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Fri 22nd Apr 2016 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Draft House set for double opening including company’s largest site to date, targets London orbital towns: Draft House, led by Charlie McVeigh and backed by Luke Johnson, is to open two new sites in less than a month as it “gathers momentum”. It opens its largest pub to date on Monday (25 April), Draft House Chancery, which is twice the size of Seething Lane, its next largest pub, with a floor area of 6,648 square feet. That will be followed by a 3,500 square foot site in Old Street three weeks later. McVeigh told Propel the company has “two or three other sites” at an advanced stage but is focused on London orbital towns. He added: “We saw 9% like-for-like sales growth last week and we’re generally between 5% and 10% at the moment with occasional spectacular weeks. But I don’t see value (in acquiring new sites) in London right now – it’s tough. We were outbid by a factor of two on rent at a site recently. I agree with my chairman Luke Johnson (in relation to the current punishing rent review regime).” Draft House Chancery will have a “Pub & Tank Room” featuring Pilsner Urquell tank beer. The private space will feature a tiled station – “the altar of tank beer” – where beer-lovers will be taught to pour the three styles of Czech lager – milk, smooth and crisp. Once trained, partygoers will be encouraged to pour their own fresh beer for the duration of their event. Beer consumption will be monitored via a “flow meter” for the host to be billed for the actual amount of beer consumed. As at all Draft Houses, Chancery will stock a large range of craft beer on draft and in bottle, celebrating local breweries and craft brewers in the US, Belgium, Germany and the Czech Republic. The pub opens up on to newly pedestrianised Plough Place just off Fetter Lane in the heart of the legal district. McVeigh said: “We’re hoping to smash it at Draft House Chancery, giving the hard-pressed local lawyers, clerks and even judges a refuge to enjoy the freshest beer, an awesome Hamburger Special, watch the football and possibly even catch a quick chat with a friend in one of our phone booths.”
 

Industry News:

Pizza Pilgrim founders Thom and James Elliot to present at Propel July conference: 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. Thom and James Elliot, co-founders of Pizza Pilgrims, will tell the story of their decision to embark on launching into the pizza category without a foodservice background, moving from pop-ups to permanent sites, lessons learnt, their mobile van, and plans for the future. Operators of multi-site pub, restaurant and foodservice companies can claim up to two free places by emailing Jo Charity on jo.charity@propelinfo.com
 
£1-an-item London cafe Caffix closes to ‘review business model’: Caffix, the London-based cafe where everything on the menu costs £1, has closed after almost 12 months to “review its business model”. The cafe opened in Fitzrovia last June with a mission to “enable the people of London to eat fresh and pay less”, but has now shut, reports City AM. A statement on its website said: “Freshly made, quality, tasty food, and premium Italian espresso coffee were the founding principles. We are proud to say we never wavered from this, and were so delighted to be making a difference and putting a smile on the faces of so many people.” The owner of the cafe, which sold sandwiches, pastries, cakes, salad pots and hot beverages all at £1 each, said it was “taking the opportunity to close the shop at 45 Newman Street, and review the business over the last year”, and concluded: “This is not necessarily ‘goodbye’, but ‘see you later’.”
 
BrewDog – we’ve raised £19m through crowdfunding: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has reported it has raised £19m in crowdfunding. It stated: “In October 2009, barely into our second year, we took the unprecedented step to become a plc and give the public the chance to buy shares in BrewDog. Equity for Punks put the people who enjoyed our beers in control rather than faceless moneymen, and immediately it became inherent to our way of working. Since then we have released more shares over three more rounds, and the most recent of which – Equity for Punks IV – closed on Wednesday. In so doing, it has become the biggest ever equity crowdfunding offer, raising £19m. We would like to thank everyone who invested for believing in our company and our amazing crew. Every penny of the amount raised in Equity for Punks IV will be reinvested back into our company to grow the investment of those who became (or already were) shareholders. With more than 42,000 people now counting themselves as card-carrying Equity Punks, we are committed to working harder than ever to build our company. It’s been an amazing ride – but we are far from done yet.”
 
