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Mon 5th Sep 2016 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Deadline for entries into industry-wide training awards extended: The deadline for entries into the National Innovation in Training Awards (NITAs), being held by the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) in partnership with Propel, has been extended until Friday, 23 September. The ceremony for the premier awards night for training achievement in the pub and restaurant sector takes place on Monday, 21 November at Café de Paris in central London. The NITAs recognise those companies and individuals that really care about their employees, helping them to achieve improvements in training and standards. The categories are: licensee trainer of the year; professional independent trainer of the year; training company of the year; best development programme (leased and tenanted companies); best managed company for training (fewer than 30 outlets); and best managed company for training (more than 30 outlets). To enter, candidates go to and select NITAs, register their details, and pick their category or categories. Candidates can enter more than one category for consideration. Each category will have a judging panel consisting of an industry expert, a senior person from the BII and the sponsor to judge who has best showcased knowledge, understanding and enthusiasm for their respective category. Judging visits to those successful in progressing to the finalist stage in each category will occur in October, with the winner announced at the ceremony in November. In addition, The Franca Knowles Lifetime Achievement Award (sponsored by Sky, lead partner for the event), will be chosen by a panel led by Keith Knowles, chief executive and founder of Beds and Bars. This award will identify and recognise an individual working within the on-licensed retail sector who leads by example and demonstrates that training and people are at the core of what they do. This is an industry recognition award rather than a category open for entries, and is in memory of the late Franca Knowles, Keith Knowles’ wife, who herself was a multiple winner of NITA awards and was passionate about people and training.

Industry News:

Propel Multi Club conference in November open for bookings, free places for operators, Fraser Bradshaw of Imbiba to present: The last Propel Multi Club Conference of 2016 is now open for bookings. It takes place on Thursday, 3 November at Congress Hall, London. Fraser Bradshaw, partner at investment fund Imbiba, will talk about how it identifies opportunities in the market place, finds and backs talent, assimilates innovation from around the world, and its current group of investments – Darwin & Wallace, Camm & Hooper, Ruth & Robinson, Wright & Bell, and Casper & Cole. Pub, restaurant and foodservice operators can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele on or calling her on 01444 817691.

Host of companies sign up for Professor Chris Muller’s Multi-site Management Masterclass: A host of companies and brands have signed up for next month's Multi Site Management Masterclass led by Professor Chris Muller. They include Benito’s Hat, Darwin & Wallace, Draft House, Eclectic Bars, Pie & Pint Inns, Hubbox, McMullens, Bone Daddies, Young’s, Le Bistrot Pierre, Castle Rock, Grand Union, Soho Farmhouse, Jamie Oliver’s, PizzaExpress, Beds and Bars, Intertain, Rarebreed Dining, Wright Brothers, Five Guys, Drake & Morgan, Bar Lorca, Anglian Country Inns, Bar Soba, Randall & Aubin, FrogPubs, Bru Brewery, Belgo and Cafe Rouge. The event takes place on Friday, 30 September at One Moorgate Place in London. Leading UK businesses such as Mitchells & Butlers and TGI Friday’s have sent staff to be taught by Professor Muller at Boston University’s School of Hospitality – now Professor Muller is returning to the UK to lead this bespoke day. His interactive seminar will include contributions from Sticks ‘n’ Sushi UK managing director Andreas Karlsson and Eric Partaker, co-founder and brand evangelist at Chilango. The event will provide valuable insights for founders and area managers of small and medium-sized multi-site companies and area managers of large companies. The sessions will include developing multi-unit leaders, leading a team through a strategic growth plan, and a discussion on the importance transition plays in the practice of management and leadership. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) members and £345 plus VAT for non-ALMR members. To book tickets, email Anne Steele at

Restaurant Week delivers extra £500,000 for Newcastle eateries: This summer’s Restaurant Week in Newcastle has been deemed the most successful yet after more than 40,000 diners took advantage of cut-price meals delivering an extra £500,000 revenue for eateries across the city. A record 93 Tyneside restaurants took part in the NE1-organised event, including a number of first-time participants. The event, now in its fifth year, also significantly boosted customer numbers, with some restaurants registering a 180% year-on-year increase in footfall. Modelled after a similar event in New York, the event is masterminded by business improvement group NE1 in conjunction with city centre restaurants and runs twice a year in January and August. Stephen Patterson, director of communications at NE1, told BDaily: “2016 has been a great year for the restaurant industry in Newcastle with a cluster of new venues opening across the city. Newcastle’s restaurant community is one of the city’s largest growth sectors and NE1 is delighted to be able to support it through initiatives like Restaurant Week.”

