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Mon 12th Sep 2016 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

ALMR – proposed rates appeal changes ‘unfair and unworkable’: Proposed changes to business rates revaluation are “unfair”, “unworkable” and will potentially cost businesses “thousands of pounds”, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has stated. The ALMR has written to ministers fiercely opposing new draft regulations that would effectively remove the right of appeal against business rating valuations by allowing those which are deemed to fall “within the bounds of professional judgement” to be dismissed. The association said the move introduced an “allowed unspecified margin of error in valuations, which could see businesses paying thousands of pounds more than they need to with no course for redress”. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The proposed changes to the appeals system are being introduced at the 11th hour, without prior consultation and with no assessment of the impact on ratepayers. They are unfair, imprecise and potentially unworkable, but above all else they are contrary to natural justice. Everyone should have the right to appeal if they disagree with their valuation and not find themselves landed with an unchallengeable bill simply because it is in line with professional judgement. The problem is particularly acute for pubs, bars and restaurants where the valuation is more subjective and hence there will always be professional differences of opinion and the new limb test will create a barrier to appeal. As companies must also enter a pre-appeal ‘check and challenge’ process, the ability to argue ‘professional judgement’ will act as a disincentive to reach a speedy resolution. The ALMR highlighted this with ministers and urged a rethink against such a last-minute development. Pub valuations are based on hypothetical fair maintainable trade. Additional scope for interpretation would only increase the probability of error in the system and do nothing to ensure valuations are carried out correctly and accurately. Allowing a professional margin of error is inevitably going to cause problems and inconsistencies throughout the process and across the entire system. There is no indication of how professional judgement is to be assessed, how it will be implemented or what margins of error permitted. But any blunting of the accuracy in individual valuations can only add thousands to the bottom line of many hard-pressed businesses. At a time when the appeals process is already placing additional financial burdens on businesses, unclear complications such as these are an extra, unworkable burden.”

Industry News:

Brian Whiting to present at Propel Multi Club Conference in November, free places for operators: The last Propel Multi Club Conference of 2016 is now open for bookings. It takes place on Thursday, 3 November at Congress Hall, London. Brian Whiting, founder of gastro-pub operator Whiting and Hammond, will talk about the company’s £200,000, 24-hour fund-raise through Funding Circle to open its latest pub, partnering with pubcos, developing slow-starting sites to realise their potential, tikki huts, and menu evolution, including the introduction of a high-end smoker. 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 Polpo, Snug Bars, Mowgli Street Food, 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

Nine of Marco Pierre White’s pub and restaurant companies go bust owing almost £10m: Nine of celebrity chef Marco Pierre White’s pub and restaurant companies have gone bust owing nearly £10m. Last month Minotaur Inns, which ran four pubs in Norfolk, collapsed having paid back £4.2m of a £7.4m bank loan. Eight more of White’s firms are in liquidation or administration, a Sun on Sunday investigation found. The administrator of Minotaur Inns said: “Following the sale of assets the bank has received a total of £4.2m and suffered a shortfall.” The firm is also likely to owe money to other creditors but the administrator said they did not even invite claims “due to the lack of funds available”. Another company, Frogmill Inn, dissolved in August owing creditors £453,000. Liquidator reports show money owing to creditors, associated businesses and HMRC. Almost £3m is owed to other companies that White controls. However, despite the uncertainty, he opened his 15th Steakhouse Bar and Grill in Lincoln last month and set up a property management company.