BBPA writes to energy secretary with concerns over energy policy: The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has written to energy secretary Amber Rudd setting out the concerns of the industry at the impact of recently announced policy changes. Modifications announced at the Budget in March could mean extra costs of £44m across the pub sector (about £900 per pub). The BBPA is calling for clarity from the government on what its future plans are. Although the BBPA said it is broadly supportive of reforms to business energy efficiency policy, there were serious concerns about the impact on small businesses. The abolition of the Carbon Reduction Commitment announced at the Budget means the Treasury would look to recoup funds from elsewhere. This would mean increases in the Climate Change Levy (CCL) of 52% and 74% for electricity and gas respectively by 2019. The increases across the sector add up to £44m or roughly £900 per pub each year. The BBPA is also calling on the government to establish clarity on the future intentions for CCL rates to 2025 and for a timetable for review of CCA targets to be set out. BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “Energy policy is becoming an ever bigger issue for pub operators, and there are many changes coming down the tracks. It is important that both large and small businesses are given clarity and a fair deal. We are particularly keen to ensure that small pubs are not disadvantaged by the decision to abolish the Climate Reduction Commitment. I hope the government will set out a clear roadmap for future plans so that brewers and pub operators are able to keep on top of these substantial issues. In the meantime, we will provide as much support as we can to licensees to reduce the burden of energy costs, including the launch of new guidance at our forthcoming symposium.”
 

Company News:

Steakout Meat House increases equity offer in £400,000 crowdfunding campaign, pre-money valuation now £3m: London-based steak house Steakout Meat House has increased its equity offer as it bids to raise £400,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to upgrade its meat cutting facility and support a roll-out of its sites. The eight-strong company, launched in 2008 by Kaysor Ali, is now offering an 11.76% equity stake in return for the investment instead of the original 9.09%. So far, 58 investors have pledged £123,300 with 15 days remaining. The largest investment to date is £45,000. The company stated: “In light of ongoing discussions with key investors, Steakout has decided to increase the equity offering by 29%. The pre-money valuation is now £3m.” The pitch states: “The proceeds from this fund-raising will help greatly to speed up our expansion. Aside from the upgrade to our meat cutting facility, we plan to invest into a new flagship store in Stratford that we’ve managed to secure. In addition, we want to invest to build up our management team in the areas of franchising and operations to enable rapid growth.” Last week, the company revealed it had secured two new franchise sites – in Ilford, Essex, and Birmingham.
 
Plans lodged for multimillion-pound TGI Friday’s restaurant in Cambridge: Plans have been lodged for a multimillion-pound TGI Friday’s restaurant in Cambridge. Land Securities has submitted an application to the city council to build the restaurant – the brand’s first in the city – in the cobbled “piazza” area of Cambridge Leisure Park. The plans also include a pavilion, children’s play area, pavement fountains, and a performance space. James Hutchinson, portfolio manager – retail and leisure at Land Securities, which owns the site, said the plans would provide for the community. He told the Cambridge News: “Our planned proposals will help bring to life an area that is currently underused. By creating an engaging public realm and introducing a children’s play area, we will be providing a family friendly environment for all to enjoy. The design will integrate into its surroundings and deliver a high quality landmark building in a prominent position on the site.” The proposal has been met with objections, including from Daniel Brine, director at Cambridge Junction, a cultural venue that anchors the site. He said: “Around 100,000 people a year visit Cambridge Junction to see gigs, comedy and theatre, as well as taking part in creative learning and participation events. Yet another restaurant will fail to address the soulless nature of the plaza, which has come about because of the privileging of corporate rather than community interest.”
 
