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Tue 6th Sep 2016 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Welcome Break reports record sales at 14 of its 24 sites over August bank holiday: Independent motorway service operator Welcome Break has reported it broke sales records at 14 of its 24 sites over the August bank holiday. The company said the sales boost was buoyed by the good weather and the early signs of a new boom in “staycations”. Chief executive Rod McKie told This is Money: “The traffic was phenomenal, we saw some huge numbers. Overall, this summer has been pretty steady and I think next year will be stronger. This year most people had already made their commitments to go abroad, but next year we’ll see the real benefit.” McKie believes the company is in for some good times, in contrast to just a few years ago when it was teetering on the brink of insolvency. He said: “The old model was to charge as high prices as possible, give people the worst service possible and then expect them to come back, and that just doesn’t work. Instead, we’ve been modernising, giving customers what they want, when they want it, charging fair prices for a fair product. Footfall has gone up over the past six years from 80 million to 85 million now and like-for-like sales are up 5%, so we know it works.” Most customers are in and out in 20 minutes – 92% use the toilets – and while 25% of visitors don’t spend anything, this is down from 35% a few years ago. Innovations such as the Starbucks drive-thru mean people can buy without having to stop but some developments used by Welcome Break’s rivals get short shrift, such as having a pub on site. McKie said: “It is not for us – we don’t think it’s appropriate, it doesn’t work.” Of expansion, he added: “Despite the fact I love them, we are a blot on the landscape for many people. But we employ a lot of people – we’re like a town here. We could expand in France, for example, if we wanted to, but for our current owners (a consortium of largely Dutch banks) it’s not on their agenda.”

Industry News:

Propel launches new website: Propel has launched its new website – As well as an overview of the latest news from our newsletter mailouts, the site also provides information on forthcoming events and study tours, including the opportunity to book places. It also features links to all Propel Quarterly magazines, details of the Propel premium service, and sections on advertising and the team behind Propel. Managing director Paul Charity said: “We are delighted to launch our new website, which we think our readers will find invaluable. The site is an essential tool as Propel continues to grow.” To access the site, click here.

Propel Multi Club Conference in November open for bookings, free places for operators, Ed Brown and Griff Holland 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. Ed Brown and Griff Holland, co-founders of healthy eating brand Friska, will outline the company’s approach to ethically sourced healthy food, service, their journey as a company from its south west base, and perspective on the healthy eating market. 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

Cleethorpes Pier put up for sale: Cleethorpes Pier, which is operated as a tearoom, restaurant and private hire venue, has been put up for sale for an undisclosed amount. The historic building reopened last summer following a £4.7m refurbishment and offers are being invited through joint agents CBRE and Clark Weightman. The Huxford family, which has owned the pier for the past ten months, said it believes it has taken the business as far as it is capable because of a lack of experience in the food and drink industry. Bryan Huxford said: “I understand there will be some who see this decision to sell as yet another failure for The Pier, but they couldn’t be more wrong. I have achieved what I set out to do in bringing this beautiful building back to life and giving local residents something to be proud of. However, as a successful businessman I know you should play to your strengths. Unfortunately, I am not at the right time in life to start to learn a new industry but, despite that and my lack of experience in the food and drink sector, we have already shown what a success The Pier, Cleethorpes can be. So, in the right hands, I am confident this business will continue to flourish.”

Social platform that helps nightclubs and bars fill their venues launches £150,000 crowdfunding campaign: Licklist, a social platform that helps nightclubs and bars fill their venue, has launched a £150,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Seedrs to expand its operation. The company, co-founded by Brad Nobbs and Ian Hope, is offering a 10.71% equity stake in return for the investment. The pitch stated: “Licklist is a pioneering social platform integrated with an international directory of nightclubs, bars and music festivals. We solve a two-fold problem. For 18 to 30-year-olds we provide a 360-degree solution to organising the perfect night out. For nightclubs and bars we provide innovative tools to fill a venue both cost effectively and efficiently. We are heavily focused on utilising and capturing purposeful data from our users in a unique way. This enables us and the venue to understand the market place and produce targeted marketing campaigns. We’ve built the product and validated our business model. Now it’s all about scaling. With the funding in place we will assemble a sales team spearheaded by former TimeOut chief commercial officer Kimberley O’Hara. The funds will allow us to build a sales operation that introduces venues not only in the UK but in Europe to the Licklist solution. We align ourselves with the likes of TripAdvisor, which dominates the market for hotel reviews, and Just Eat, which does the same for takeaway restaurants. We’re looking to do the same and dominate the market for nightlife and establish Licklist as the only brand people want to be associated with. Our user acquisition strategy will coincide with our sales efforts to exponentially increase our current user base. This will mainly be achieved through the use of our nightlife photography agency as well as other organic methods.”

