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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 9th Jun 2016 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Ceru Restaurants secures first permanent site, £1m of EIS funds remaining to roll-out to further venues in London: The EIS-backed Eastern Mediterranean casual dining concept Ceru Restaurants has secured its first permanent site. The company, founded by restaurateurs Stephen Gee and Barry Hilton, along with food expert Tom Hilton, will open the venue in South Kensington, west London, in September. The 1,000 square foot site in Bute Street is being refurbished and will have 45 to 50 covers. A total of £1m of EIS-eligible funds remains to roll-out to further sites in the capital. The menu has a combination of Lebanese, Syrian, Israeli and Turkish food, with Cypriot influences. Ceru is currently undertaking a £1.4m fund-raise on crowdfunding platform AngelsDen as part of further expansion plans. It is offering a 46.58% equity stake in return for the investment and so far £104,993 has been pledged. The pitch states: “The company believes its concept has the potential to be rolled out on a national basis. During the first phase it intends to focus on the London market, which it believes to be the most successful and dynamic in the UK. The company plans to raise up to £2m, of which £600,000 has already been raised to expand the business with an initial focus on the London area. The directors believe the funds raised together with further financing should be sufficient to open 14 units within five years at an estimated average cost of £405,000 per unit. Upon the target exit in five years, the restaurants are forecast to generate a combined cash return (Ebitda) before central costs of £2.3m per annum, representing a possible cash return (site Ebitda in year five) on £5.7m of capital expenditure of about 40%.”

Industry News:

Next recording for Propel Premium subscribers to feature Vapiano managing director Phil Sermon: The next recording for Propel Premium subscribers, to be sent out on Friday (10 June), will feature Vapiano managing director Phil Sermon. He talks about the company’s progress in the UK as well as its approach to recruitment, training, development of its people and interaction with guests. Operators, drinks companies, law firms, accountants, distributors and marketing firms are among the first companies to 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 Anne Steele on

Burger King trials ‘Whopperito’ – Whopper burger and burrito combined: Burger King is testing out a new menu item – the Whopperito – at select US restaurants. The Whopperito is essentially a combination of the company’s signature burger the Whopper (flame-grilled beef, American cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, mayo, ketchup, pickles and white onions) wrapped in a flour tortilla. The new menu item is being trialled on test menus at Burger King sites in Hermitage, Pennsylvania, and Warren, Ohio, as well as select locations in Texas. The company has been seen to be adventurous of late, including the recent creation of its first Burger King spa in Finland, which can be rented for three hours for $250, including entry to the company’s nearby restaurant.

Greene King IPA to become Greene Queen for royal birthday weekend: Greene King is renaming its flagship beer this weekend to mark the Queen’s official 90th birthday celebrations. Greene King IPA will become Greene Queen IPA at 90 hand-picked pubs from Friday (10 June) until Sunday. A limited edition Greene Queen IPA pump clip will appear on the chosen bars, featuring regal colours. Greene King’s Facebook page will also give away 90 limited edition bottles of Greene Queen IPA as part of the commemoration. Greene King managing director of brewing and brands Chris Houlton said: “Greene Queen IPA is still our same easy-drinking flagship beer that appeals to a range of drinkers and occasions and, with its fitting name, will be a great pint to accompany the celebrations this weekend.” Meanwhile, Young’s has also created a limited edition beer to celebrate the Queen’s birthday – All Ale the Queen – which will be available across all Young’s and Geronimo Inns pubs during the weekend.