North London-based Chinese takeout concept Zing Zing passes 50% mark in £350,000 crowdfunding campaign to expand across capital: Zing Zing, the north London-based Chinese takeout concept, has passed the 50% mark in its £350,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to expand across the capital. The company, founded by Josh Magidson, who sold his start-up business to Just Eat in 2010, is offering an 8.51% equity stake in return for the investment. So far, 119 investors have pledged £207,640 with 20 days remaining. The largest investment to date is £31,850. The pitch states: “Zing Zing is revolutionising the £1.4bn Chinese takeout industry over time. We offer Chinese cuisine with a modern and healthy twist, cooked fresh to order and delivered fast. We have two units in north London, which together generated £1.05m of net turnover last year. We are currently raising equity finance to fund the next stages of our store roll-out plan. We are looking to raise a minimum of £350,000 for a new store in east and/or west London and other exciting business improvements. The investments we are making in the business are all designed to enable us to scale the model more effectively. We do not need large stores in high footfall locations. New sites are easy to find. They are extremely low cost to build and operate, especially compared with a traditional restaurant. We target a near 50% pre-tax return on capital whenever we open a new store – a target far beyond most traditional restaurant models.” The company forecasts a pre-tax loss of £170,155 at the end of this year, rising to a profit of £44,100 in 2017, £217,291 in 2018, and £574,881 in 2019. 
 
Searcys launches meatballs and champagne concept at St Paul’s site before roll-out: High quality caterer and champagne bar operator Searcys has launched a “fuss-free” meatballs and champagne concept at its St Paul’s site. The champagne bar, on the first floor of the One New Change shopping centre, will celebrate meatballs and pasta alike, with the concept expected to be rolled out to Searcys’ other venues, Eat Out reports. The menu will incorporate a “pick and mix” system, with a choice of either meatballs and pasta or meatballs and ciabatta. Beef and pork meatballs will be available with sauce, pasta and topping options, including pesto, paccheri and gorgonzola. The food offering will also be available on a street food stall, as part of the daily market on the ground floor of One New Change for shoppers and workers. The drinks menu will be headed up by wine and champagne connoisseur Joel Claustre and cocktail expert Aurelien Durand. The menu will range from flutes of champagne to Italian Vermouth and Frizzante cocktails. Searcys operates more than 20 venues, mostly across London.
 
Taco Bell franchisee appoints agents to grow brand in north of England: Taco Bell is looking to grow its presence in the north of England with its UK franchisee Northgate Fast Foods appointing agents to find suitable sites. Northgate has plans in place to open two restaurants in Sheffield as well as in Barnsley and Nottingham. It has now appointed Lambert Smith Hampton to assess high street and shopping centre opportunities across Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Northumberland and Tyne & Wear. It is also looking into locations at some of the region’s major transport hubs – something that would be a first for the brand in the UK. Arjun Patel, from Northgate Fast Foods, told Business Quarter: “There’s clearly a desire for a variety of quality food outlets offering great value like Taco Bell across the north of England, and the stores that we have already opened are proving a great success. It is a testament to the region’s growing economy that we are looking to open several more new stores in the next 12 months.” Taco Bell has more than 6,000 restaurants across the US and continues to grow with over 250 restaurants internationally. It also has five other UK stores located in Bradford, Manchester and the east of England.
 
Fat Hippo gourmet burger brand opens Durham site, third north east venue: Gourmet burger brand Fat Hippo has opened a restaurant in Durham, its third venue in the north east, creating 40 jobs. The grade II-listed building in cobbled Saddler Street is near Durham Castle and is laid out over two floors. Burger options include the PB&J (topped with peanut butter, cheese and bacon jam) and Born Slippy, a double four-ounce patty topped with pulled pork ribs, cheese, jalapeños and chilli jam. The venue is open seven days a week, from 11am until late. Founded in 2010 by Michael Phillips, Fat Hippo operates two restaurants in Newcastle, including one in the city centre. Phillips told the Sunderland Echo: “Gourmet burgers have become a bit of a trend at the moment but, back when I started out six years ago, there wasn’t really anywhere in Newcastle doing them well. We’ve also been committed to the quality of our burgers, which is why we use local beef and each of our burgers is ground, weighed, and pressed by hand on a daily basis.”

