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Wed 18th May 2016 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Licensing expert Philip Kolvin QC unveils 12-point manifesto for night-time economy: Licensing expert and head of Cornerstone Barristers Philip Kolvin QC has unveiled a 12-point manifesto to help develop vibrant and sustainable night-time economies in towns and cities. Kolvin is releasing his vision at the Music Cities Convention in Brighton today (Wednesday, 18 May). The night-time economy is worth £66bn to the UK economy and provides jobs for 1.3 million people but Kolvin said its benefits go far wider. He added: “The leisure economy is a big part of the reason why people move to cities, including workers and students. It is fundamental to the tourist draw of the UK. It is the inspiration and foundation for much of our creative industries – fashion, music, media and performance. It is the driver for supply chains of vital importance to local economies, including food and beverage, transportation, retail and security. As shopping progressively moves online, it is fundamental to the vitality and viability of our high streets. Without it, many of our city centre streets would be lonely and dangerous places at night. Without it, many streets would enter spirals of decline. Most importantly, the leisure economy is where, after the stresses of ever-longer working days, we meet, eat, socialise, drink, dance, learn, laugh, fall in love, celebrate, and behave as we were born to behave, as social animals. But night-time economies are like gardens. They need to be planned and tended. Otherwise they may grow wild or even decay. This manifesto lays down some simple messages for the development of vibrant, sustainable night-time economies.” The manifesto includes every town and city having a vision for its night-time economy; an identified night-time champion; and towns and cities being designed, so far as possible, to enhance the experience of users of the night-time economy. Night-time operators will promote and support voluntary local schemes raising standards of operation and protection, while national and local licensing policies shall recognise the value of the night-time economy. The manifesto also pledges that the industry will participate in a set of qualifications forming a path of career development for all those working in, regulating or otherwise involved in the night-time economy. Kolvin added: “Amid the constant debate about whether the leisure economy is over or under-regulated, it is easy to forget what a vibrant and important leisure culture we have, and how important it is that we cherish and foster it. The manifesto is intended to provoke a discussion about the key principles for doing so.”

Industry News:

Less than three weeks to go to Professor Chris Edger’s Brands Masterclass: There is less than three weeks to go to the Professor Chris Edger’s new Brands Masterclass, which examines how to create and evolve powerful brands. The event takes place on Friday, 10 June in the Chartered Accounts Hall at One Moorgate Place in London. Companies signed up to attend include Mitchells & Butlers, Greene King, The Restaurant Group, Loungers, Intertain, Rank, Coaching Inn Group, Cambscuisine, Drake & Morgan, Tesco Hospitality, Aubaine, Giraffe, My Lahore, Elliotts, Excelerate Resources, TLC Inns, Twisted Bars, SA Brain, Castle Rock Brewery, Rank, Oakman Inns, Gaucho, Dishoom, Buzzworks, Jackson & Rye, Square Pie, Wright Brothers, Maxwells, Gather and Gather and Pure. 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 Janfranco Caro, creative director, and Sarah Mannerings, head of interior design, 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

SIBA hits 300-member Supplier Associate milestone: The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) announced today (Wednesday, 18 May) it had passed a significant milestone, with 300 companies now enjoying Supplier Associate membership. SIBA said the range of companies – “from can-makers to hop merchants, design agencies to equipment manufacturers” – and the growing number of suppliers supporting and working in the brewing industry was a “positive sign for the health of this growing sector”. SIBA communications and membership director Tony Jerome said: “SIBA’s Supplier Associates support the brewing industry in a variety of ways and contribute special discounts and services to SIBA breweries, often offering free consultations or advice via our network of regional meetings and other events. The fact the number has now reached 300 is testament to the health of the brewing industry as a whole and I would like to thank all the companies who have joined SIBA for their continued support.” One Supplier Associate David Smith, who joined SIBA in 1988 as DA Smith Brewing Services (now Brewing Services & Consultancy), said: “I believe the help given by members of SIBA and SIBA Council in the early days of establishing my business were key to it getting off the ground.” Smith also served on the SIBA Council for more than 14 years and was SIBA’s first technical director. To celebrate the 300-member landmark, many SIBA Supplier Associate members are offering special discounts or services to UK breweries that are SIBA members.