BBPA calls for period of stability in Licensing Act 2003 submission: The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has called for greater stability in the licensing system in its submission to a House of Lords select committee inquiry on the Licensing Act 2003. The three key proposals from the BBPA are a moratorium on further legislative change during the current parliament, improved enforcement, and greater support for partnership working. Chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “Pubs sustain more than 800,000 jobs, and the sector is constantly adapting to changing consumer tastes, and playing a vital role in local communities and in the high street. Yet the sector is very heavily regulated, adding greatly to the cost of doing business. The act has been very far from the free-for-all, 24-hour drinking that we often read about. In reality we have seen a declining number of pubs and a greater need to tackle the high cost of tax and regulation to keep pubs thriving. We now need a period of stability in the licensing regime, and a focus on reducing the cost and burden of enforcement.”

Finalists revealed for ALMR Operations Managers Awards: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has revealed the finalists for the 2016 Operations Managers Awards, the annual search for the best in the licensed hospitality sector. The finalists for Area Manager of the Year representing managed pubs are Oliver Sweetman and Neil Mckie, Stonegate Pub Company; John Creighton, Intertain; Jenna Edwards, Novus Leisure; Gareth Roberts, SA Brain & Co; and Shane O’Gorman, Mitchells & Butlers. The finalists for Business Development Manager of the Year representing leased or tenanted pubs are Alex Smith and Richard Grady, Star Pubs & Bars; Alix Horne, Barrie Aspinall and Richard Eden, Punch; Brandon Critchell and Helen Davis, Marston’s; Chris Tremain, Isabelle Whitehouse, Jay Weir, Matt Obrey and Shaun Beedles of Enterprise Inns; Nathan Derby, Charles Wells; and Nick Lawson and Paul Wishart, Greene King Pub Partners. Nick Bish, founder of the awards, said: “We have always believed that operations managers are the linchpin of modern and thriving licensed hospitality, and the operations awards programme recognises, celebrates and develops the best individuals in the sector. The fact that the judges have decided on 21 finalists, rather than the usual 20, underscores the very high standard of competition and the exceptional work being carried out in our sector.” The finalists will all be closely assessed in the field by a mentor judge before a rigorous three-day masterclass led by Chris Nichols and featuring inspiring sessions from leading businessmen including Stephen Gould, Simon French and Roger Whiteside. After a final interview before a mentor judge and eight leading operators from the sector, the winners will be announced at a standalone event at the Hilton Kensington on Monday, 7 November.

Company News:

Simon French – ‘there’s value to be unlocked in Marston’s through disposing of leased pubs for circa £250m’: Cenkos Securities leisure analyst Simon French has said there is value to be unlocked in Marston’s through disposing of leased pubs for circa £250m. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of 150p, French said: “We initiate coverage of Marston’s with a note entitled ‘Hidden Value’. Marston’s offers mid single-digit compound annual growth rate in earnings to FY2018E supported by a progressive 4.9% dividend yield. While often overlooked relative to its larger peers, it benefits from many of the same industry dynamics but has broader geographic diversity than most and benefits from vertical integration. The stock trades on a CY2017E adjusted EV/Ebitdar of 9.1 times, broadly in line with peer group but with defensive growth characteristics and a business model that provides resilience through the ability to rotate capital amongst four divisions. We see value to be unlocked through disposing of leased pubs for circa £250m. Our sum-of-the-parts analysis suggests upside to at least 185p per share (23%-plus), ‘Buy’.”