Shoryu Ramen to launch sites in Manchester and Covent Garden: Shoryu Ramen Restaurant Group, which specialises in Kyushu cuisine, from the southernmost of Japan’s main islands, will launch its fifth London restaurant in Covent Garden and first restaurant outside the capital in Manchester – both in the summer. The restaurants will offer the brand’s signature Hakata tonkotsu ramen, Shoryu buns and Gekkeikan Royal Warrant sake. All interiors will be designed by Blenheim, with the Covent Garden site in Great Queen Street featuring a bar and dining area decorated with white tiles and brickwork. The Manchester venue in Piccadilly will feature an al-fresco dining area, an open kitchen and mini dining pods for smaller groups. Shoryu Ramen chief executive Tak Tokumine said: “As the British market has become more accustomed to noodles, we’re able to introduce very specific dishes, such as Hakata tonkotsu ramen, for those looking for the real deal. I want to make sure everyone can experience real flavours, real dishes on their doorstep.” Formed in 2012, Shoryu Ramen’s other London venues are in Soho, Carnaby, Regent Street and Liverpool Street.
 
New Thai restaurant concept opens on former Giggling Squid site in Crawley: A new Thai restaurant concept has opened on the former Giggling Squid site in Crawley, West Sussex. Namthip Willcox, Natthaphan Phatthance and Duennapa Kemthong have launched Royal Thai Taste in the High Street next to The George Hotel. The trio has set up the business having previously run the kitchen at a pub in Newbury, Berkshire. Willcox told the Crawley News: “At the start of the year I sat down with Natthaphan and Duennapa and asked if they wanted to start a business, as Natthaphan is a great cook and Duennapa is a perfect host. So between the three of us we just thought let’s go for it, move to Crawley and open a Thai restaurant in the town centre. It is a very diverse town. We hope everyone will want to try our own style of Thai food.” Giggling Squid closed its Crawley restaurant last June having been open for five years. Co-owner Andrew Laurillard said at the time: “Crawley was the only site we’ve had that never really got going and it has always been slightly marginal. If you have a table and take three of the legs away it is going to get very wobbly and fall over. It is the same for our business.”

Aberdeen-based Indian restaurant set for major expansion with four new UK sites: Aberdeen-based Indian restaurant Shri Bheema’s is set for major expansion with four new UK sites. The company, which has two restaurants in Aberdeen, is opening two venues in Edinburgh and one each in London and Milton Keynes. The first new site will be at Gants Hill in London, which is due to launch on Thursday, 5 May. That will be followed later in the month by its inaugural Edinburgh site in Nicolson Street. The second site in the city will open later in the year in Constitution Street as will an outlet in Queensway in Milton Keynes. The company said: “We are delighted to announce that Shri Bheema’s is opening four new branches. It will be our pleasure to serve you at our new locations with the same quality and service you have come to expect of us. We hope to see you soon. We also take this opportunity to thank all our customers, friends, family and suppliers for their continued support throughout these years.” The new sites will join the existing branches in Aberdeen in Belmont Street and at the Parkway Inn in the suburb of Bridge of Don.
 
Randall & Aubin to open first franchised restaurant after securing Manchester site: Soho-based seafood restaurant and oyster bar Randall & Aubin is to open its first franchise site in Manchester. The restaurant, co-owned by chef Ed Baines, will open in Bridge Street on the site of the Rankin Style furniture shop. The Manchester site will be operated by franchisee James Storey, a hospitality veteran of 32 years. Having now secured a home, Storey said, subject to planning, Randall & Aubin’s 130-cover Manchester restaurant should open by September. He told Manchester Confidential: “Randall & Aubin is two different animals – one at lunchtime and then one in the evening when it becomes bouncy, loud and very hip – very Soho. We’re offering top quality seafood and champagne but to a driving beat of eclectic indie music. It creates a very interesting, unusual blend – something I don’t believe Manchester has seen the likes of before. Manchester is seen as the most up-and-coming area for restaurants outside of London, and given the nature of the brand and the way people react to it, we think Randall & Aubin suits Manchester perfectly. We’ve looked around multiple sites in Manchester, but Bridge Street’s position just off Deansgate and bordering Spinningfields is the perfect spot for us.” Randall & Aubin was launched in an old Edwardian butcher’s shop in Soho’s Brewer Street in 1996.
 