London’s budget hotel sector experiences significant growth, 9,000 rooms opened since 2012 Olympics: London’s budget hotel sector has experienced significant growth since the city hosted the 2012 Olympic Games, with more than 9,000 budget rooms opening in that period, according to a new report. The London Hotel Development Monitor report from real estate company JLL showed that of the 18,000 hotel rooms which have opened in London since 2012, more than half are in the budget sector, with a further third of the 7,000 rooms due for completion this year in the same sector. Low-cost hotels now make up 20% of total room stock across the city, it said. The report also revealed that high rents and values in the West End of London are leading to the expansion of traditional boundaries. It added infrastructure improvements, especially within the digital economy, have created a “knowledge corridor” that stretches from Bloomsbury to Paddington, taking in Fitzrovia and north of Oxford Street and leading to increased hotel activity. Shoreditch has also become a hot spot for hotel development because of building availability and lower costs compared with more central locations, with new hotels including Z Hotels and Nobu Hotel Shoreditch opening. During 2016, a further 800 rooms are expected to be added to the area. Graham Craggs, managing director in JLL’s hotels and hospitality group, told Property Week: “2015 was an exceptionally strong year in terms of hotel transactions in London. Activity will remain high in 2016 and we expect the trend will shift towards single-asset transactions. Underlying market fundamentals continue to be positive and the outlook for hotel performance in London is good.” The report said London dominates investment across Europe’s hotel sector – attracting 36% of total investment.

Travel and restaurant guide writer to open Cornish pub with store and community shop: Travel and restaurant guide writer Tremayne Carew Pole is opening a pub, The Carew Arms in the village of Antony, near Torpoint, previously known as The Ring O’Bells. The pub, acquired through Christie & Co, is undergoing extensive renovation and will reopen from mid-July. Pole, founder of the travel and restaurant guide book series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s Guide To… has purchased the freehold of The Carew Arms and aims to bring affordable, field-to-fork cooking to an under-represented part of Cornwall by bringing celebrated chef Emily Watkins, winner of the south west region on BBC2’s Great British Menu, on board. Part of the two-storey building will be used as a general store and farm and community shop, which will offer local essentials and the best of Cornish artisanal products, alongside a range of community services. The store will open from 8am and will include a cafe space that will serve proper barista coffees and snacks. Stephen Champion, business agent at Christie & Co’s Exeter office, said: “We are delighted to see The Ring O’Bells sold for continued use as a public house. We are seeing an increase in the number of local pubs being sold to people who want to keep the businesses open, and we are pleased to see that the Carew Arms is due to reopen after a period of extensive work on the property. We have no doubt Mr Carew Pole’s deep-rooted local connections will help him turn the pub back into a popular destination for locals and visitors to the area.”

AccorHotels-owned ‘upmarket Airbnb’ Onefinestay joins BHA: Onefinestay, a UK start-up offering luxury Airbnb-style holiday rentals that was acquired by French hotel group AccorHotels for £117m last month, has joined the British Hospitality Association (BHA). The company offers “handmade hospitality”, with guests staying in private homes while the owners are out of town. The company offers round-the-clock guest services. Its ever-growing portfolio of more than 2,600 homes spans London, New York, Paris, Los Angeles and Rome. For homeowners, Onefinestay provides marketing, insurance, guest-screening, cleaning, management and maintenance services. BHA chief executive Ufi Ibrahim said: “We’re delighted to welcome Onefinestay as a member. The company has clearly developed a new style of home rental, which we are proud to add to our growing family of hospitality businesses. I think it demonstrates how the hospitality industry is constantly evolving to meet the needs of its customers and how the BHA is a modern and inclusive organisation.” Onefinestay, founded in 2010 with £56m of venture capital backing, is a separate business unit within AccorHotels and is led by co-founder and chief executive Greg Marsh. Marsh said: “As a British born and bred company, we have the utmost respect for the BHA and its role as a voice for the UK hospitality industry.”