Yorkshire Meatball Co closes Harrogate restaurant for month due to staff shortages to concentrate on retail launch: Yorkshire Meatball Co, which raised £130,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube earlier this year, has closed its Harrogate restaurant for a month because of staff shortages while it concentrates on its expansion into retail. The company, founded by father-and-son team David and Gareth Atkinson, said the extent of its staff losses following the influx of chain restaurants into the North Yorkshire town had left it with “no choice”. It will sell its meatballs stocked in Asda and Tesco supermarkets in Yorkshire over the next two months while a nationwide launch into Morrisons is planned for mid-October. The company stated: “Whilst we always welcome healthy competition, the recent openings have brought with them an unprecedented demand for hospitality staff, particularly skilled chefs, at a time when there is already a known national shortage within the industry. This presents an incredibly challenging recruitment environment for small independents like us and, unfortunately, as a result we’ve had to say a sad goodbye to a number of our key staff in a relatively short period. Such has been the extent of our staff losses and the difficulty of re-recruiting in a recruitment environment dominated by newly opening chains that, to keep the restaurant open and functioning fully over the coming month, we would both be committed to working all-day shifts in the restaurant, four to five days a week. With the retail launch imminent, we’re sure you will understand us having come to the decision that such a situation would have an unacceptably detrimental effect on our expansion into retail. Therefore, we have decided to temporarily close the doors on our Harrogate restaurant throughout September to revitalise, recruit and retrain our front of house and kitchen team, ahead of reopening in October.”

The Breakfast Group opens Burlock rum bar in Marylebone: The Breakfast Group, headed by founder Eric Yu, has opened a specialist rum bar – Burlock – in Marylebone. The new venue in Duke Street, off Oxford Street, takes inspiration from Havana, Cuba, in the 1920s to 1940s and offers more than 200 rums from around the world, alongside other Latin spirits. Burlock’s name is taken from the twine and hemp packaging rum-runners used during the prohibition era. The Breakfast Group changed the venue’s name following complaints at the original choice – Plantation. The bar also offers signature cocktails and specialises in daiquiris made with sugar hand-pressed on site. Bar snacks and small plates complement each cocktail, including Brazilian cheese buns, sea bass ceviche, molasses-glazed pork ribs and empanadas. The “cavernous” bar features a “grand house” veranda at its heart, providing a bookable area for up to 40 guests, Bar reports. A Havana-style barber’s shop will double up as the “Sipping Salon” and will host spirit tastings and masterclasses.

Lane7 eyes expansion with Aberdeen bowling alley, restaurant and bar bid: Newcastle boutique bowling alley Lane7, owned by entrepreneur Tim Wilks, is eyeing expansion after submitting plans for a bowling alley, restaurant and bar on the site of a former nightclub in Aberdeen city centre. Tiger Tiger nightclub in Shiprow has lain empty for years and Jonathan Smith, treasurer and planning officer of the Castlehill and Pittodrie Community Council, said the Lane7 venue would be a welcome addition to the area. He told the Evening Express: “I think we’ve seen quite a change in trends for how people spend their free time and, over the years, the assumption has been there’s only demand for pubs and nightclubs, but in reality there is a real need for different kinds of activities – and I think this place could fill that role.” Earlier this year, Lane7 introduced large-scale car racing games at its St James’ Boulevard site in Newcastle, with plans to roll-out the concept to other UK cities. “The Racing Rig” is a ten-player indoor racetrack in which customers use real steering wheels and pedals. The venue also offers pool, ping pong, beer pong, and karaoke booths.

New central reservations team sees Coaching Inn Group report double-digit growth: Six months on from establishing a new central reservations team, Coaching Inn Group is reporting a double-digit increase in accommodation sales across the rapidly expanding group. The group, which saw turnover top £13m in the last financial year, including a 60% rise in operating profit, appointed the new team, led by revenue and marketing manager Isobel Diggins, to drive accommodation sales and help maintain brand standards through regular audits of the accommodation offering. In the first six months alone, the group has seen an average 10% increase in accommodation sales, with 14% increases in July and 22% in August on a like-for-like basis. Coaching Inn Group finance director Edward Walsh said: “Last year saw us deliver £4m in accommodation revenue and, with a strong pipeline of acquisitions planned before the end of the financial year, we are moving ever closer to our initial target of 500 bedrooms across the Group. Recognising the need to continue delivering a first-class service across the whole group, we appointed Izzy and her team to help maintain standards and drive sales. We have been delighted with the performance of the team so far, with accommodation sales increasing faster than our initial expectations as well as receiving excellent guest feedback due to the improved professionalism of the customer journey, which we view as equally important.”