JD Wetherspoon partnership with CLIC Sargent hits £12m: CLIC Sargent’s corporate partnership with JD Wetherspoon has raised £12m for the charity since it was formed in 2002, the equivalent of £850,000 annually over the past 14 years. Recent fundraising events have included the UK-wide Kick, a five-a-side football tournament where more than 550 teams from JD Wetherspoon’s pubs across the UK raised nearly £500,000 for the charity. A national, pub-wide darts competition also raised more than £200,000 for CLIC Sargent throughout March. The original fundraising target was set at £500,000 but the reaction from staff and supporters was so positive the target has been raised each year since. Kate Lee, chief executive of CLIC Sargent, said: “We are truly blown away by this spectacular fundraising total. The money raised by JD Wetherspoon helps us provide vital support for young cancer patients. Hundreds of families will have benefited directly from these funds.” Tim Martin, founder of JD Wetherspoon, said: “We are extremely proud of our association with CLIC Sargent. Since 2002 our staff and customers have brilliantly supported our fundraising efforts. The fact that we have now raised £12m for such a wonderful charity is thanks to them. We look forward to raising even more money in the future.”
 
Amber Taverns sees turnover pass £50m, reports near £3m pre-tax profit rise, secures increase in revolving credit facility to accelerate expansion: Managed operator Amber Taverns has seen its turnover pass the £50m mark and also reported an almost £3m increase in pre-tax profit. The company saw turnover rise 21.4% to £52,602,681 in the year ending 31 January 2016, compared with £43,337,307 the year before, according to accounts filed with Companies House. Pre-tax profit jumped to £8,160,923, compared with £5,465,796 the previous year. It also reported it had since secured an increase in its revolving credit facility to accelerate its expansion programme. The company stated: “The directors are pleased to report sales of £52,602,681 (2015: £43,337,307), a 21.4% increase over the previous year. Operating profit before exceptional items was £8,164,643 (2015: £6,736,986), an increase of 21.2%. Following the change of ownership, the company had a full valuation of its freehold property. These valuations were adopted and no further evaluation has taken place. Therefore there is no change in the revaluation reserve during the year. Following an impairment review it was agreed that no impairment charge was required at the year-end (2015: £410,000). The directors believe the estate carrying value to be appropriate. It is anticipated that the company’s portfolio will continue to grow as further acquisition and development opportunities arise. At the beginning of 2015/16 the company owned 102 units. A further 19 units were acquired during the year and one site in Keighley was disposed of. Eleven of the new sites were trading at 31 January 2016. The estate then consisted of 112 trading freehold public houses with a further eight sites being refurbished. Since year-end, the company has exchanged on one additional site. In March 2015, the group secured a revolving credit facility to facilitate its expansion program under its new ownership. In February 2016, it secured an increase to this facility to accelerate its acquisition programme. These facilities are due to expire at the end of May 2019. The directors remain confident that the company’s well proven formula of a value offer in a modern community pub environment will generate further significant growth in profits in 2016/17 and that the company will continue to develop and expand its offering in the changing economic climate successfully.”
 