SRA to launch initiative inviting restaurants to commit to ten best green practices: The Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) is planning a major campaign to promote green best practices across the foodservice sector as it seeks to boost its membership. The SRA provides its star ratings and bespoke sustainability action plans to about 6,000 restaurants across the UK, representing about 3% of the sector. Recently appointed chief executive Andrew Stephen has revealed plans to expand the SRA’s reach through a new campaign designed to encourage more restaurants to commit to making sustainability improvements. Building on its Food Made Good programme, the SRA will launch the “A Good Restaurant Will...” initiative next year, inviting restaurants to pledge commitment to ten best practices. Stephen told BusinessGreen: “Our rating and scoring framework is quite complicated and happens in private and we don’t share members’ scores publicly – the only public version you see is the number of stars. We want to work with more of the sector and help more people get their heads around these issues. The idea next year is to have ten campaigns that are all completions of the sentence ‘A good restaurant will...’.” Planned topics include a good restaurant will... “support the livelihoods of farmers”, “feed children well”, “not waste food”, and “recognise water as a resource”. Stephen said the aim was to provide “quite simple public-facing statements which anyone can sign up to agree with through a pledge”. The pledges will be supported by toolkits, advice, tips, and case studies from SRA members. Stephen added that engaging more restaurants with the campaign would also help boost the number signing up to the SRA’s star-rating system. He said: “The road forward for us is not about becoming more elitist; the road forward is getting to 20% of the market as soon as we can.”

US restaurants continuing to expand despite mixed like-for-like sales: US restaurants are continuing to expand despite mixed like-for-like sales, providing a boost to the industry during a summer of doldrums, according to the National Restaurant Association (NRA). The NRA’s Restaurant Performance Index increased modestly in July, to 100.6 from 100.3 in June, with capital expenditure the biggest reason. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of operators surveyed told the NRA they made a capital expenditure in the past three months, while 65% said they expected to spend in the next six months. That continues the industry’s aggressive trend of remodelling and expansion in recent years. Hudson Riehle, NRA senior vice-president of research, said: “The primary driver of the modest RPI gain in July was positive capital expenditure levels. Capital spending indicates that operators are confident in their future, despite weak sales.” The RPI consists of two components – the Current Situation Index and the Expectations Index, the latter of which tracks operator expectations for the coming six months. The index is based on the association’s monthly survey of operators. The Current Situation Index was 100.4 in July, rising 0.5% from 99.9 in June. But like-for-like sales were mixed – 44% of operators said like-for-like sales increased in July, while 45% said they decreased. But visits fared worse, with only 33% of operators surveyed saying traffic increased in July, while 46% said traffic fell. Expectations remained muted, but that index rose 0.1% in July, to 100.8. Overall, 33% of operators surveyed expected sales to grow in six months, while 21% expected sales to drop. Only 18% expected overall economic conditions to improve, while 28% expected them to worsen.

Licensing bodies to be quizzed about Licensing Act 2003: Licensing bodies will be quizzed on Tuesday (6 September) by The House of Lords Committee as part of its investigation into the Licensing Act 2003. The committee will hear from Institute of Licensing national chairman Daniel Davies; Michael Kheng, from the British Institute of Innkeeping; National Association of Licensing and Enforcement Officers chairman John Miley; and licensing solicitor Marie-Claire Frankie as well as members of the off-trade. The Licensing Act 2003 was evoked to provide greater freedom to the hospitality and leisure industry, as well as giving consumers more choice. The House of Lords Licensing Act 2003 Committee will now investigate the effectiveness of the act. Committee chairwoman Baroness McIntosh of Pickering said: “While many heralded the act as the start of a more continental drinking culture, others predicted round-the-clock consumption, leading to disorder and a deterioration in public health. But what has the reality actually been like? Has deregulation allowed the drinks industry to thrive? Have drinkers embraced a more relaxed and healthier approach to alcohol? What happened to the anticipated cafe culture? For good or ill, the Licensing Act has altered the drinking landscape of England and Wales, but an examination of the changes is long overdue.”