Rising payroll costs are hampering UK hotel profits – new report: The increasing growth of payroll costs is hampering the ability of UK hoteliers to increase profit, according to a new study by hospitality intelligence firm Hotstats. The study – Benchmarking Beyond Revpar – polled hotels across the UK during a 15-year period and revealed payroll now comprises as much as one-third of a regional hotel’s cost base. Profit per available room at hotels in the regions has dropped by 26.8% in the past 15 years to £30.49 in 2015 from £41.67 in 2000. During the same period, payroll levels have increased by 25.6% on a per available room basis. A key driver of payroll levels during the past 15 years has been an 80% increase in the national minimum wage, up from £3.70 in 2000 to £6.70 in 2015. The report added that managing payroll levels would remain a challenge for UK hoteliers as the number of hotel staff employed on minimum wage contracts in the UK is projected to increase to 40% by 2020. In the regions, the 28.7% increase in payroll per available room played a “significant role” in the drop in departmental profit conversion to 69.2% in 2015 – from 75.1% in 2000. Despite this, the picture in London is more positive as the pace of growth in revenue offset the 21.3% increase in payroll. Hotstats chief executive Pablo Alonso said: “The ability of UK hoteliers to manage payroll levels could be further tested if the fallout from Brexit triggers a significant policy change regarding immigration to the UK.”

Company News:

Loungers to launch Cosy Club in Liverpool: Loungers will launch its 16th Cosy Club in December, this time in Liverpool. The 300-cover restaurant will open in a 5,900 square foot, first-floor unit in the Liverpool ONE shopping centre, between H&M and Nike, on the corner of Paradise Street and Peter’s Lane. Miles Dunnett, funds director of Liverpool ONE owner Grosvenor Europe, said: “Cosy Club adds a different dimension to our restaurant offer, providing even more choice for visitors.” Jake Bishop, managing director of Cosy Club, added: “Liverpool ONE is an important step in achieving our plans to open 100 restaurants. We are in a prime position in the heart of one of the UK’s leading retail and leisure destinations, in one of the most exciting cities in the country. Grosvenor’s continued focus on adding to Liverpool ONE’s offer has created a very vibrant location that attracts visitors from first thing in the morning right through into the evening. We cannot wait to open.” Metis Real Estate Advisors and Cushman & Wakefield acted for Liverpool ONE. The Cosy Club was represented by Insight Retail Consulting.

Red Dog Saloon to open first site outside south of England next month, in Nottingham:
Red Dog Saloon will open a restaurant in Nottingham next month – the company’s first outside the south of England as part of a regional expansion programme. Red Dog Saloon launched in 2011, offering smoked meat dishes, and currently has three London restaurants – in Soho, Clapham and Hoxton Square – with plans to open five restaurants a year. Openings in Liverpool and Southampton are set to follow the Nottingham launch later this year. Red Dog Saloon owner Tom Brooke said: “To open a restaurant outside London is big step for us but it is also very exciting. Having already developed a loyal following, we can’t wait to prove to Nottingham and other cities why Red Dog Saloon is the go-to place for diners who love authentic American burgers and ribs. We aim to become the number-one American restaurant brand in the UK, with 60 sites nationwide. Having travelled across the US, I realised the UK didn’t have a restaurant where diners could taste and appreciate true, authentic American cuisine. I wanted a place that took inspiration from the culture and served great food and drink. We use specialist smokers and hickory wood chips, imported from the States, to create the truly authentic flavour our customers keep coming back for.”

BrewDog to open Southampton bar this week, first Hampshire site: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog will open its latest bar, in Southampton, on Friday (16 September). The new venue in Upper Bannister Street will be the company’s first in Hampshire, with the nearest BrewDog venue along the coast in Brighton. The company stated on its blog: “Ever since our bar in Brighton opened it has attracted a huge number of loyal fans through its doors, proof (if any were needed) that the south coast of England has a thirst for craft beer. If you happen to be of similar mind, and live 50 or so miles to the west of our forerunner in that part of the world, then you should make a note of what’s happening. Because BrewDog Southampton opens its doors at midday on Friday, 16 September! It has taken us a while to get over the line in Southampton but we were determined to make the location we found into an amazing bar for all beer-loving Sotonians.” In July, BrewDog outlined a “hit list” for new bar locations, offering a £1,000 finder’s fee to anyone who identified a suitable location by 31 August. The company operates almost 30 bars across the UK, as well as 16 international sites.