London hotel industry expected to experience continued decline in 2016 but positive results next year: The hotel industry in London is expected to experience continued performance declines throughout 2016 but positive results the following year, a new report has revealed. The quarterly forecast report from STR and Tourism Economics said several factors were likely to have an impact this year, including the EU referendum and the ongoing security threat in Europe. However the report, which is based on historic hotel data records as well as several economic factors, expects performance recovery in 2017. It said this would be driven by domestic demand, indicated by gross-domestic-product growth, as well as an increase in the consumer price index and renewed investments activity. London has posted year-on-year growth in revpar for six consecutive years since 2010. However, the city has reported year-on-year occupancy declines for each month since November 2015. In April this year, London’s revpar dropped 3.2% to £95.60. Although average daily rate declined moderately (-0.5% to £128.34) during that period, occupancy dropped 2.7% to 74.5%. The report said London’s different hotel classes would experience varying degrees of growth. The “luxury” sector would likely be most affected by increases in supply, while demand remains slow from key feeder markets such as the Middle East, China and South America. In terms of average daily rate, 2015 marked the strongest rate increase for London’s luxury class since 2012. As the current global economic situation remains uncertain, marginal average daily rate growth is forecast to the end of 2016. It added supply growth is expected to outpace demand over the remainder of the year in the “midscale” and “economy” segment. Despite the imbalance, demand in this segment is still expected to be higher than the total London average. According to analysts, many price-conscious travellers will likely continue to choose accommodation in these classes because the exchange rate between other currencies (such as the euro) remains low against the pound.

CBRE – UK commercial property rental and capital values continuing to grow: Commercial property rental values grew by 0.1% across the UK in May, slightly down on the 0.2% per month for the past three months, according to the latest CBRE Monthly Index. Meanwhile, capital values grew by 0.2%, continuing the growth trend seen since the start of the year. Rental growth in May was weighed down by West End and Midtown offices in London. These two submarkets recorded rental value growth of 0.1% – their weakest since October 2013, leading central London office rental values to their weakest growth of 0.2% since June 2013. Although some parts of London demonstrated flat or slightly negative performance, parts of the capital performed well, such as the City, where office rental values grew by 0.6% last month, compared with just 0.1% in both March and April. Meanwhile, capital values across the UK grew by 0.2% in May, in line with the level of growth seen throughout the year, with the exception of March when values were hit by the one-off impact of stamp duty tax changes. Total returns followed the same pattern as capital values, demonstrating a steady growth of 0.6%, maintaining the level seen since January. Miles Gibson, head of UK research at CBRE UK, said: “Commercial rents and capital values continue to grow in a period of great uncertainty. The London office market has seen some volatility, but the fundamentals of the market are strong. This time next month, we’ll have a clearer idea of the direction capital values and rents will go in the second half of the year, and a flavour of the pace at which they will get there.”

Company News:

Leelex to open Ginstitute on Portobello Road: Agent Shelley Sandzer has secured a site on behalf of the restaurant and bar company Leelex, co-founded by Ged Feltham. The 5,970 square foot location at 186 Portobello Road will be transformed to include three separate elements – a distillery, pub and restaurant – split over basement, ground floor and first floor levels. It is due to open in November. The 1,309 square foot basement will be home to Ginstitute, the gin tasting and creation bar where customers can learn the history of the spirit as well as produce their own unique bottle of gin. The brand’s own Portobello Road Gin will also be produced on-site using a specially installed 400-litre still. The 1,713 square foot ground floor will be turned into a pub called the Resting Room, featuring spirits stored in barrels above the bar. Finally, the first floor will be home to a new restaurant concept named Gin Tonica, a Basque-inspired tapas restaurant based on the success of the Leelex-owned Pintura in Leeds. Leo Feldman, of Shelley Sandzer, said: “This beautiful landmark site, full of character, will make an excellent home for Portobello Road Gin and its associated concepts.” Ged Feltham, chief executive of Leelex, added: “Our heritage has played an important factor in the success of the brand and it was incredibly important for us to secure this site in Notting Hill. We believe we can create something very special for London here.”

Ed Turner received £226,000 pay-off following departure, Young’s 2016 annual report reveals: Former Geronimo Inns managing director Ed Turner received a pay-off of £226,337 following his departure last year, Young’s 2016 annual report has revealed. Turner left the company in July and the figure included £7,470 that was paid into a defined contribution scheme operated by the company and £3,000 to the law firm that advised him in connection with the cessation of his directorship and employment. The report showed retail director Patrick Dardis, who will take over as chief executive from Stephen Goodyear, will receive a bonus payment of £40,000 this year outside of the bonus plan for the extra responsibilities he took on when Turner left. It also revealed Goodyear was paid total remuneration, excluding pension costs, of £623,254 in 2015. His remuneration this year, excluding pension costs, stands at £607,646 made up of £321,198 basic salary and fees, £18,947 in benefits and £267,501 in bonus. Dardis’ pay in 2015, excluding pension, was £428,250, which is set to increase this year to £473,978, again excluding pension, made up of £245,040 in basic salary and fees, £2,218 in benefits and £226,720 in bonus, which includes the £40,000 outside the bonus plan. Finance director Peter Whitehead received pay, excluding pension, of £431,050 last year. This is set to fall to £420,052, excluding pension, made up of £234,779 basic salary and fees, £5,907 in benefits and £179,366 in bonus.