Company News:

YO! Sushi US division produces £834,000 in losses: Turnover from YO! Sushi’s operations outside the UK rose to £1,746,209 in the year to 29 November 2015 company accounts show – turnover was £508,096 in the year prior. UK turnover was £81,997,173, up from £75,304,987 the year before. The company reported that setting up four company-owned restaurants in the US, in Garden State Plaza and Shorthills, New Jersey, International Plaza in Tampa Florida and University Town Centre in Sarasota, Florida, had resulted in £834,000 of losses. US openings in New York and Boston, Massachusetts, are lined up. Previously, Propel reported Ebitda was up 12.7% to £11.342m. The company opened five UK restaurants and exited four that had come to the end of their lease, bringing the total number of restaurants to 73.

Dirty Bones to open third London site, in Shoreditch on Wednesday: US comfort food restaurant Dirty Bones will open its third London site on Wednesday (7 September), this time in Shoreditch. The new venue will be Dirty Bones’ first restaurant to feature an all-day dining menu and is set in a grade II-listed heritage building in Club Row. Decor at the restaurant will embrace the building’s eclectic history, with key pieces of the building such as original dining room artwork, the grand pillared bar, and the painted facade of the restaurant remaining. There is also a range of bespoke retro features such as the lighting, mirrored table tops and the room’s wrap-around velvet seating. The venue will serve a selection of New York-inspired comfort food dishes, cold-pressed juices, hot drinks and cocktails. There will also be an all-new weekday breakfast menu, which includes Dirty Buns (with flavours such as the truffled chilli cheese bun), matcha custard French toast, and bourbon-poached pear and banola. Also exclusive to Dirty Bones Shoreditch will be the new Dirty Roast, available from midday every Sunday. The bar area will host live band and DJ nights playing old-school funk, soul and hip-hop.

KFC offers staff debt-free degree in business management: KFC employees are being given the opportunity to swap the kitchen for the classroom – offering its workers a debt-free degree in business management. Staff members who enrol in the programme will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree after four years of studying online and working with a mentor at each UK restaurant. KFC and the government will each fund the tuition fees, travel expenses and accommodation costs, as the scheme aims to allow students to work and study without ending up crippled by student debt. The initiative launched this summer with ten employees, and plans are in place to grow the number of students to 25 during the next few years. Cody Cluff, head of personnel for KFC in the UK and Ireland, told The Sun: “We are hugely proud of the degree apprenticeship programme. [It] will help nurture the talent we need for the future.” The new course follows a similar scheme introduced by KFC three years ago, when it became the first fast food company in the UK to pay its staff to study for a degree while working full-time. Restaurant managers were able to apply to study for a degree, also in business management, and each branch was given a computer that could be used to complete coursework. Including bonuses, participants were able to earn up to £68,000 a year while studying for the course, which involved spending about two weeks a year at De Montfort University in Leicester.

Wear Inns appoints finance director as acting managing director following death of John Weir: North east and Yorkshire pub operator Wear Inns has appointed finance director Simon Duckworth as acting manager director following the death of John Weir. Weir, a well-known personality in the pub industry, died at home on Sunday, 28 August after suffering a heart attack. Chairman John Sands, who formed Wear Inns with Weir in 2006, said: “John’s death came as a complete shock and he will be very sadly missed. He was a devoted family man and someone who was my friend and colleague for over 30 years. John will be remembered as a great pubs man. He knew how to build effective businesses that give customers exactly what they want.” Weir’s first senior management appointment was with William Stones at Sheffield as sales manager, responsible for 125 pubs. Three years later he became regional operations director – Bass North, and was appointed to William Stones’ operations board. Weir then spent a number of years implementing capital investment programmes as retail director at Bass in the north east and Scotland and was part of the team that developed the Ember Inns brand. In 2004, he was recruited by Sands at Hartlepool-based Pubmaster as managing director (retail acquisitions) and when Punch bought Pubmaster the pair decided to start their own company and Wear Inns was born. The company has 26 pubs – most recently acquiring The Whistlestop near Leeds United’s Elland Road ground. Wear Inns recently made the Investec Mid Market 100 list, which ranks the fastest-growing companies in the UK with a turnover of more than £10m, for the second time. Wear Inns, which has its headquarters in the old offices of the Castle Eden Brewery in County Durham, is the biggest independent freehold managed operator in the region in terms of volume of beer sold and has a workforce of 265. Weir is survived by wife Barbara, sons Scott and Grant, and his five grandchildren.