Bistrot Pierre opens 16th and largest site, in Weston-super-Mare: Private equity-backed restaurant group Bistrot Pierre has opened its 16th site – in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset. The new restaurant in Beach Road can seat 210 guests across two floors and balcony, providing diners with extensive views across Weston’s bay. The venue is the largest restaurant Bistrot Pierre has opened to date and has created 40 jobs. Bistrot Pierre co-owner Rob Beacham told Weston, Worle & Somerset Mercury: “We know we have an offering that works and we are always listening to feedback from our customers. The building has been fully renovated to include large, floor-to-ceiling windows that fill the building with natural light. We’re looking forward to growing a loyal customer base in the town from locals and tourists, just like we have within our other bistrots.” Earlier this month the company, which received £9.8m from Livingbridge last year, secured a site in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands. Bistrot Pierre, which was founded by Beacham and John Whitehead in 1994, will open its 17th site in Altrincham in November.

The Stable to open Exeter site this month featuring rooftop cider and cocktail bar: Artisan pizza and cider brand The Stable, 76% owned by Fuller’s, will open its latest restaurant later this month, this time in Exeter and featuring a rooftop cocktail and cider bar. The new venue will be the latest addition to the new £12m Queen Street dining quarter at the redeveloped Guildhall Shopping Centre when it opens on Wednesday, 28 September, joining Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay, Gourmet Burger Kitchen (its first site in Devon), barbecue restaurant Grillstock, and Faucet Inn’s Scandinavian-inspired restaurant and cafe concept Kupp. Each Stables menu is different and Exeter’s will feature pizzas such as The Ten Tor Tingler and The Cathedral Clucker, named after local landmarks. Co-founder Nikki Cooper told the Express & Echo: “We are so delighted to finally have found the perfect site for The Stable in Exeter, a city we have been keen to open in since our first restaurant in Bridport seven years ago. The Guildhall is an impressive building and we are really excited to have a rooftop cider and cocktail bar, complete with funky renovated caravans, lounge beds and loads of colourful planting.” Exeter will be the company’s 17th site, joining its other venues in Bath, Bristol, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Cheltenham, Cardiff, Falmouth, Fistral, Kew Bridge, Northampton, Whitechapel, Winchester, Weymouth, Plymouth, Southampton and Poole.

JD Wetherspoon adds four new US and UK craft beers to offer: JD Wetherspoon has added four new US and UK craft beers to its offer. They are Sixpoint Resin Double IPA (from Sixpoint Brewery, Brooklyn, US); Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA (Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, Maryland, US); Uprising Treason West Coast IPA (Uprising Brewery, Windsor) and Blue Moon Belgian White (origin rooted in Colorado, US, and brewed in the UK). Sixpoint Resin Double IPA, which has a 9.1 ABV, has been brewed exclusively for sale in Wetherspoon pubs. The craft beers are part of a new selection of drinks available at Wetherspoon pubs. Wetherspoon founder and chairman Tim Martin said: “The new craft beers brilliantly enhance our craft selection and offer our customers a superb choice.”

16 Hospitality acquires fifth pub as record sales drive expansion: 16 Hospitality, the pub, bar, hotel and restaurant business run by Edward Barlow, has acquired its fifth venue – in Stretton, near Warrington – as record sales drive expansion. The pub, formerly known as The Hollow Tree, marks the second phase of the company’s growth strategy after it announced a record 11.4% increase in like-for-like sales to £2.09m last quarter. The site will undergo a full refurbishment and open in mid-2017 with a new menu focusing on quality British food served in comfortable surroundings. Barlow said: “We’ve had our best quarter yet, with our pubs in Anglesey up 8.9% like-for-like on 2015 despite increased competition this year. 16 Hospitality in total is 5.4% ahead like-for-like and broke a record £1m sales during the seven-week summer break.” He added that 16 Hospitality had grown to more than 160 staff and had launched The Hub, an in-house training programme. He said the company had already pinpointed more potential acquisitions in north west England and Wales. 16 Hospitality operates The Swan in Tarporley and The Crown at Goostrey, both in Cheshire, and The White Eagle in Rhoscolyn and The Oyster Catcher in Rhosneigr, both on the island of Anglesey.