Nando’s set to offer breakfast at first high street site: Nando’s is set to offer breakfast at its first high street site after applying to open its new restaurant in Sevenoaks, Kent, from 7am every day. The company has revealed its intention to start serving breakfast in its licence application to the district council for the Bligh’s Meadow outlet, reports the Sevenoaks Chronicle. It currently only serves breakfast at its Gatwick Airport site, with a special morning-only menu available. The application states: “Opening hours have been applied for to provide for possible early morning opening of the restaurant to allow service of breakfasts.” The breakfast menu has been exclusive to Gatwick since February. The menu includes spiced maple pancakes and spiced maple french toast as well as two omelettes – chicken and fresh herb or spinach, tomato and cheese. The chicken theme continues with the Nando’s Benedict, which includes two chicken fillet pieces, two poached eggs and wilted spinach topped with peri hollandaise, served on a Portuguese roll spread with chilli jam and a sprinkle of peri-salt and fresh herbs. Nando’s, which wants to open from 7am until 12.30am every day, is expected to open in Sevenoaks by the end of the summer.

Intertain launches pool concept in Bournemouth: Walkabout operator Intertain has launched a new concept, Felson’s Sports Lounge and Stick Hall, in Bournemouth. The £250,000 warehouse-style venue takes its inspiration from 1950s American eight-ball legend Fast Eddie Felson and the members clubs he used to play in. Felson – who set a world record for potting 22 balls in a single shot – would coolly play for tens of thousands of dollars at a time and it is his spirit that will run throughout the new venue, from its decor to its selection of boutique beers and menu of craft cocktails. The first-floor bar is accessed from street level via a non-descript staircase that belies what is beyond the door; a venue that has been designed to ensure it is not a pool bar in the traditional sense. The space is zoned meaning that – coupled with its menu of cult American classics and exclusive roof terrace – it suits everything from an afternoon drink or coffee with friends to an evening cocktail at the bar or a late-night pool game. The bar will be open from midday to midnight every day, with its table available by the minute. John Leslie, chief executive of Intertain, said: “Felson’s is an entirely new concept for us and taps into the trend for secret speakeasy bars and word-of-mouth hangouts. Felson’s is as much a pool bar as it is a place for a post-work cocktail and we have taken great care to make sure it appeals as much to women as it does to men across our website, marketing materials, décor and menus.”

Loungers co-founder Jake Bishop becomes managing director of Cosy Club brand: Loungers has named director Jake Bishop as managing director of the group’s Cosy Club brand. Bishop, who co-founded Loungers in 2002, will take on the newly created role as the group looks to strengthen the Cosy Club management team ahead of a number of new Cosy Club openings in the next 18 months. Antony Doyle, who is currently the groups’ regional operations manager for the north west and Midlands, will take over the role of Lounge operations director. Doyle has been with Loungers for three years having previously worked as an operations manager for Jamie’s Italian. Both Bishop and Doyle will continue to report into Nick Collins, whose title will become chief executive, and COO Justin Carter. Of the appointments Collins, said: “As the roll-out of both brands continues, these appointments are a major step in evolving a more diverged management structure suitable for 400 Lounges and 100 Cosy Clubs across the UK. Having Jake, one of the founders, head up the Cosy Clubs is a real signal of our intent and aspiration for this fantastic business. Antony’s appointment as Lounge operations director, accompanied by subsequent internal promotions within the Lounge business, is a great demonstration of the strength in depth within the business and progression opportunities we can offer. It’s been a marvellous couple of days at Loungers, with this announcement straight on the back of our legendary annual staff party LoungeFest on Monday and the business is full of positivity.” Loungers has recently opened Centro Lounge in Loughborough and Estero Lounge in Monmouth and will open its 70th Lounge (and 84th site in total) in Lichfield later this month. Lounge openings in Corby and Derby and the groups’ 15th Cosy Club in Ipswich will follow in July/August.