BaxterStorey agrees deal to buy wonky asparagus to help tackle food waste increase across hospitality sector: Contract catering company BaxterStorey has agreed a deal to buy wonky asparagus to help tackle the increase in food waste across the hospitality sector. The company is working with Watts Farm in Kent and Essex, which supplies supermarkets, foodservice providers, restaurants and farmers’ markets with about 70 different fruit and vegetable products. Last year, Watts Farm produced 36 tonnes of perfectly good asparagus, but 15% of this did not meet the specification required and was graded as waste. Uneven asparagus is graded as class two or three, and much of this product is used as compost. BaxterStorey has committed to purchasing class two and three asparagus from Watts Farm to use across many of its locations on a trial basis, with a view to rolling out across further sites. It will also take some of the farm’s asparagus trimmings, which are routinely wasted, to use them as the basis of a range of fresh soups, stocks and sauces. Demand for uniformity in fruit and vegetables is causing an increase in food waste across the UK, with a study by consumer research company WRAP estimating £3bn of food will be wasted by the UK foodservice and hospitality sector this year, up from £2.5bn in 2011.

Amazon expands restaurant delivery service to New York City and Dallas, ninth and tenth US markets: Amazon has expanded its restaurant delivery business to New York City and Dallas, Texas, its ninth and tenth US markets. The Amazon Restaurants service will be available in more than 350 restaurants in the Manhattan borough, including the Chelsea, Harlem and Financial District neighbourhoods, but not in New York’s outer boroughs. Orders should be delivered in one hour or less, Amazon said. The service is free with an Amazon Prime membership, which costs $99 a year. The company said it would not mark up prices higher than those shown on a restaurant’s current online menu. Amazon customers can order from restaurants using the company’s Prime Now mobile app or by visiting the Prime Now website, where consumers can view participating restaurants, browse menus, place orders and watch as their delivery travels in real time. Through Amazon’s Prime Now portals, customers in select cities can also place delivery orders for items such as groceries, electronics and health and beauty products. Amazon launched Prime Now in late 2014 – in just one Manhattan postcode.

McDonald’s tests no-seating store model in the US: McDonald’s is testing a new store model in the US that has a walk-up window for ordering and picking up food, and two drive-thru lanes for cars – but no indoor seating at all. This model is currently being tested in Jersey City, Texas, Georgia and Washington State. According to McDonald’s, this is the brand’s attempt to develop a new kind of restaurant that will cater to customers’ demand for speed and convenience, and allow it to build smaller, less costly stores that emphasise drive-thru sales, where they typically do most of their business. “It’s part of an ongoing effort to be more relevant to consumers and meet their needs,” said Mwaffak Kanjee, vice-president and general manager of McDonald’s New York Metro region. “We’re trying to stay ahead of our competition, and stay ahead of the needs and demands of our customers,” said Bruce Colley, franchise owner of the Jersey City store, who also owns 29 McDonald’s franchise restaurants in New York. “If we can serve good food and do it a little faster than our competitors, hopefully they’ll come back here rather than go someplace else.”

Company News:

Simon Townsend – we’ll have ten ‘managed expert’ pubs open by September: Enterprise Inns chief executive Simon Townsend has told Propel the company experts to have ten “managed expert” pubs open by September – six with Hippo Inns, led by Rupert Clevely, two with Laine Pub Company and two with Karen Jones’ Food & Fuel business. The business model operates as a stand-alone joint venture. Townsend said the company was engaged in a “number of conversations” with other multi-site operators but it was “important that Enterprise sees a pipeline of opportunities (within the estate) with each of them” before signing a deal. Meanwhile, the company is to launch a new Partnership Tenancy Plus agreement in its second half. The new agreement will see Enterprise take on “even more responsibility” for repairs but also make a commitment to match-fund investment by licensees. Townsend reiterated that the company expects to be running an estate of 4,200 pubs by 2030, down from the current estate size of just less than 5,000 pubs – the estate will comprise circa 1,000 pubs let on commercial terms, 750 to 850 managed pubs, and the remainder let as traditional tenancies and leases.