Punch to invest £3m in Scottish estate: Punch is to invest £3m in its 200-plus Scottish estate this year with large-scale refurbishments of the company’s hotels and restaurants that it said would create 250 jobs. The company said it would develop key hotel sites in northern Scotland, the Central Belt and Borders, along with a number of pub sites throughout the country. Operations director Brian Davidson said the investment would cover everything from hotels to “traditional wet-led sites” and gastro-pubs. He told The Scotsman: “Tourism and the economy in Scotland are particularly buoyant and we have seen a growing demand for good quality hotel accommodation coupled with traditional Scottish hospitality. Our hotels and pubs are all in prime locations and refurbishment schemes have been designed to make the most of the site’s heritage whilst celebrating locally sourced food and drink.” Punch’s investment in Scotland is in addition to the £1m it spent recently on the 24-bedroom Portree Hotel on the Isle of Skye and £500,000 developing the 16-bedroom Crown Hotel in Stornoway.
 
Michelin-starred chef tipped to open in Brighton: Michelin-starred chef Matt Gillan is tipped to open a restaurant in Brighton once he leaves The Pass at South Lodge hotel at the end of this month. The chef is leaving the South Lodge Hotel in Lower Beeding, West Sussex, where he headed up The Pass restaurant, after ten years. His replacement at The Pass is Ian Swainson, a Brighton resident and decorated chef who has won Michelin stars at three separate restaurants. In his time at The Pass, Gillan retained a Michelin star for five years and won four AA rosettes. Last year he gained national recognition after making the grand finals of BBC show Great British Menu. His main dish “Teaching and Preaching”, a goat dish inspired by his mother’s homeland of St Helena, was featured at a special banquet celebrating 100 years of the Women’s Institute, after receiving straight “ten” scores from both the chefs and judges.
 
Lake District entrepreneur opens upmarket wine and champagne bar with patisserie concept: A new upmarket wine and champagne bar with patisserie concept has opened in the Lake District. The team behind the Cranleigh Boutique hotel brand in Bowness-on-Windermere has launched 95-seat venue The Fizzy Tarté in the Cumbrian town. It offers a selection of beers, wine, champagne and bespoke cocktails, together with light bites. It has introduced a VIP membership to create a “strong, loyal customer base”. Cranleigh Boutique Brand chief executive Stephen Hargreaves told Cumbria Crack: “Our objective right from the outset was to create an upmarket ‘city bar’ that appears to have been ‘lifted’ up from London and placed on the shores of Lake Windermere; and we’ve achieved that. We hope The Fizzy Tarté will contribute to an overall boost for tourism in the Lakes.” The Fizzy Tarté is the first of two developments being launched by the Cranleigh brand this year, the second being an upmarket club, The Purple Octopus, on the same site, which is due to open in September. Hargreaves launched the Cranleigh Boutique brand in 2007 and now has three hotels – The Cranleigh Boutique, Boutique Church Suites and The Hideout Boutique House.
 
New fine dining restaurant concept to open in Aberdeenshire: A new fine dining restaurant concept is opening in Aberdeenshire on Saturday (23 April). Craig and Donna Allan are launching high-end venue Chapter One in Inverurie. They hope to bring a taste of fine dining to the town, with chefs joining the project from Café 52 in Aberdeen and the five-star Mayfair hotel, Claridge’s. Donna Allan told The Press and Journal: “We were both in the oil industry, but decided it was time to diversify into something new. It has always been a passion of Craig’s to open a restaurant, so we thought this was the best time to do it. The town also has a rapidly growing population and we wanted to give people an experience they haven’t had before. We found there are lots of international restaurants, but the only other place you could get what we are offering may be in a hotel or if you were to travel into Aberdeen. Our slogan says it is ‘a new beginning’, but this isn’t just the case for Craig and I, but for the residents of Inverurie.”
 
The Stable opens first London site in Whitechapel: Artisan pizza and cider brand The Stable, which is 51% owned by Fuller’s, has opened its first London site – in Whitechapel. It is the 14th site for the brand, which was founded in Dorset in 2009. The restaurant offers hand-made pizzas and more than 80 ciders, with long, communal tables and a stripped back design. There is also an open kitchen with the casual “order at the bar” system allowing customers more opportunities to sample different ciders. Co-founder Richard Cooper said: “It’s a very British thing, cider, so it follows that it should be accompanied with the finest British produce. It will appeal to young and old alike because what unites them is an attitude to seek out the finest expression of authenticity.”
 
