currently host Giraffe restaurants will be better suited to Tesco Cafes. We expect all colleagues to be offered positions in the new Tesco Cafes.” A staff member at one Tesco Extra Giraffe restaurant said: “We have been told we will close down as Giraffe on 7 May and open up as a Tesco Cafe. We’ve been told it is because Tesco is going to sell its Giraffe business later this year.”
Shepherd Neame submits plans to double size of Berkshire pub by adding accommodation: Kent-based brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame has submitted plans to double the size of a pub in Berkshire by adding 11 bedrooms. The company has applied to Slough Borough Council to add the accommodation at The Ostrich in the village of Colnbrook, having acquired the site in December 2014. It wants to create the bedrooms in largely disused and derelict areas of the existing buildings and the development would be the biggest change to the grade II-listed property, which dates to the 12th century, since major internal renovations were approved in 2003. The existing bar and restaurant areas of the pub would remain largely unchanged from their current layout, although a “modern glazed entrance lobby” is proposed as well as a new bar. The furthest part of the existing restaurant would be partitioned off to form a private dining area, reports Colnbrook Info. The derelict ground-floor area west of the main entrance would be renovated to form four bedrooms while the upstairs would be remodeling to create the remaining accommodation. Subject to approval, the work is expected to start in the summer.
Turtle Bay gets go-ahead to open restaurant in Norwich: Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay has been given the go-ahead to open a site in Norwich. The company has been granted permission by the city council to convert the grade II-listed building that was formerly home to Fabric Warehouse on the corner of Bedford Street and Swan Lane into its latest venue. The proposal will see the basement and ground floor of the property become a restaurant while the entrance will be switched from Swan Lane to Bedford Street, reports the Eastern Daily Press. The council had already granted a licence for Turtle Bay to open a restaurant although Norfolk police had requested it must restrict its opening hours to midnight, as it is outside the defined late-night activity zone. Turtle Bay, which is backed by Piper Private Equity, was formed by Las Iguanas co-founder Ajith Jaya-Wickrema in 2010 and has 26 sites across the UK.
London Town Group secures seventh site after buying Sheffield hotel for £2.5m: London Town Group has secured its seventh site after buying a Sheffield hotel for £2.5m. The company has bought the Sheffield Metropolitan Hotel in the quayside quarter of the city from Royal Bank of Scotland through agents Colliers International. The ten-storey hotel has 111 rooms and offers additional development opportunity in the form of a former petrol filling station shop. London Town Group managing director Koolesh Shah told The Business Desk: “The Sheffield Metropolitan Hotel is an ideal fit for our expanding regional portfolio with existing hotels in Nottingham and Derby. We intend to refurbish the hotel and brand it with a major franchisor.” Julian Troup, head of UK hotels at Colliers International, added: “The Sheffield Metropolitan provided a rare opportunity to acquire a large city centre hotel with opportunities to substantially increase trade through further development.” As well as the hotels in Derby and Nottingham, London Town Group owns four sites in the capital.
Casual Dining Group to reopen La Tasca site in Cambridge as Bella Italia, fourth site in city: Casual Dining Group has rebranded its La Tasca site in Cambridge into its Bella Italia concept to become its fourth venue in the city. The company has invested £425,000 revamping the restaurant in Bridge Street, which has a new interior inspired by “the coasts of Italy” and will reopen on Wednesday (20 April), creating 25 jobs. As well as traditional pizza and pasta, the menu will include grills and vegetarian options, while dessert will give diners the chance to make use of the “gelato cart”, which contains 11 flavours of Italian ice creams, finished with a variety of toppings. Area manager Thomas McCartney told the Cambridge News: “The buzzing Bridge Street is the ideal place to open another Bella in this beautiful, historic city. Those visiting Bella will be treated to our great new menu, a fabulous new restaurant and a team that can’t wait to serve the people of Cambridge.” Bella Italia’s other sites in the city are at the Cambridge Watermill, Cambridge Leisure Park, and the first-floor food court at the Grafton centre.
Prezzo opens restaurant in Darlington: Prezzo has expanded its portfolio in the north east of England by opening a restaurant in Darlington, County Durham. The company has opened the site at the new Feethams leisure complex. The development is also home to other restaurant brands including Bella Italia, which is owned by Casual Dining Group, and Nando’s, as well as a nine-screen Vue cinema. Prezzo stated: “We are delighted to join a line-up that includes a wonderful food and drink offer, great shopping, and a brand new cinema. Prezzo has thrown open its doors for guests to enjoy fantastic Italian cuisine.” The company operates more than 200 restaurants across the UK, including in Harrogate, Newcastle and York.
NewRiver Retail completes purchase of Broadway shopping centre: NewRiver Retail, the UK real estate investment trust that owns a portfolio of tenanted pubs acquired from Marston’s and Punch Taverns, has completed the acquisition of The Broadway Shopping Centre and Broadway Square Retail Park in Bexleyheath, south east London. It has bought the sites for £120.25m, equating to a net initial yield of 6.7% and an equivalent yield of 7%, with net rental income at purchase of £8.16m per annum. Comprising more than 60% of the town’s retail space, the Bexleyheath assets provide the principal retail destination for a large area of south east London and north west Kent, and attract more than nine million shoppers per annum. David Lockhart, NewRiver Retail chief executive, said: “The acquisition represents our first significant acquisition within the M25 and is our largest single shopping centre acquisition to date.”
Turnover down, pre-tax profit up at Accolade Wines: Pre-tax profits have risen by more than £9m at the Hardys, Echo Falls and Kumala owner Accolade Wines as the company continued to manage costs and maintain competitive pricing. Accolade Wines reported revenue of £617m for the year ended 30 June 2015, down from £625.6m a year earlier. But after a drop in distribution and sales costs, pre-tax profits grew from £18.8m to £28.1m. The company said volumes, gross margin, Ebitda, and free cash flow have all increased thanks to the management’s “growth strategy through competitive pricing, costs and cash management”. A final dividend for the year was not recommended. Accolade Wines’ portfolio of brands includes Hardys, Kumala, Banrock Station, Mud House, Geyser Peak, Echo Falls, Stone’s Ginger Wine and Babycham.
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 leading brands consultant Ian Dunstall on how to effectively differentiate a brand and its proposition while Chris Gerard, founder of gastro-pub business Innventure, will explain how to 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

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