Owner of Red Hot World Buffet in Liverpool charged with breaching hygiene standards for third time in 13 months: The owner of Red Hot World Buffet in Liverpool has been charged with breaching hygiene standards for the third time in 13 months. It had already admitted failings that allowed mice to roam the Liverpool ONE venue in both January and September of last year. But court documents have revealed it has been hit with five new charges all relating to 18 March. They are mouse droppings found in the ground-floor kitchen and bar, gaps in the structure allowing mice to enter the premises, dirty ground-floor equipment and surfaces, mice “active” in food preparation areas causing a risk of contamination, and expired ham and chicken slices found in the restaurant’s freezer, reports the Liverpool Echo. The owner admitted to seven food hygiene breaches at Liverpool magistrates’ court in February that allowed mice to be present on the premises. It came after the closure of a number of restaurants in Liverpool ONE earlier this year. Casual Dining Group brand Las Iguanas and Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi were shut temporarily for hygiene reasons after evidence of mice was found on the upper tier of the complex. And YO! Sushi and Nando’s closed their doors in a move also sparked by concerns about mice.

Starbucks issues first US corporate sustainability bond: Starbucks has completed the underwriting of an initial public offering of senior notes, including the first US corporate sustainability bond. The company said it would use the proceeds from $500m in 2.45% senior notes due in 2026, to help enhance the company’s sustainability programmes centred around its coffee supply chain management through a variety of eligible sustainability projects. The initiatives include coffee purchases from third-party suppliers that comply with Starbucks’ ethical sourcing verification programme of coffee and farmer equity practices, as well as the development and operation of farmer support centres in coffee-growing regions. In addition, the proceeds will be used to help facilitate short and long-term loans made through the company’s Global Farmer Fund. Chief financial officer Scott Maw said: “Coffee is at the core of our business, and we intend to continue to finance initiatives that will make a positive social and environmental impact in our coffee supply chain as well as other areas across our business. Issuing a bond focused on sustainable sourcing demonstrates that sustainability is not just an add-on, but an integral part of Starbucks, including our strategy and finances.” Starbucks said it ethically sourced its coffee every year by supporting coffee farming communities, assisting in efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change, and maintaining crop stability and farm sustainability in developing countries. Currently, Starbucks operates a network of eight Farmer Support Centres in Rwanda, Tanzania, Guatemala, Colombia, China, Ethiopia, Costa Rica and Indonesia.

Chilango, Craft Beer Co and The Breakfast Club among tenants as final line-up at Boxpark in Croydon revealed: Boxpark has revealed the final line-up of food and drink outlets set to fill the pop-up mall opening next to East Croydon station. The company confirmed the development would open in September with 41 retailers on the site at Ruskin Square. Alongside anchor tenant MeatLiquor will be The Breakfast Club as well as Craft Beer Co and Mexican restaurant Chilango, which has secured a unit for its first south London outlet. The development will also house street food sellers Mama Lan, which will serve Chinese fare while there will be Indian from Indi-go. Boxpark Croydon will be dedicated to street food and entertainment unlike the original site in Shoreditch, which also includes retail. There will also be a number of Croydon outlets at the scheme. Yumn Brasserie, which has a restaurant in South End, will offer a British menu with a twist and Breadtree will bring a taste of Italy with its authentic bruschetta. The Cronx, Croydon’s local brewery, will launch its first beer bottle shop in Boxpark. Brgr&Beer, opened in Matthews Yard one year ago, will be branching out to open Wine&Deli. Also taking residence in the new development will be cafe Mud, Fish Wings & Tings, and Viet Do An run by Kate Moss’ brother Nick. Boxpark development director Matthew McMillan told the Croydon Advertiser: “We are delighted to have some of the capital’s freshest and most exciting food concepts alongside brilliant local operators bursting with new ideas. With a core focus on the best street food around, Boxpark Croydon will be without doubt London’s most vibrant new dining destination.”