Gourmet Burger Kitchen acquires third West End site: Acting on behalf of Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK), agent Shelley Sandzer has acquired a 3,500 square foot restaurant on Berners Street, its third site in London’s West End. The 100-cover gourmet burger restaurant is being completely refurbished by an in- house team and is due to open in late 2016. GBK’s new prime location will be close to the planned Crossrail station, opening in 2017. Casey Phillips, partner at Shelley Sandzer, said: “Fitzrovia has seen some significant change of late. It started with the former Middlesex Hospital Development and a substantial new mixed-use development, The Copyright Building, at the northern end of Berners Street, by Derwent, another client of ours. As well as Crossrail, the area is undergoing major redevelopment such as The Plaza Shopping centre and Royal Mail Sorting Office. GBK is a great addition to the dining line-up in the area.” GBK chief operating officer Keith Bird added: “We wanted to expand within the capital and Shelley Sandzer helped us find a great space in central London. With the success of local redevelopments such as The Berners Tavern, combined with the substantial footfall from Oxford Street and nearby Soho, the dynamics of the location made it the perfect choice for us as a brand.”

London-based diner and cafe VQ opens first non 24-hour site, third venue in total: VQ, the London-based 24-hour cafe and diner, has opened its first non 24-hour site, and third in total, in Notting Hill. The 60-cover venue in Pembridge Road is open from 7am on weekdays and 8am at weekends. It closes at 3am, Thursday to Saturday, 1am from Monday to Wednesday, and midnight on Sundays. The restaurant features wood panelling and leather banquettes and booths. A feature light wall enhances the ambience of the space, placing an emphasis on the movement of light and changing colour spectrum throughout the day. The menu includes burgers, all-day breakfast, salads, pasta, small plates and old favourites such as fish and chips. VQ has been serving customers round the clock for 20 years in Chelsea and more recently in Great Russell Street. The company said it had more than 26,000 diners every month across the two sites and was seeing like-for-like sales growth.

Compass Group opens second Chop House in Edinburgh: Compass Group has opened the second site for its Chop House restaurant concept in Edinburgh. The concept, which launched in Leith last year, has opened at New Waverley Arches – the city’s £150m development in the Old Town. The 60-cover restaurant’s focus remains on its tried and tested theme of steak and cocktails. The space is bigger than the original in Leith as it is housed over two floors in the C-listed brickwork arch, which dates to 1875. It also features a bar offering cocktails and craft beer. Chop House buys British beef that is butchered in-house and dry-aged for up to 90 days before being cooked on an open-flame charcoal grill with chateaubriand, bone-in rib and porterhouse steak all available for sharing. The menu also features seafood such as oysters, scallops and prawns as well as a variety of sides. Chop House managing director Mark Fraser told Feast Magazine: “Being part of such a prestigious development is hugely exciting for our new restaurant. The location is second to none and we are confident The Arches will establish themselves as a key destination within the city centre. We are really excited about the interior of the building as we are creating a special environment that makes the most of its unique location.” 

Marston’s premium division Revere to open third and largest Lost & Found site: Marston’s premium division Revere Pub Company is set to open the third site under its Lost & Found brand, this time in Knutsford, Cheshire. The company is opening the venue in Princess Street on Thursday, 29 September following on from its sites in Birmingham and Leeds. The grade II-listed former town hall created by Natural History Museum designer Alfred Waterhouse will house the two-tiered, 215-cover bar and restaurant. It will be the largest Lost & Found site yet, covering 4,133 square feet, including an 88-cover terrace for al fresco dining. The interior will be reminiscent of a Victorian botanical hideaway, with detailed lepidopteran wallpapers, vintage pendant lights, and hanging floral arrangements. Preserved original features will include gothic doors, arches and dark wooden floorboards. Lost & Found elements will also be seen throughout, such as lock-and-key motifs and a “secret bar”. The venue will also offer a 14-cover private dining room. The Lost & Found drinks list will incorporate a range of “Found” and “Lost” cocktails, reviving and re-interpreting forgotten classics from the past. Artisan and craft beers will also be available. The menu will comprise seasonal British fare, featuring a selection of sourdough pizzas with varied toppings, Sunday roasts and Josper oven-cooked steaks. Revere managing director Colin Sadler said: “This building is at the heart of the Knutsford community and we look forward to creating a beautiful space where old and new friends can enjoy great food and drink.”