US burger chain Burgerfi to make UK debut this week with Wembley opening: US burger chain Burgerfi will launch its debut site in the UK this week – in Wembley Shopping Centre in north London. The company has teamed up with sustainability chef Arthur Potts Dawson with plenty of Aberdeen Angus British beef and a big focus on recycling. The burgers will be “cooked to order in a minute”, with all ingredients prepared daily. The brand’s signature offering is the CEO Burger (double Wagyu beef and brisket blend patty with homemade candied bacon and tomato jam, truffle aioli and aged swiss cheese). Other offerings will include the Burgerfi Bacon Cheeseburger; Breakfast Burger; Conflicted Burger; and Vegifi Burger, Hot Dinners reports. Burgerfi London will also offer hotdogs, hand-cut fries with toppings, and onion rings. Desserts will include custard concretes, floats and shakes, as well as craft beer and wine.

Yum to sell stake in China business ahead of spin-off: KFC and Pizza Hut owner Yum Brands has said Chinese investment firm Primavera Capital and an affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding will buy a stake in Yum China for $460m as Yum prepares to spin off the business. Primavera will invest $410m, while Ant Financial, which runs Alibaba’s Alipay mobile payments platform that has been expanding into China’s restaurant industry, will put in $50m. The investors will receive warrants to buy an additional 4% stake in Yum China in two tranches at valuations of $12bn and $15bn, Reuters reports. Yum has signalled part of the money could go towards expanding across China, as the company signalled last October it hoped to nearly triple the amount of its restaurants in China to 20,000. KFC and Pizza Hut brands reaped the rewards of catering to China’s booming economy, with patrons flooding to restaurants offering fast Western food, a higher level of service and perceived food safety. But Yum’s China business has hit roadblocks in recent years, including bird flu outbreaks. Yum, still the largest fast-food chain in China, has also been losing ground to McDonald’s, which moved to separate its China business following pressure last year from one of its largest investors, Corvex Management, the activist hedge fund run by Keith Meister. Meister is on Yum’s board. The spin-off is expected on 31 October, with Yum China to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange a day later, the company said. Primavera founder Fred Hu will become non-executive chairman of Yum China’s board. Goldman Sachs is financial adviser, while Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz is legal adviser to Yum Brands and Yum China. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Fangda Partners are legal advisers to Primavera and Ant.

Five Guys signs deal for restaurants at five Legal & General sites: Better burger brand Five Guys has signed a deal with Legal & General for restaurants across five of its UK leisure sites. Five Guys has agreed a 2,000 square foot unit at Meridian Leisure Park in Leicester and a 3,938 square foot unit in St Nicholas Street, Aberdeen. Both restaurants are due to open in the last quarter of 2016. Five Guys has also opened units at Legal & General’s leisure park Valley Centertainment in Sheffield, Overgate Shopping Centre in Dundee, and Ashton Leisure Park in Ashton-under-Lyne, amounting to a total of about 10,000 square feet of space. All five lettings have been agreed on 15-year leases. Legal & General fund manager Andrew Ferguson told Property Week: “Welcoming Five Guys to a range of our leisure sites demonstrates the strength of our leisure portfolio and the ability of our assets to attract and work closely with leading operators. Three of the new sites are already trading well and have collectively raised the tone of their schemes to great effect. We continue to see demand for a diverse and high-quality food and drink offer throughout the leisure sector.” Five Guys has 46 restaurants in the UK, having opened its first in Covent Garden in 2013.

Nando’s, Las Iguanas, TGI Friday’s, Bella Italia and Wagamama sign up for new Merseyside cinema complex: Nando’s, Las Iguanas, TGI Friday’s, Casual Dining Group-owned Bella Italia and Wagamama have all signed up to open alongside an 11-screen Cineworld cinema at New Mersey Retail Park in Speke. Under the new plans, the cinema and restaurants will be at the front of the site to create a new gateway to the retail park. Planning permission was granted last year, despite planning committee member councillor Richard Kemp describing the design as looking like a “nuclear power station”. Neil Ashcroft, centre manager for the retail park, told the Liverpool Echo: “The plans have all been finalised and work is due to begin on our leisure complex later this year. There will be six restaurants in total, providing more choice to those who want to dine with us.” New Mersey Shopping Park is owned by Speke Unit Trust, which British Land has a large stake in. British Land is also the property advisor for the shopping park. It said last year the development would create up to 600 full and part-time jobs, alongside another 390 construction jobs.