Crafted Projects submits plans for £2.5m destination development in Newcastle city centre: Ladhar Group’s leisure division Crafted Projects has submitted plans for a rooftop cinema, bars and restaurants as part of a destination development in Newcastle city centre. Ladhar has spent several years working with conservation and heritage teams, Newcastle City Council and BID company NE1 to perfect the plans. The £2.5m project – White Hart Yard – covers more than 30,000 square feet of listed property between Grey Street and Cloth Market. The redevelopment would eventually encompass five floors and at least nine different zones. Works would be carried out at six buildings in Cloth Market to create a series of bars and restaurants, including units for pop-ups, nightclub zones and event spaces. Most of the required planning permission for the phase one, ground-floor work has been acquired in advance, which would feature two bars and a large, paved outside terrace. Link bridges connecting the zones are also planned. A design and heritage statement submitted by architects ID Partnership stated: “The vision from Crafted Projects is to provide an excellent reuse of these heritage buildings to provide a new city venue that will rival other regeneration projects as far afield as Borough Market in London.” Crafted Projects said the White Hart Yard scheme, once complete, would create up to 180 jobs. Last year, Crafted Projects spent £500,000 on its gin palace Pleased To Meet You in High Bridge. The company also operates the Cleaver and Redhouse in Newcastle Quayside and is creating a Neapolitan-inspired pizza and cocktail venue – Central Oven and Shaker – at the city’s Central Station.

Dunkin’ Donuts makes first foray into north west England with Liverpool opening: US doughnut company Dunkin’ Donuts has made its first foray into the north west of England by opening a site in Liverpool. The company has opened the store in the food court at the St John’s Shopping Centre, reports Click Liverpool. It is open seven days a week and serves the company’s full menu of doughnuts, coffees, lattes, baked goods and breakfast snacks. Massachusetts-headquartered Dunkin’ Donuts operates a global network of more than 11,400 sites. Founded more than 60 years ago, the company sells about 1.8 billion drinks and 2.8 billion doughnuts every year.

Bernardi’s owners to launch The Dog House basement cocktail bar: Gabriel and Marcello Bernardi, former executives of central London gastro-pub operator Cubitt House, will open a cocktail bar – The Dog House – underneath their Marylebone restaurant Bernardi’s. The cocktail bar will have a “playful, relaxed look and feel, decorated in a rich colour palette of dark greys and blues to contrast with the light and airy feel of the upstairs restaurant”, The Handbook reports. Access to the new bar will be via the restaurant or a separate entrance in Seymour Place, with the space featuring banquette seating around the walls and a number of smaller, more intimate tables, as well as stools at the bar. The Dog House will open on Friday, 10 June. The 120-cover restaurant and bar Bernardi’s offers a seasonal Italian menu, with dishes including tarragon gnocchi with rabbit ragu, broad beans and pancetta, and salted cod with white polenta, peperonata and sorrel. The Bernardis, who are of Italian descent but born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, played a key role in the establishment and success of the Cubitt House group.

Silk Road-inspired Samarkand restaurant set for summer launch in Fitzrovia: Samarkand, a restaurant inspired by the Silk Road and offering cuisine from Uzbekistan, will open in Fitzrovia this summer. The 150 square metre restaurant in Charlotte Street, on the former site of Spanish tapas restaurant Fino, will serve traditional Uzbek dishes, with a contemporary touch, for lunch and dinner seven days a week. The venue will feature a 130-cover dining room, with a 70 square foot mezzanine lounge bar serving an extensive selection of vodkas. Founder Sanjar Nabiev will take influence from his childhood to offer a modern take on Uzbek cuisine. Signature dishes will include jizbiz (lamb chops with sautéed potatoes), fatinon (a flaky, buttery bread), somsa (pastry parcels filled with lamb or sweet potato) and plov (fried rice with lamb and vegetables) – served alongside a shot of vodka. In addition, there will be a selection of bar snacks such as pickled vegetables and baclajan (aubergine caviar) on offer. Nabiev said: “I’m delighted to showcase the fusion of cultures and food the Silk Road has to offer. With cuisines so rarely showcased and interiors inspired by one of the oldest inhabited cities, we feel Samarkand will be a unique addition to London’s diverse culinary scene.”