Bitters ‘n’ Twisted reports turnover growth: Birmingham-based multiple operator Bitters ‘n’ Twisted Venues has reported an increase in turnover for the year ending 31 August 2015 of 21% to £6.9m across its eight venues. Overall pre-tax profits increased by 17.7% to £1.15m. Like-for-like sales in the period increased 6.4% to £6.1m, with like-for-like pre-tax profits increasing 18.5% to £1.16m. Matt Scriven, managing director of Bitters ‘n’ Twisted Venues, said: “The 12-month period to August 2015 saw healthy sales and profit growth. Two new venues were opened, a Bodega Cantina in Worcester and Marmalade Bar & Restaurant at The Rep Theatre. Both have got off to a steady start and have provided significant operational learning curves, being out of our traditional comfort zone in terms of location or style of service. Earnings figures for the year were affected by investment in these two sites. Buffalo & Rye restaurant opened in Birmingham city centre in November 2015 and we expect solid earnings from that site during the current financial year. A Bodega Cantina is due to open in Leicester in July 2016, with further sites in the Midlands hopefully to follow. Our focus will be on developing the Bodega Cantina group of venues for the foreseeable future. Our central management team has been developed during the year with additions to the marketing and finance teams so that the group is well placed to develop going forward. As expected, recruitment and retention of good quality hospitality staff has proved to be very challenging in Birmingham over the last 12 months with the ongoing arrival of new competitors into the city meaning it has become a bun fight to get the best staff. The big brands are helping drive significant salary inflation amongst general managers and head chefs particularly, which will only hinder the future development of the independent food and drink scene in Birmingham.”

Jones Bar Group opens third Roxy Ball Room, in Huddersfield: Leeds-based Jones Bar Group has opened the third site of its ping pong and pool concept Roxy Ball Room, this time in Huddersfield. The company, set up by brothers Matthew and Ben Jones, has opened the bar in Zetland Street, creating 30 jobs. The Huddersfield site has four pool tables and four ping pong tables. Launched in 2013, Roxy Ball Room offers gaming as well as cocktails, beer and food, including fresh dough pizza and home-made hamburgers. Matthew Jones said: “Being Yorkshire born and bred we visit Huddersfield regularly on a night out and love how vibrant it is. We believe Roxy Ball Room will fit in perfectly and offer something new to the community.” The company has ten sites, including its two other Roxy Ball Rooms in Leeds and Liverpool.

April Bloomfield and Tom Adams to open guest house and restaurant in Cornwall next month: Michelin-starred chef April Bloomfield will open her new guest house and restaurant in Cornwall, jointly set up with Pitt Cue’s Tony Adams, on Wednesday, 6 July. Bloomfield, who holds Michelin stars at New York restaurants The Spotted Pig and The Breslin Bar & Dining Room, and Adams, who founded Pitt Cue in Devonshire Square, London, have turned a Georgian dairy farm, near Launceston, into a guest house, restaurant and working farm, including curing rooms. The guest house will have six bedrooms, with Adams cooking for up to 12 guests every night, although people will also be able to book for dinner only. Dishes will include whole pit-baked mangalitza ham and creamed kraut; house curds with peas, mint and sorrel; and blackcurrant leaf junket. The venue will also feature a whisky and library room. Adams told Hot Dinners: “It’s going to be simple farmhouse fare, using immaculate ingredients. We’re going to look to produce it all ourselves. We’ve now got 26 Hebridean sheep, the bees arrive next month and then the pigs. We’ll then progress to growing our own stuff.” The venue will also run workshops for guests such as pickling and bread-making.