Grind opens new headquarters in Shoreditch featuring roastery and training lab: London-based Grind, the independent coffee and cocktail bar, has opened a new headquarters featuring a roastery and training lab in the heart of Shoreditch. The company, founded five years ago by David Abrahamovitch and Kaz James, raised £1.3m last year on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube for the project. Now it has opened the roastery alongside a barista training lab and space for the growing Grind team in a converted warehouse that was originally built for coffee storage in 1895. Grind’s new headquarters are a few minutes walk from its original location on Old Street Roundabout. Coffee is roasted at the new site before being packed and transported to the company’s six venues. The company works with a team of importers aimed at guaranteeing fair pay to farmers, as well as investing in projects to improve the communities they rely on. Coffee is also delivered to Grind’s growing base of wholesale partners.

Creams, Real China and Tinseltown sign up for £9m Essex shopping centre extension: Four restaurants have signed up for units at the new £9m leisure extension at The Harvey Shopping Centre in Harlow, Essex, which is due to open in December. New lettings include 4,000 square foot sites for US-style diner Tinseltown, which operates ten sites, buffet restaurant chain The Real China, which operates more than 20 sites, and 36-siter dessert cafe operator Creams Cafe, as well as a 2,500 square foot letting to independent coffee shop Papa Cappuccino. The new scheme, named The Terrace, has been under construction for the past two years and will include a six-screen Cineworld Cinema. Alex Wagstaff, partner at Addington Capital, which is asset managing and redeveloping the centre, told Property Week: “We have experienced a great level of interest and demand from restaurants and other complementary leisure users that have bought into our vision to transform the night-time economy of the town. We now only have two other catering units available to let in this scheme.” The scheme’s agents are Brasier Freeth, Fleurets and GCW.

Ampersand signs five-year catering contract with BMA: CH&Co Group-owned caterer Ampersand has agreed a five-year deal with the British Medical Association (BMA) to provide a range of services at BMA House, its conference and events venue and headquarters in Tavistock Square, London. The agreement will see Ampersand provide catering services to 29 individual event spaces within BMA House. In addition, Ampersand will provide catering for the newly refurbished 1832 Café and Restaurant – named after the year the BMA was founded. Ampersand’s Indian culinary concept DAWAT will also see BMA House offer this catering proposition to the Asian market for the first time, and as an interactive buffet choice for conferences. Ampersand managing director Paul Jackson said: “BMA House is one of the best venues in London and we’re delighted to have been chosen to work with them as their catering partner. Our distinct approach, proven expertise and professionalism in venue and event catering will complement and enhance the food and service offer at BMA House. We have created exciting and innovative menus for the restaurant and cafe facilities and for its bespoke conferences and events.” Sarah Bright, head of events at BMA House, added: “We carefully considered our options and were particularly impressed by Ampersand’s versatile approach. We believe Ampersand’s strong connections with healthy eating, led by award-winning nutritionist Amanda Ursell, provide the perfect fit with the BMA’s vision for a healthy nation.”

Black Country Ales to open 32nd pub, in Stafford: Black Country Ales, the 12-year-old brewery based in Lower Gornall, Dudley, has exchanged contracts to take over the Shrewsbury Arms in Stafford, the company’s 32nd pub. The two-storey venue at the junction of Eastgate Street and Tipping Street dates to the 18th century and will now undergo a refurbishment with a reopening due before Christmas. The 3,150 square foot, grade II-listed pub had been on the market for £135,000 and was due to be sold at auction. Black Country Ales director Angus McMeeking told the Express & Star: “We decided to buy the pub before it went to auction. Stafford is an area we have been keen to move into. It is a busy bustling town and there is a growing real ale contingent in the county town.”