Franco Manca hits 20 sites, 27 by summer: A new Franco Manca has opened in Friary Street, Guildford, taking the estate size to 20. New restaurants are being built in Brighton (due to open May), Tooting Market (June), Muswell Hill Broadway (June), Bromley (June), and Kilburn High Road (July). Sites have also been secured in Putney High Street and the Nova Victoria development, which will bring the estate size to 27 by the summer. A number of further sites are under negotiation. A spokesman said: “We tread slowly – we sometimes sign sites but do not develop them immediately. Bermondsey Street was empty for two years and Stoke Newington for six months until we were ready to open them. We will do the same thing going forward.”

BaxterStorey offers SMEs on-site opportunity to test sustainable ideas: Contract catering company BaxterStorey has partnered with RBS Innovation Gateway to support small to medium-sized companies (SMEs) with big ideas on sustainability. BaxterStorey will give SMEs and inventors the chance to test their ideas at its sites and is seeking projects that focus on employee engagement and cutting energy, water and waste that could be piloted across its operations. Successful companies will have the chance to prove their technologies work in a real environment and provide future clients with datasets. The Innovation Gateway also provides networking opportunities and tailored workshops to accelerate access to market. BaxterStorey head of sustainable business Mike Hanson said: “Innovation Gateway is geared towards finding new and inventive sustainability solutions. For us, that doesn’t just mean building on our existing environmental credentials but also looking for creative ways to support employees and clients.” Applications are open via the Innovation Gateway website and will close on Thursday, 12 May. BaxterStorey’s shortlist will then be asked to pitch for the opportunity to implement their innovation.
 
Enterprise Inns launches Community Heroes Awards 2016: Enterprise Inns has launched its Community Heroes Awards 2016 with publicans having the chance to win up to £6,000 to benefit local projects. The awards, now in their fifth year, will also be open to publicans in its Beacon estate for the first time. Publicans from each of Enterprise’s 18 geographic divisions will be judged by a guest panel of experts in an initial round where the winner and two runners-up will receive £3,000 and £1,000 respectively to further support community initiatives. The panel will then select a national champion and runner-up from the divisional winners, with the overall winner receiving the Enterprise Community Heroes trophy and a further £3,000 for community initiatives. The national runner-up will be presented with an additional £2,000 to spend on local projects. The winners will be revealed at a ceremony on 17 October at the Chesford Grange Hotel in Warwickshire. Last year, there were 426 entries, up from 320 in 2014, with Victoria McDonald, who runs The Cellar House in Norwich, named the winner. Enterprise sales and marketing director James Armitage said: “Pubs are the cornerstone of so many communities across the UK, and that’s made possible by the selfless publicans who run them and recognise that they’re in a unique position to bring their communities together. We are delighted to continue highlighting their fantastic work, and helping them to continue supporting local people with the prize fund.”
 
France hits McDonald’s with tax bill: McDonald’s France has been sent a bill for alleged unpaid taxes, as part of a crackdown by French authorities on multinational companies that shift their profits abroad. The French finance ministry has taken issue with the amount of money McDonald’s France paid to a Luxembourg-based affiliate for services – including its use of the fast food restaurant brand’s name, which helped to reduce McDonald’s taxable profits in the country. McDonald’s France declined to comment on reports of the bill, which some media reports have suggested could be as high as €300m – including €100m in fines. Instead, the company said in a statement: “McDonald’s is one of the biggest taxpayers in France and we are proud of it.” It added McDonald’s and its franchisees had paid €1.2bn in taxes since 2009, invested €1bn and created more than 15,000 jobs in France. News of the tax bill, first reported by French business magazine L’Expansion, follows a European Commission investigation into a deal that McDonald’s struck with tax authorities in Luxembourg. In December, the commission accused Luxembourg of establishing a tax scheme for McDonald’s that allows the US fast food group to pay no tax on its European royalties, either in the US or in the Grand Duchy. Margrethe Vestager, competition commissioner, said at the time Luxembourg had acted against the spirit of a US-Luxembourg double taxation treaty. “A tax ruling that agrees to McDonald’s paying no tax on their European royalties either in Luxembourg or in the US has to be looked at very carefully under EU state aid rules,” she said. “The purpose of double taxation treaties between countries is to avoid double taxation – not to justify double non-taxation.”
 