Italian-American craft beer and kitchen concept Mason & Company to launch at Canalside: An Italian-American craft beer and kitchen concept – Mason & Company – will launch in June at the new Canalside food quarter at Here East in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford. Mason & Company is the brainchild of independent brewery The Five Points Brewing Company and street food company Capish?, which are both based in Hackney. The new venue is set to open on Friday, 17 June. Capish? began selling New York-style Italian food at Roman Road market in the East End in December 2012. The Canalside dining and drinking area is opposite the artists’ studios of Hackney Wick and will house 12 outlets in total, marking the latest phase in the reinvention of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Canalside, overlooking the Lee Canal, is part of the Here East complex on the site of the £300m former press and broadcast centre, housing BT Sport, a new Loughborough University campus, and a giant data centre.

Patisserie Valerie to open first Northern Ireland site next week: Patisserie Valerie, the company that has sector investor Luke Johnson as executive chairman, will open its first site in Northern Ireland next week. The company is opening the outlet in Donegal Square, Belfast, creating 25 jobs. It will offer the brand’s patisserie and cake range, which are handmade by bakers on site. Chief executive Paul May told the Belfast Telegraph: “We’re really excited about opening our Belfast cafe, especially as it’s our first to open in Northern Ireland. Customers have been asking us to come to the city for a long time, our store in Belfast is just the start of our expansion into Northern Ireland, where we hope to open more stores in the future.” Patisserie Valerie, launched in 1926 in Soho, London, by Belgian-born Madame Valerie, has more than 110 sites throughout the UK.

London-based smokehouse restaurant Rök to open second site in Islington: London-based smokehouse restaurant concept Rök is set to open its second site in Islington. The concept, which was launched in Shoreditch, is opening the 60-seat venue in Upper Street on Friday, 1 July. Rök Islington will launch with a seasonal summer menu by executive chef Matt Young featuring aged beef rump with creamed cows curd and sorrel vinegar, guinea fowl with semi-cured pork belly and butter-poached wild vegetables, and dark chocolate mousse with espresso sorbet and malted crumb, reports Hot Dinners. The bar will serve cocktails such as Seasonal Bones and Aquavit Sour. It will have a larger wine list than the Shoreditch site, with a focus on biodynamic and minimum intervention wines.

Supermac’s submits new EU trademark application to cover ‘full range of products’: Irish fast food company Supermac’s has submitted a new EU trademark application. The company won its first EU trademark case in January when it was awarded trademark rights to use its brand and name in the European Union despite opposition from McDonald’s. Now it has applied to the European Union Intellectual Property Office – formerly the Office for Harmonisation of the Internal Market (OHIM) – to have the full range of products and services offered by the company covered by its trademark. It added this was to ensure the company could “move forward with its future international expansion plans”. The company has been battling McDonald’s as it tries to expand its services outside Ireland. Earlier this year, the OHIM ruled Supermac’s could still use its brand name if it began trading across the EU, but could not sell its meat, fish, chicken nuggets or chips under the name because confusion might arise for English-speaking customers as to whose restaurant they were in. Supermac’s managing director Pat McDonagh told newstalk.com: “This is another progressive step forward for Supermac’s. Following on from OHIM’s decision, the EU trademark needs to comply with each of the quality items we serve our customers. For this reason we have made a new trademark application, which we believe will have a strong chance of success across every single one of our products and services.”

Swansea operators plan expansion: The owners of a popular Swansea nightspot have revealed plans to open a new venue in a five-figure investment in Swansea Marina. Matthew Benjamin and Neil Navarra, who are behind the No6 bar, will open a new upmarket wine bar and meeting place called Squires in Swansea Marina’s Squire Court. They plan to install “business booths”, with free Wi-Fi and coffee, enabling companies to hold informal meetings at the bar or carry out work duties away from the office. The new venture is backed by a business regeneration grant from Swansea Council – a scheme in which developers pay project costs up-front, with some of these reimbursed by the local authority. Matthew Benjamin said: “I think over the next few years we will see the city develop into a premier destination for food, drink and entertainment. Swansea Marina is such a prime location and now is the time for businesses to put down roots here. The planned £500m development in the city over the next few years is only going to boost its value as a visitor destination. And I think the food and drink industry can be pivotal in the regeneration of Swansea and of south west Wales.” Squires will open this summer, with the wine bar having a nautical theme in keeping with its surroundings.