Domino’s Pizza launches first dine-in restaurant in Kent with Maidstone opening: Domino’s Pizza has opened its first dine-in restaurant in Kent, in Maidstone. The company has converted a former Spa store at Boughton Parade in Loose Road into the new venue. Alongside more traditional collection counters and waiting areas, it also features a 60-cover restaurant, reports Kent Online. Domino’s launched its restaurant venture in 2013 but only a handful have opened in the UK. In July, the company lodged plans to open a 40-seater dine-in restaurant in Hull.

Franco Manca launches pizza fund-raise for Italian earthquake fund: Pizza brand Franco Manca, which is owned by Fulham Shore, has launched a fund-raising campaign in aid of the Italian earthquake appeal. For every pizza sold at a Franco Manca restaurant, £1 will be donated to the British Red Cross to help its work with those affected by the recent earthquake in central Italy. The company’s directors will match each donation, ensuring £2 from each pizza sale goes directly to the appeal. Restaurant staff will also donate all their tips during the campaign, while a fundraising page has been set up. To access it, click here. Franco Manca operates 26 restaurants in the UK across London and the south east. Oakman Inns and Restaurants and Carluccio’s have also launched fund-raising initiatives for victims of the Italian earthquake.

Australian fitness franchise eyes 50 UK sites with Savills appointment: Australian fitness franchise F45 Training has instructed agent Savills to secure at least 50 new sites in the UK during the next 12 months following the success of its first venue at London Bridge. The operator was established in Bondi in 2013 and has since opened more than 500 venues across the Asia Pacific region, the Middle East, North America and Europe. It is now seeking single level units of between 1,650 square foot (153 square metres) and 3,300 square foot in high footfall locations close to retail and residential areas as well as transport hubs in Greater London and large UK cities. Social fitness is at the heart of F45’s ethos, with a 50,000-strong community of members taking part in team-based fitness experiences. The workouts are continually evolving, meaning members never repeat the same class twice. Technology is also a key element of the firm’s business model, with a patented platform used by all franchisees and a focus on digital engagement with existing and prospective customers. Luke Armstrong, global franchise director at F45, said: “Given the rapid growth we’ve experienced around the world, we expect the franchise to perform exceptionally well in the UK too. The opportunity F45 offers franchisees is also extremely enticing, with a low-cost operating model that uses process-driven systems and extensive in-house technology to scale the business efficiently and profitably. It also offers franchisees an opportunity to improve the lives of their members, enjoy an enviable work-life balance and earn significant income regardless of industry experience.” David Bell, head of UK leisure at Savills, added: “F45’s global growth over the past three years has been incredible and we are extremely pleased to support its ambitious expansion into the UK, which to date has been an almost untapped market for the operator.”

Molson Coors launches Carling Beer Button: Molson Coors has launched the world’s first beer button that allows consumers to order its Carling brand directly online from the UK’s top five retailers without having to search. Molson Coors research has revealed shoppers are only able to see ten products per page when grocery shopping online, while one-third of consumers don’t click beyond the first page. The Carling Beer Button is the first “e-commerce button” to be directly integrated with the UK’s top five online grocery retailers. The button syncs with the Beer Button App on a smartphone, allowing shoppers to add beer directly to their online shopping accounts, with no need to search. The product follows a year-long collaboration with digital agency Hi Mum! Said Dad. Molson Coors customer marketing director Alpesh Mistry said: “The Carling Beer Button is not a gimmick but is already up and running as a fully functional product.”

Ohio becomes first US state to have more than 500 investors support BrewDog’s $50m US crowdfunding campaign: Ohio has become the first US state to have more than 500 people invest in Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog’s $50m crowdfunding campaign. The state will be home to the company’s US brewery, which is being built on a 42-acre site in Columbus. Five other states – California, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas – have between 50 and 499 investors. The Equity for Punks USA campaign raised $1m in its first three days, with the company aiming to raise $50m on startup platform BankRoll by selling 1,052,632 shares of stock in BrewDog USA for £47.50 per share – the minimum investment is two shares ($95 each). BrewDog’s 100,000 square foot brewery is nearing completion in Columbus, with the first brew scheduled for November. The facility will also feature a restaurant, taproom, retail space, visitors’ centre and beer garden. Long-term, the company said the site could support an annual capacity “in excess of 1.5m barrels”. 