Australian chain Ribs & Burgers to open first UK site, in Teddington this week: Australian casual dining chain Ribs & Burgers is set to open its first UK restaurant – in Teddington, Middlesex, on Thursday (15 September). The company operates 17 sites in Australia and one in the US, with another launching soon in South Africa. The debut UK venue in Broad Street will feature decor inspired by an old butcher’s shop and offer eight-hour cooked ribs, burgers, including a signature Wagyu burger, as well as sides and salads. Ribs & Burgers UK managing director George Stathakopoulos said: “We are incredibly excited to announce the opening of the UK Ribs & Burgers and look forward to welcoming our first guests through the doors. We are focused on treating our local Teddington community, and beyond, to fresh, succulent food and personable service and are confident they will enjoy the range of quality dishes on offer.” The company states on its website: “They say if you want to be great at something you’ve got to focus on your strengths. Well, here at Ribs & Burgers our name says it all. A meal at Ribs & Burgers is like stepping back in time, to a restaurant started by your local butcher who decided to put their cooking advice into practice.”

Nice Bars opens third pub in City of London: Pub operator Nice Bars has opened its third venue in the City of London. The company has reopened The White Horse in Houndsditch as The Lion Bar & Kitchen following a full refurbishment and offering a half-price food menu until Tuesday, 20 September. Located between Liverpool Street and Aldgate, the former O’Neill’s site has been extensively remodelled to incorporate a marble drawer-fronted bar, reclaimed wooden floors and vintage leather seating that harks back to the golden age of Victorian pubs. The Lion offers a regularly rotating range of craft beer, real ale, wine and cocktails, alongside an extensive list of British and international gins and Scottish, Irish and Japanese whiskies. The food menu showcases high-quality, seasonal British food as well as a selection of hand-stretched stone-baked pizzas and lighter dishes. Nice Bars founder Tesh Patel said: “We’re delighted to open The Lion and further develop our portfolio of City pubs. We’re going to have some fantastic beers on tap, as well as the best bar food in the area. We hope our customers like the new offer.” Founded in 2009, Nice Bars also operates The Pepys Riverside Bar & Dining at Mansion House and The Ship, near Tower Hill. The company said it was currently looking to acquire more central London sites.

Rub Smokehouse & Bar to open American-style restaurant in Newcastle city centre, third site: Rub Smokehouse & Bar is set to open its third American-style restaurant and cocktail bar, this time in Newcastle city centre. The new venue, named Rub On The Tyne, will open in The Gate next month creating 60 jobs. Rub Smokehouse & Bar launched in Nottingham and opened a second venue in Birmingham in July. The new 150-cover venue is at the former ASK Italian site in The Gate, which became available when the Azzurri Group-owned restaurant announced it was closing to move into nearby Intu Eldon Square. The concept is the brainchild of Luke Billingham, Sean Singer and Jason Rowe and features “huge plates” of low and slow meat smoked over hickory, including pork shoulder and beef brisket cooked for 16 hours, burgers, desserts and inventions called Epicspecials, including the Burshake – a burger and beer shake with a waffle burger. Doggy bags are given to customers who can’t clear their plates. A large bar offers craft beer and speciality cocktails, including sharers served in tin baths. Rub Smokehouse & Bar general manager James Metcalfe told Chronicle Live: “I believe our style and brand will fit in perfectly with Newcastle – we’re loud, over the top, famed for our gargantuan portions, and we take our products very seriously. The venue will be casual, and will make you feel great. The music will be a little too loud and the atmosphere pumping. We make sure customers have a great time in a great atmosphere that they won’t find anywhere else.”