Leon to launch Brighton restaurant this month, fifth site outside London: Natural fast food brand Leon will open its first restaurant in Brighton at the end of this month. The 55-cover restaurant in North Street will open at a site between Pret A Manger and Waterstone’s that was previously occupied by EAT. The 135 square metre site was marketed on a ten-year lease at £95,000 a year under strict confidentiality as EAT staff were unaware of its closure, The Argus reports. Leon, which was founded by John Vincent and Henry Dimbleby in 2004, has 37 restaurants in the UK and one at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, with other sites set to open in Eastcastle, Liverpool Street and London Bridge, all in London. Brighton will only be Leon’s fifth venue outside the capital alongside other restaurants in Birmingham, East Midlands airport, the Eurotunnel terminal at Folkestone and Schiphol.

Handmade Burger Co to open Bath city centre site: Birmingham-based Handmade Burger Co is set to open a restaurant in Bath city centre. A licensing application to Bath and North East Somerset Council has been approved for the site in Upper Borough Walls, formerly occupied by Central Bar. Contractors have already started work on the site and the company said the venue should be ready by Christmas. The restaurant will be open daily from 9am and offer alcohol until midnight. A Handmade Burger Co spokesman told Bath Chronicle: “Our food is hand-made in our restaurants using more than 48 seasonal ingredients and only the freshest produce, which is locally sourced where possible. We go to every length to ensure our high standards are maintained.” In May, one of the founding brothers of Handmade Burger Co, Chris Sargeant, said the company planned to add 15 sites to its 25-strong portfolio during the next three years. Sargeant launched his first restaurant with brother Richard in Birmingham in 2006 and now operates venues across East and West Midlands, Yorkshire, the north east and Scotland, as well as sites in Manchester, London, Reading and Southampton, with sites in the pipeline for Bristol, Bournemouth and Grey’s Quarter in Newcastle.

Burning Night Group delays Bierkeller opening in Nottingham: Burning Night Group has delayed the opening of its Bierkeller site in Nottingham by at least four months. The company is investing £2.1m to convert the former Walkabout site in Friar Lane, creating 100 jobs. The venue was due to open this month. A Burning Night Group spokesman told The Business Desk: “There has been an issue with the sale of the flats above (The Walkabout). It will likely be early next year when we open now.” As with the brand’s other four sites, the new Bierkeller will include three bars in one venue – the Around The World Bar, Shooters Bar and The Bierkeller. In April, operations director Rebecca Moran said: “The complex will be a completely new offering for the city centre and the ultimate destination for all types of social occasions.” Burning Night Group has Bierkellers in Liverpool, Leeds, Cardiff, and Manchester and is due to open a site in Birmingham.

BrewDog to throw shareholders’ bash at new US brewery: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is throwing a party for all those who have invested in the company – at its new brewery in Columbus, Ohio. The party will take place on Saturday, 24 September at the 100,000 square foot facility. All those who have invested in the BrewDog USA fund-raise will receive invitations to the party, as will Equity Punks from further afield. BrewDog’s US crowdfunding campaign raised $1m in the first three days following its launch on startup platform BankRoll in early August. The company aims to raise $50m by selling 1,052,632 shares of stock in BrewDog USA for £47.50 per share – the minimum investment is two shares ($95 each). On its website, the company stated: “We are bringing our ultimate shareholder party to the US – the BrewDog #PunkAGM USA – and all our Equity Punks are invited. If you have just joined the BrewDog ranks as part of our ground-breaking share offer in America, or are an existing member of our 46,000-strong army of craft beer fanatics around the world, our USA AGM is for you. In the future these will just be for our BrewDog USA Equity Punks, but we figured every BrewDog shareholder would probably like to check out our new facility in Columbus Ohio – so you’re all invited! You’ll be able to see behind the scenes as we begin our adventures in America, and meet the team who will bring BrewDog beer to life in the States. James (Watt), Martin (Dickie) and the team will be in Columbus and will reveal plans for the future of BrewDog USA. If you’ve read about our legendary #PunkAGMs that take place in Aberdeen and have ever wanted to attend one on the other side of the world – this is your chance.”