Ailantus acquires Greater Manchester hotel and spa in multimillion-pound deal: Ailantus Hotels, which operates sites in Cheshire, Oldham, Manchester and Yorkshire, has acquired the 81-bedroom Mercure Manchester Norton Grange Hotel and Spa in Rochdale in a multimillion-pound deal. The four-star, 81-bedroom Norton Grange is set in landscaped grounds and is eight miles from Manchester city centre. It includes 11 meeting rooms, accommodating up to 220 guests, and spa facilities including swimming pool, steam rooms and saunas, six treatment rooms and a relaxation room. The corporate team at Newcastle law firm Mincoffs advised Ailantus Hotels on the purchase, led by partner John Nicholson and assisted by solicitor Jonathan Smith. Nicholson said: “This acquisition is a great strategic fit for Ailantus and I’m sure they can bring further improvements to the hotel, as they have for others in the group. We have worked with Ailantus Hotels for over a decade and are very pleased to act in yet another significant deal.” The exact figure for the acquisition has not been disclosed. Other hotels in the Ailantus portfolio include Mere Court Hotel in Cheshire, Best Western Smokies Park in Oldham, and the Craiglands Hotel in Ilkley.

Whitbread completes Cockermouth hotel acquisition to redevelop site as Premier Inn and Brewer’s Fayre: Whitbread has completed its acquisition of 26-bedroom Shepherds Hotel in Cockermouth, Cumbria, for redevelopment as an 80-bedroom Premier Inn and 200-cover Brewer’s Fayre. The new scheme – recently granted planning permission by Allerdale Council – will create more than 50 jobs. Development work is set to begin imminently, with completion expected early next year. Agent Colliers International acted on behalf of Roy Campbell, owner of the AA three-starred property in Egremont Road. Neil Thomson, associate director, hotels agency at Colliers International’s Manchester office, who secured the sale, told the Cumbria Crack: “Whitbread’s acquisition of Shepherds Hotel is a vote of confidence for investment in Cockermouth and will help to meet a forecast rise in demand over the next decade for hotel accommodation and restaurant provision in and around the town, which is a key tourist destination within the Lake District National Park.” Nick Johnston, Premier Inn acquisition manager for north west and Wales, said: “Investing and regenerating existing hotel sites to offer great quality and value hotels is something we take great pride in – the Shepherds Hotel will be a great example of that.” The proposed deal was first mentioned in last October’s announcement by Whitbread that it had secured 1,100 more bedrooms and five pub restaurant sites across the UK towards its milestone target of 85,000 bedrooms by 2020.

Aubaine UK launches new menu, partners with guest data firm Revinate: French restaurant Aubaine has launched a new menu to strengthen the all-day dining offering at its UK sites and set up a partnership with guest data analytics company Revinate to increase the level and volume of customer feedback. Aubaine UK chief executive Nick Young said: “We have introduced 16 new dishes, all underpinning Aubaine’s roots in Provençal cuisine, strengthening our all-day dining experience and putting our bakery and patisserie at the heart of what we do. Our head chefs have helped us create these dishes and we are very proud of the changes we have made. We are also excited about partnering with Revinate to help us understand what our customers are saying about us – the feedback we receive will be incredibly powerful for the brand and for our restaurant management teams. It is one of the initiatives we have taken to increase the level and volume of customer feedback we get.” Young, formerly operations director at Spirit Pub Company, joined Aubaine as UK chief executive in January, underlining Aubaine’s ambition to grow in the UK and allow founder and group chief executive Hani Nakkach to focus on international expansion. Aubaine operates nine restaurants in the UK, all in London.

Masseria Group starts expansion of Ostuni restaurant brand with second London site: Masseria Group, which operates cafes, gastropubs and retail spaces in north west London, will expand its Italian restaurant brand Ostuni with a second site, this time in Highgate. The inaugural Ostuni launched in Queens Park, north west London, in 2013 and the venue was the capital’s first restaurant “dedicated entirely to the cuisine and wines of Puglia”, Masseria Group founder Rob Claassen said. The new 95-cover Ostuni will similarly reflect the style and design of a traditional trullo – or masseria – of Puglia and “evoke the rustic elegance of southern Italy’s largest region in an elegant yet functional space with distressed furniture and Apulian dry stone on the walls and limestone bar and floor”. Ostuni will launch in mid-June in Hampstead Lane and open daily from midday to 10.30pm.