Star Pubs & Bars launches professional menu development programme: Star Pubs & Bars is launching a programme of professional menu development tools and initiatives to help grow food sales at the company. It said the complexities of menu development had been underestimated by the vast majority of the leased trade, and many pubs could benefit from adopting more sophisticated techniques. At the centre of the new programme is a menu development workbook and training guide, tailored to the unique challenges of pubs – the first of its kind in the industry. There is also additional training for new licensees, one-day masterclasses for existing Star operators, and an investment of £20,000 in free menu production for 100 pubs. Star is also upskilling its business development managers with a two-day practical course. Programme content includes understanding demographic reports and competitor analysis; selecting suppliers and products; costing, writing and producing menus; and new menu training and marketing. Star Pubs & Bars managing director Lawson Mountstevens said: “With 30% of sales on average coming from food in Star pubs, professional menu development can generate significant extra footfall, sales and profits, and boost sales of beer, cider and wine too.”

BLOC Hotels gets go-ahead for second Birmingham site: Birmingham-based hotel group BLOC has been given the go-ahead for its second site in the city. The company has been granted permission by the city council to demolish Gallan House, a 1960s office block in Hill Street, to make way for a 25-storey tower with 238 bedrooms. The ground floor of the hotel, which will be known as BLOC Grand Central, will comprise a cafe/restaurant and there will be an open-air roof terrace for guests. BLOC Hotels managing director Rob Morgan told The Business Desk: “This is a defining movement in the company’s ambitious growth strategy. Our first hotel was in Birmingham and we want to continue to invest in the city that the brand was born in.” BLOC Hotels launched its first venue in the Jewellery Quarter in 2011 and also has a site at Gatwick airport in West Sussex.

Bread Meats Bread to open third site this month, second in Glasgow: Glasgow-based burger restaurant concept Bread Meats Bread is to open its third site – and second in the city – later this month. The company, which was founded in 2012, will open its latest venue in Great Western Road in the West End, Glasgow Live reports. The company posted a picture on its Facebook page of branded boards outside the new restaurant site, with the caption: “Things are shaping up nicely behind these panels... not long to go until we bring Bread Meats Bread to the West End!” Bread Meats Bread has restaurants in St Vincent Street in Glasgow city centre and Lothian Road in Edinburgh. Earlier this year, the company won the best burger in Scotland accolade at the Scottish Entertainment & Hospitality Awards and is renowned for its speciality poutine fries and mammoth cheeseburger.

Zenith Hygiene Group completes acquisition of Cater-Lyne to enhance offering to foodservice sector: Zenith Hygiene Group, the supplier of cleaning and hygiene products to the foodservice sector, has completed the acquisition of Cater-Lyne, a manufacturer and supplier of catering hygiene and cleaning products, for an undisclosed sum. Cater-Lyne, a family-run business founded by chief executive Ted Collings and based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, supplies a wide range of customers across the UK within the foodservice sector. As part of the acquisition, Cater-Lyne has been rebranded Zenith Hygiene, and its exclusive chemical formulations have been incorporated into Zenith’s product range. The specialist formulated products for combination oven manufacturers will continue to be produced under their existing branding. Zenith said Ted Collings and managing director James Hannaway would both be closely involved within the expanded group, focusing primarily on continuing to deliver an exceptional level of customer service and support.

Yummy Pub Company signs up for new dog-friendly pub awards: Pub operator Yummy Pub Company has registered for the newly launched Dog-friendly Pub Awards. Driven by the fact two-thirds of dog owners are put off by pubs that don’t welcome dogs, the company has also registered on dog-boarding website Yummy Pub Company head of random acts of kindness Allie Abgarian said: “When dog beers were brought to the market, we were one of the first businesses in the on-trade to buy them in, on top of always having offered doggy biscuit treats and water bowls. They’re called man’s best friend for a reason – to most people a dog is part of the family and, sometimes, their only family.” Yummy Pub Company, headed by Tim Foster, Anthony Pender and Jason Rowlands, operates six pubs – The Grove Ferry in Canterbury, The Somers Town Coffee House in Euston, the Gorringe Park in Tooting, the Wiremill near Lingfield, the Victoria in Mile End, and The Stoke Newington Tea House.

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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