TLC Inns set to open Grand Central venue in Chelmsford next month, brand’s fifth site: TLC Inns, led by husband-and-wife team Steve and Jo Haslam, is set to open its fifth Grand Central site next month, this time in Chelmsford. The Essex-based operator, which also runs four premium pubs, has spent £750,000 renovating the grade II-listed building opposite the railway station, and will initially rent the property from developers Genesis on a 20-year lease. The 240-cover, 6,500 square foot restaurant in Duke Street will open daily, from 7am until midnight, and create 60 jobs. Steve Haslam told the Essex Chronicle: “We want to create new experiences. We want people to have fun and leave with a smile on their face. We are searching for a house band to play an unamplified midweek slot as well as guest bands at weekends.” TLC Inns’ other Grand Central sites are in Basildon, Ely, Colchester and Ipswich. In March, the company geared up for expansion by appointing four key head office members of staff, including food director Danny Lawrence, formerly of Big Easy, who will design the menu for the Chelmsford site. TLC Inns also announced it is looking to double the size of the Grand Central brand, with a plan to eventually operate up to 60 sites. Steve Haslam said he was already eyeing further sites in Essex, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire.

BrewDog launches pizza offer at four UK bars, two-for-one introductory offer: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has launched a pizza offer at four of its UK bars in June. The pizzas will be on offer at BrewDog bars in Edinburgh, Sheffield, Shepherd’s Bush and at DogTap, the on-site bar at its brewery in Ellon, Aberdeenshire. Pizzas are on offer at two-for-one prices from midday to 5pm, Monday to Friday, but for Equity Punks – those who have invested in BrewDog – the deal will apply at “any time of day or night throughout the entirety of June”, the company said. The pizza options – each costing £9 – are King of Pigs (gyula sausage, leeks, watercress, smashed tomatoes and mozzarella), Grazing Goat (a vegetarian option featuring goat’s cheese, pine nuts, rocket leaves and red onion), The Hero (a vegan option featuring wild mushrooms, courgette ribbons and pine nuts), Spicy Meaty (nduja, pepperoni and chilli flakes), White Trash (vegetarian option with ricotta, stilton, spinach and walnuts), and Hamlet (kassler pork, artichokes, smashed tomatoes and grana padano).

Northcote Leisure Group launches cafe-restaurant in Blackburn’s £34m Cathedral Quarter: Northcote Leisure Group, run by celebrity Michelin-starred chef Nigel Haworth and wine expert Craig Bancroft, have opened a new cafe-restaurant in the £34m Cathedral Quarter in Blackburn. Cafe Northcote At The Cathedral is in the newly named Walsingham Hall, with the opening creating 15 jobs and two apprenticeships thanks to a work placement and training partnership with Blackburn College. The licensed bistro-style venue for 78 diners has initially opened from early morning to late afternoon. It will operate as a restaurant in the evenings during December, over Christmas and New Year, and at other special times. Haworth has created a new menu offering coffee, food-to-go, breakfast, afternoon tea, Sunday lunch, fresh breads, sweet treats, pastas, salads and platters, including Lancashire specialities such as Eccles cake and black pudding. He told the Lancashire Telegraph: “We look forward to new, exciting times expanding the Northcote brand into Blackburn and being part of bringing this incredible Cathedral Quarter development to life.” Haworth and Bancroft also run the Northcote Hotel, a 26-bedroom luxury hotel and Michelin star-winning restaurant in Langho, near Blackburn.

Former Smoking Goat head chef to launch Thai restaurant at Bankside development: Seb Holmes, former head chef at Soho’s Thai barbecue restaurant Smoking Goat, is set to turn his pop-up concept Farang into a permanent restaurant. Farang (“foreigner” in Thai) will be part of a large development at Flat Iron Square in Union Street, Bankside. Holmes’ menu will feature dishes such as tempura squid with curry, ginger and turmeric batter, jungle curry of braised beef with kaffir, pea aubergine, lemongrass and Asian herbs, and mango, coconut and cassia bark rice with palm sugar caramel. Holmes told Hot Dinners: “There will be a small kitchen serving high-quality food to take away or eat in, with a large bar area too. There will be heated Messene seats and lots of benches and cover for diners. We will be making our own curry pastes as usual and have a large range of our own recipes that we’re trying out at pop-ups and markets. If all goes to plan, I will be staying in this site for a minimum of one year and building my brand to allow myself time to decide Farang’s future.”