Douglas Jack to join Peel Hunt: Highly regarded leisure analyst Douglas Jack is to leave Numis Securities to join Peel Hunt – Jack is not due to start until early 2017 because of a nine-month contractual term. He will replace Peel Hunt’s Nick Batram. GVC Holdings, the online gaming operator, has hired Batram to the newly created role of head of investor relations and corporate strategy. The strategic non-board appointment is the latest high profile recruitment to be announced ahead of the completion of the proposed recommended acquisition of bwin.party on 1 February 2016 and follows the recruitment of Shay Segev, previously with Playtech and Gala Coral, as GVC’s chief operating officer. Colleague Ivor Jones is also leaving with Jack to join Peel Hunt, starting in July. Peel Hunt is the number one rated research house for small-mid cap stocks. Peel Hunt head of research Charles Hall said: “We are delighted to have recruited the strongest team in the leisure sector. We are focused on providing both corporate and institutional clients with the best service in the market and the addition of Doug and Ivor will reinforce our strong presence in the wider consumer sector.”
 
Starbucks opens first store in South Africa, plans up to 200 across country: Starbucks has opened its first outlet in sub-Saharan Africa – in Johannesburg. The US company has partnered with local foodservice firm Taste Holdings in a bid to muscle in on South Africa’s burgeoning urban coffee market. Taste Holdings signed an exclusive deal and will own and operate Starbucks stores in the country. Taste, which also holds a licence agreement to develop the Domino’s Pizza brand in South Africa, will open a second branch in Midrand by the end of April, then follow with 12 to 15 more stores during the next two years. Starbucks operates sites in Cairo, Egypt, and plans to open 150 to 200 stores across South Africa, the continent’s second-largest economy, Business Tech reports.
 
Exeter’s Queen Street dining quarter secures final two restaurants: The culinary line-up is complete in the new £12m dining quarter at the revamped Guildhall Shopping Centre in Exeter, with the addition of Deep South-inspired gourmet chicken brand Absurd Bird and Lebanese restaurant Comptoir Libanais. The newcomers will join Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay, artisan pizza and cider brand The Stable, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Artigiano’s craft beer brand The Terrace, barbecue restaurant Grillstock and Faucet Inns’ Scandinavian-inspired restaurant and cafe concept Kupp. It means the development will be fully let when it opens at the end of August. Absurd Bird’s only UK site is in London’s Spitalfields, with another to open soon in Soho, while Comptoir Libanais has 11 sites across London and the south east. Comptoir Libanais chief executive Chaker Hanna told the Express & Echo: “We are working closely with (centre owners) Aviva Investors to create a restaurant to showcase the best of Lebanese cuisine to the local community, businesses and families.” Mark Hall, of Absurd Bird, said: “We were very keen to bring Absurd outside of London where we think there is an opportunity in the market for our brand. Exeter was always a city on our radar, with a vibrant heart to the city centre and a great demographic to enjoy our offer.”
 
Five Guys to open restaurant on former Toby Carvery site in Luton: Better burger brand Five Guys is to open a site in Luton, Bedfordshire. The company is opening the venue at the former Mitchells & Butlers-owned Toby Carvery restaurant in The Mall in St George’s Square. A spokesman told the Luton on Sunday: “We’re very excited to be opening in Luton soon.” Five Guys has more than 40 restaurants in the UK having opened its first in Covent Garden, London, in 2013.
 
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 anne.steele@propelinfo.com 

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