New £500,000 restaurant concept with European twist opens in Beverley: A new restaurant concept with a European twist has opened at the Flemingate shopping centre in Beverley, East Yorkshire, following a £500,000 investment. The 118-cover Riva Lounge and Cafe Bar features a dining and bar area, gelato counter and chocolatier, and has created 24 jobs. The name is derived from the Lake Garda resort of Riva del Garda in Italy, where the owner toured while looking for inspiration. Riva Lounge and Cafe Bar managing director Shaun Thompson told The Business Desk: “Our aim from the start was to develop our own brand, to create the look and feel of an authentic European lounge bar and cafe bar. We studied many locations in Italy and the south of France in respect of their architecture, authenticity, ambience, service, menu offerings and how the staff and customers interacted. We have learned from lots of places and have listened to what people want in order to develop our own unique concept. We believe there will be nothing in the area offering such a blend of authentic European influences, with a modern twist.”

Regional operator acquires Kirkcaldy hotel after 30 years of family ownership: Dunfermline-based City Hotels has acquired the Victoria Hotel in Kirkcaldy, Fife. The 21-bedroom hotel, which is next door to City Hotels-owned Styx Club in Victoria Road, belonged to the Caira family for more than three decades but was put on the market for £1.1m almost a year ago. The purchase price has not been disclosed but agent Colliers International, which brokered the deal, said it was close to a new asking price of offers in the region of £850,000. Alistair Letham, a director in the UK hotels agency team at Colliers International, told The Courier: “A change in family circumstances and the need to concentrate on other business interests necessitated the (Victoria Hotel’s) sale. Its purchase by City Hotels means it will be an excellent complement to a strong portfolio.”

Speaker schedule for Propel summer conference confirmed: The speaker schedule for the Propel multi-club conference on Thursday, 7 July has been confirmed. The event also involves the Propel summer party in the evening and multi-site operators can claim two free places by emailing Jo Charity on jo.charity@propelinfo.com. Cyril Lavenant, of NPD Group, will provide insights on the current state of the UK foodservice market, how the UK compares with the US and Europe, and predict future progress. Paul Chantler, founder of leading French brewpub company Frogpubs, will talk about selling cask ale in France, entering the better burger market, the French labour market, the importance of food in the French market, and breaking into the French off-trade. 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, will explain the fund’s rationale for investment and appetite for further investment in the sector. 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. Simon Brigg, co-founder of five-strong Porky’s BBQ, will talk about how the company was founded, its Memphis-focused differentiation in the barbecue market, its BBQ lab, London expansion, and plans to go portable and develop sauce and clothing ranges and tips on crowdfunding in the wake of its £650,000 Crowdcube campaign. Lawson Mountstevens, managing director of Star Pubs & Bars, which invested £30m in its pub estate last year and let more than 50% of pubs to multiple operators, will set out how the company is co-investing with record numbers of multi-site operators across its 1,200-pub estate, improving support for tenants and looking to develop them. Luke Bishop, managing director of award-winning Polpo, will talk about the brand’s USPs, people culture, menu development, expansion in the regions and at Harvey Nichols, plus working with the founder – Restaurant Man Russell Norman. Clive Watson, founder of City Pub Company, will talk about building a pub company from scratch, raising money, finding great sites, market differentiation, incentivising managers, creating USPs at each site, and possible flotation. Jason Myers, chief executive of Busaba Eathai, the Thai brand founded by Alan Yau, will set out how the brand has been reshaped for national roll-out, its use of technology, its USPs, delivery success, and its market potential. David Fitzgerald, director of business development at Venners, and Malcolm Muir, director of consultancy, will set out common types of fraud and theft the company comes across and the simple steps operators can take to prevent losses and avoid compliance mistakes. Hamish Stoddart, co-founder of Peach Pub Company, will set out progress at the 17-strong pub company, its USPs, unique “partnership” business model, team and site development, and plans for the future.

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