Chester-based waffle cafe concept set to start expanding with second site, in Preston: Chester-based waffle cafe concept Off the Waffle is set to start expanding by opening its second site in Preston. The company is launching the venue in Friargate in July on the site of a former takeaway, creating ten jobs. It will serve a number of crepes, milkshakes and desserts alongside sweet and savoury waffles. A spokesman for the cafe told Blog Preston: “We are a private business that opened in Chester in February last year. We are in the process of opening our next branch in Preston. We provide a wide range of fresh waffles and crepes, both sweet and savoury. We will also be doing a variety of other desserts.” He added the Chester outlet had proved popular with students at the University of Chester and he hoped for similar success in Preston with the University of Central Lancashire nearby.

Shaun Rankin to open restaurant at Flemings Mayfair hotel in September following £14m refurbishment: Michelin-starred chef Shaun Rankin will open a restaurant at the Flemings Mayfair hotel in September following a £14m refurbishment. Rankin, who will continue to run his Ormer restaurant in Jersey, said the Flemings Mayfair menu would focus on his Jersey heritage, offering a modern British menu. The dining room at the hotel in Half Moon Street will seat 80 diners, with a substantial 40-seat bar, along with a chef’s table and two private dining rooms. New general manager Henrik Muehle is overseeing the refurbishment of the family-owned hotel, part of the SLH (Small Luxury Hotels of the World) consortium, which is also seeing 129 bedrooms, suites and apartments renovated.

Pidgin owners to launch second London restaurant, Magpie, with all dishes served from trollies: James Ramsden and Sam Herlihy, who operate Pidgin restaurant in Hackney, are teaming up with its head chef Elizabeth Allen to open a second restaurant in the capital, with all dishes served from trollies. The team has yet to reveal the location of the new restaurant – Magpie – apart from it will be in “central London” and will open in the summer. The menu will feature about 30 dishes, with diners able to pick what they want from the trollies as they are wheeled around the room – having as much or as little as they want and in whatever order they wish, Hot Dinners reports. Allen’s menu will feature British small plates, including chicken heart popcorn with hot sauce, mussels with miso and beef dripping toast, and duck rillettes with sourdough and nukazuke pickles. Wine and cocktails will also be served from the trolley, featuring pre-mixed cocktails (including Pidgin’s barrel-aged negroni) and a wine list of about ten white and ten red wines available by the glass, carafe or bottle.

Domino’s aims to create 10,000 jobs: Domino’s Pizza Group is to create 10,000 jobs as part of a recruitment drive ahead of Euro 2016 and the Olympic Games. It will also open 65 new stores across the UK and Ireland this year. The bulk of the positions will be in the South East and London, although all areas of the UK are being targeted. David Wild, chief executive at Domino’s, said: “2016 is a bumper year for Domino’s… we have plans to open about 65 new stores and we’ll serve up more than seven million pizzas during the Euros alone. There has never been a better time to join the Domino’s family and we’re now on the hunt for 10,000 ambitious people to join our fun and diverse team.” Eleven of Domino’s latest recruits were welcomed to the business by former England manager Kevin Keegan, who said: “I was fortunate enough to give a lot of great players their first caps as England manager and it’s fantastic to be capping a new group, albeit on a different playing field.” Domino’s is predicting three pizzas will be ordered per second during Euro 2016.

Freedom Brewery to launch first prototype pale ale, available at 35 M&B Castle sites: Staffordshire-based Freedom Brewery is to launch its first prototype pale ale, which will be available in 35 Mitchells & Butlers’ Castle sites. The Freedom Pale Ale will be available from Friday, 1 July, with customers having three months to comment before it is relaunched, based on consumer feedback, in September. As well as the Castle sites, the ale will also be available at 65 independent trade outlets and as a taster box from online retailers, including Freedom’s own website. Customers can share their feedback during the three-month period through a ballot box and comment card system, Freedom’s website, and social media channels using the hashtag #FreedomPrototype. Freedom Brewery head brewer Jonathan Smith said: “With over 20 years of brewing expertise, our aim is to offer a full range of authentic, sustainably brewed beers that our customers will love. Our fanbase, which has been asking us to brew a pale ale for some time, are real beer experts so we have decided to get them involved in the process.”