D&D London to reopen Bluebird restaurant this month following £2m refurbishment: D&D London will reopen its Bluebird restaurant in Chelsea on Wednesday, 21 September following a £2m refurbishment. The new interior pays homage to the building’s heritage as the first garage of the Bluebird Motor Company in 1923. The original steel frame of the atrium has been refreshed with bold red paint, while the restaurant’s rich hues and use of mixed materials aims to create an inviting environment. The venue will feature vibrant, custom-made velvet and leather-backed chairs, while ruby red bar stools will adorn the centrally illuminated curved metal bar. The dining room has been completed with heavy drapes. D&D London said new executive head chef Liam Smith-Laing’s menus would feature “simple, fresh and honest dishes inspired by the best of modern European cooking, made using the finest ingredients”.

Chalk Valley Farm & Kitchen expands menu after doubling kitchen space at Southampton site: Chalk Valley Farm & Kitchen has expanded its debut site in London Road, Southampton, doubling the size of its kitchen and front of house and adding a new bar offering cocktails “foraged from the countryside”, and a large selection of independent craft beers, ciders and ales on tap. The installation of state-of-the-art barbecue smokers and dry-ageing display chillers and ovens has also allowed Chalk Valley to enlarge its menu to include pasture-raised burgers, dry-aged steaks, Texas-style barbecue, weekend breakfasts, and Sunday roasts. Chalk Valley Farm & Kitchen is a farm-to-fork, fast-casual dining concept founded in 2014 by William Buckley and Sarah Jane Fairey, of Bossington Estate. All meat comes from British native-breed animals that have been pasture-raised, either at Bossington Estate or from like-minded farmers that farm to the same Pasture Fed Livestock Association standards. Almost all other non-meat ingredients are organic and sourced from regenerative and restorative farms and, where possible, local producers.  

Gourmet pizza company Voodoo Ray’s opens third London site, in Camden Market: Gourmet pizza company Voodoo Ray’s has opened its third London site, this time in Camden Market. The company, which has restaurants in Dalston and Shoreditch, has opened its new site in the market’s North Yard, where it offers New York-style pizza by the slice taken from huge, 22-inch pies. Speciality pizzas include the Giorgio Moroder (goat’s cheese, sunblushed tomatoes, courgette and basil); Rubenesque (salt beef, sauerkraut, emmental and Russian dressing); and The Meat Is On (minced steak, pepperoni, ham and pancetta). The venue also offers cocktails, craft beer and frozen margaritas made using golden reposado tequila, agave syrup and fresh citrus made on-site in slushie machines. On its website, Voodoo Ray’s states: “Our innovative pies combine high-quality ingredients with unique flavour combinations for an exceptional slice. Two of our slices are equivalent to a whole 11-inch pizza! We source the best buffalo and fior di latte mozzarellas and use Italy’s renowned caputo flour in our famous bases. We import San Marzano tomatoes for the all-important Napoli sauce, and feature an ever-changing selection of seasonal toppings you won’t find anywhere else.”

Krispy Kreme makes Norfolk debut with Norwich opening: Krispy Kreme has made its Norfolk debut after opening a site in Norwich. The company has opened the venue at the Intu Chapelfield shopping centre in St Stephens Street. Krispy Kreme chief marketing officer Judith Denby said: “We are extremely excited to be bringing the joy of Krispy Kreme to Norwich.” Krispy Kreme entered the UK market in October 2003 in London and currently operates more than 70 stores across Britain. Alcuin Capital Partners, which has owned Krispy Kreme UK since 2011, is readying the business for a stock market float next month.

Bistrotheque team launches April’s Cafe concept in Sloane Street store: Pablo Flack and David Waddington, founders of modern French restaurant Bistrotheque, have launched new concept April’s Cafe inside the flagship London store of Middle Eastern luxury fashion retailer Boutique 1. April's Café features a menu by Blaine Duffy, head chef at east London’s Bistrotheque, with breakfast dishes including polenta bread with maple butter, granola, strained yogurt and London honey, Hot Dinners reports. The lunch menu features caramelised tomato tart and burrata; pink beef with heritage tomatoes and wild garlic; and panna cotta with poached apricots and toasted almonds. The venue in Sloane Street also offers wine, champagne, cocktails, cold-pressed juices, Allpress Coffee and Rare Tea Company infusions, as well as snacks and afternoon tea. April’s Cafe at Boutique 1 is open from 10am to 7pm, Monday to Saturday, and midday to 6pm on Sundays. Boutique 1 Group opened its first site in 2000 and has grown to 20 stores in four cities. Its other multi-brand luxury Boutique 1 stores are in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Beirut.