£20m boutique hotel plan gets go-ahead: Plans to build a £20m boutique hotel in the Ropewalks area of Liverpool city centre have secured the go-ahead. Liverpool City Council’s planning committee has approved a full planning application by Wolstenholme Square Developments, which is owned by developer Elliot Lawless, to create an aparthotel at 42-46 Seel Street. The Falconer Chester Hall-designed application envisages a ground-floor restaurant/bar and self-contained commercial unit as well as a fifth-floor rooftop bar terrace. It is proposed to build a seven-storey aparthotel providing 42 high-quality apartments, which includes 116 rooms because it will give the operator the flexibility to offer both single rooms and serviced suites. Lawless said discussions with an operator were nearing a conclusion.

Peel Hunt – Domino’s Pizza £24m Nordic investment gives access to strong territories: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Ali Naqvi has said Domino’s Pizza has given itself access to strong territories with its £24m investment in the Nordic markets. Issuing an ‘Add’ note on the shares with a target price of 1,027p, Naqvi said: “Domino’s has acquired a 49% interest in Iceland and 45% in both Norway and Sweden. Iceland is the only Ebitda positive territory (£3m in 2015) and Norway is expected to be profitable in half two 2017. There are currently no sites in Sweden. This implies a valuation multiple of more than 16 times 2015. The Iceland business was established in 1993, operates 19 sites and generated £3m of Ebitda in 2015. This is a very strong performance given the population of 300,000. The group only assumes a modest growth in sites and expects to continue driving like-for-like growth going forward. Sales grew 20% over the past year. Norway currently operates ten sites, having been established in 2014, and has opportunity for further roll-out. Norway has an urban population of four million (total population five million). Currently, the territory is expected to be profitable in half two 2017. Sweden has a population of circa ten million and no Domino’s sites at present. The territory also has no pizza brand of scale and presents the greatest roll-out opportunity. The group is able to appoint a director to the board of the business and has options to acquire/sell the remaining shares between 2020 and 2023. Whilst positive transactions, the group has been down this road before. We expect the minority interest and retention of the local management team to keep management’s eye on the ball in the UK. There is also a positive read across for Domino’s Pizza Poland (‘Buy’, target price 35p), underpinning the valuation and attractiveness of territories with significant roll-out potential and management teams capable of delivering it. The group trades on a price-to-earnings ratio of 26 times FY2016, falling to 24 times FY2017.”

The Stable launches new vegan menu: Artisan pizza and cider brand The Stable, which is 51% owned by Fuller’s, has launched a new vegan menu across its 14 sites. For diners who want to choose any vegetarian options on the menu, The Stable said its chefs can make a “simple swap for a vegan-friendly cheese to make it completely animal-free”. Diners can also customise any of The Stable’s hand-made pizzas to suit dietary needs. The move to cater for vegans focuses on The Stable’s use of VioLife dairy-free cheese, while gluten-free pizza bases are also available and made on-site. The menu also features a new range of salads. The Stable site in Bath has been added to a vegan and vegetarian-based “Where to Eat in Bath” website and has held its first vegan-friendly event, with similar events planned at the company’s other sites in Bridport, Bristol, Birmingham, Cheltenham, Cardiff, Falmouth, Fistral, Whitechapel, Weymouth, Winchester, Plymouth, Southampton, and Poole. The Stable was founded by Richard and Nikki Cooper and Richard’s brother Andy in Bridport in 2009.

Molson Coors and Bavaria N.V. unveil partnership: Molson Coors and Dutch brewer Bavaria N.V. have announced a long-term partnership agreement. Molson Coors UK will get the exclusive rights in the on- and off-trade to the sales, distribution and customer marketing of Bavaria and its portfolio of brands in the UK, consisting of the brands Bavaria Premium, Bavaria 0.0%, Hollandia, Holland Import and Claro. For Bavaria, the partnership provides a springboard to grow the distribution of its brands in the UK. Fred Landtmeters, managing director of Molson Coors UK & Ireland, said: “Bavaria and Molson Coors both share a rich heritage and an unwavering commitment to producing excellent beer. The no/low alcohol segment is a growth area of the category and by working together with Bavaria along with the strength of our overall brand portfolio we are in a great position to maximise this opportunity. With industry-leading customer service and supply chain network, Molson Coors is well placed to deliver the shared ambitions for expanding supply of the Bavaria portfolio within the UK.  

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 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. 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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