Former Harris + Hoole employee opens ‘sustainable’ artisan coffee shop concept in Amersham: A new “sustainable” artisan coffee shop concept has launched in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. Peter Wells, who has previously worked for Harris + Hoole, has launched Jacs in Hill Avenue after agreeing a deal with the property’s landlord, Sorbon Estates. Jacs takes an environmentally friendly approach to food and drink, setting up a filtered water point rather than selling water bottles to reduce the amount of plastic being disposed of in landfill. Instead, customers are encouraged to make a donation to help fund clean drinking water in Africa. The interior of the shop also reflects its sustainable roots, with upcycled furniture and reclaimed wood. Wells told Get Bucks he hopes the concept will bring a “little bit of Shoreditch” to Amersham.

Former Threlfalls Brewery building in Liverpool earmarked to become aparthotel: An office building in Liverpool formerly occupied by Threlfalls Brewery has been earmarked to become an aparthotel with a Jacuzzi in every room. Alexander Ware has applied to Liverpool City Council to change the use of Trueman Court in Trueman Street. The building was formerly part of the administrative offices of Threlfalls Brewery. The three-storey building would be extended under the plans, although the external appearance of the property would be retained. A planning design and access statement by Alexander Ware said: “This scheme will provide high-quality hotel rooms right within the city centre. As the city continues to attract more visitors, it is vital that the necessary demand for accommodation is provided. The area is a hot spot for commercial and leisure facilities ensuring all tourist attractions are easily accessible. The scheme will look to make use of the existing building with a newly built extension.”

Full speaker schedule for Bar and Nightclub Conference revealed: The full speaker schedule for this year’s Bar and Nightclub Conference, organised by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and Propel, has been revealed. It takes place on Tuesday, 11 October at Bafta, Piccadilly, and follows the successful launch of the event last year. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls will provide an update on political and regulatory developments. Phil Tate, chief executive of CGA Strategy, which has retailer specialist CGA Peach as a division, will reveal details of new research of usage, areas of growth, food and drink trends, and evolution within the UK bar and nightclub market. Toby Smith, chief executive of bar, nightclub and restaurant operator Novus Leisure, will talk about how the company is meeting the needs of customers in London’s evolving bar and nightclub scene, including offer evolution and social media developments. Luke Johnson, sector investor and executive chairman of Brighton Pier Company and investor in Grand Union Group, will speak about his career in the late-night sector starting at Oxford University, set out his reasons for investing in the sector, evolving the offer at the company, and his perspective on the future for the bar and nightclub sector. Serial sector entrepreneur Roy Ellis will talk about the launch of the ground-breaking Albert’s Schloss concept in Manchester a year ago, its USPs, versatility, first-year performance and roll-out potential – and set out the scope of the involvement of his Mission Mars business in Manchester’s late-night scene. Jimmy Bernstein will talk about his 14-strong US bar and live music concept Howl at the Moon. Bernstein was the keynote speaker at this year’s Bar and Nightclub Convention in Las Vegas. Howl at the Moon has sites in key US cities, including Chicago, New York and Orlando, Florida – the company has also licensed the concept to Norwegian Cruise Line, which operates it on four ships. John Leslie, chief executive of Intertain, will talk about evolving the Walkabout brand and opening new sites, working with new comedy partner Comedy Loft, the regulatory regime, its new Birmingham concept 6 on Broad Street, and the company’s relationship with backer Better Capital. Leading licensing barrister Philip Kolvin QC will provide a personal perspective on the key legal issues and developments facing bar and nightclub operators in the current climate. There will also be a panel hosted by Nicholls with Alan Miller, chairman of the Night Time Industries Association, Mick McDonnell, national co-ordinator of Best Bar None, Paddy Whur, of Woods Whur, Peter Marks, chief executive of Deltic Group, and Richard Stringer, chief executive of Kornicis, about the challenges, opportunities and threats to the bar and nightclub sector. Tickets are priced at £95 for operators who are ALMR members and £145 for non-ALMR members. Supplier tickets are £145 for ALMR supplier members and £195 for suppliers who are not ALMR members. Tickets can be booked by emailing Jo Charity at

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