Baker and dessert delivery service Sweet Tooth to continue expansion with fifth north east site: Sweet Tooth Delivery is set to continue its expansion across the north east by opening its second Sunderland dessert parlour next month and its fifth in the region. Within months of founding the company in Durham in 2009 as a late-night cake delivery service for students, owners Kayley Smith and John-Paul Stonehouse started to expand the business, opening dessert parlours and take-outs across the region. The company now has two sites in Durham, one in Middlesbrough, and one in Sunderland’s High Street West. Its fifth outlet will open in Sea Road at the end of October. Smith told Insider Media: “Since opening our High Street West branch we have been inundated with requests to offer our delivery service to the north of the city, so it seemed the right thing to do. This branch will be the third new addition to the Sweet Tooth Delivery family this year and we are delighted we have become so popular across the region. We have always believed our products need to be fresh and baked locally and we’re very proud of the fact we are now able to celebrate opening our fifth store.” The company recently moved its bakery to larger premises to cope with demand.

New Thai restaurant concept to open in Ashford this month: A new Thai restaurant concept is set to open in Ashford, Kent, this month. Ben Godfrey is launching Po Thai in Park Street on the site of the former Press Rooms premises. The restaurant, which will feature authentic Thai decor, will offer a range of options, including a lunchtime menu and Thai tapas dishes. Once the restaurant is up and running, the team plans to run cooking courses in Thai food at the venue. Godfrey told Kent Online: “We are really excited. Having a town centre venue is great. This area is almost becoming the food quarter of the town.”

Modern British restaurant concept No.12 to launch in Surrey headed by Claridge’s-trained chef: Modern British restaurant concept No.12 will launch in Surrey next month, with the kitchen headed by Claridge’s-trained chef Jason Marchant. No.12 will open in Waterhouse Lane, Kingswood, on Monday, 3 October, taking the place of the former La Perla Italian restaurant. Marchant was also head chef at The Northbank Restaurant in St Paul’s, London, and his seasonal menu will feature 35-day, dry-aged steaks from local farmers, as well as a wide selection of fish dishes, including hake, halibut, turbot and sea bass. The restaurant will also feature daily specials, depending on the availability of local ingredients. Describing No.12 as a “relaxed, food-lover’s restaurant”, manager and partner Chris Lambert told Croydon Advertiser: “We are so excited at the prospect of one of London’s hottest head chefs coming to Kingswood. The dynamic menu will really give Surrey’s food scene a shot in the arm. We are aiming for a warm, relaxing, comfortable restaurant where you can come with your family or friends. We use quality produce, professionally cooked at sensible prices, and our wine menu is sensibly priced.”

Harbour Hotels to open boutique Bristol site next month: Harbour Hotels, which operates boutique hotels across the south of England, will open a 42-bedroom site in Bristol in early October, the 13th property in its portfolio. The group, which focuses on coastal locations in southern England, acquired two former bank buildings in Corn Street in October last year, which it has linked to create a 42-bedroom hotel with restaurant and event spaces. Suites will feature roll-top baths and city views, while the former basement bank vaults are being transformed into a Harbour Spa that will open in spring 2017, Hotel Owner reports. The building was designed by William Bruce Gingell, who sought inspiration from the 16th century Library of St Mark in Venice.

Carlsberg UK partners with Brooklyn Brewery: Carlsberg UK is partnering with Brooklyn Brewery to handle exclusive distribution of the independent US brewer’s beer portfolio in the UK following an agreement to transfer distribution rights from James Clay. The deal will become effective from 30 December. In the free trade, Carlsberg UK will manage the Brooklyn Brewery portfolio through its newly-launched brand and sales division House of Beers, which is dedicated to world, craft and speciality beers and ciders. Liam Newton, vice-president of marketing for Carlsberg UK, said: “Brooklyn Brewery is at the forefront of the craft beer revolution, brewing quality beers that drinkers seek out and enjoy. Brooklyn Lager has seen value growth of 54% over the past year in the UK. The Brooklyn beer range will complement our existing portfolio of premium, craft and speciality beers and ciders and we will ensure it thrives well into the future, like it has in the past.” The agreement follows an 11-year relationship between Brooklyn Brewery and the wider Carlsberg Group, which sells Brooklyn products in more than a dozen markets. The brewers have also co-operated to open two microbreweries – in Stockholm, Sweden, which launched last year and Trondheim, Norway, which opened last month.

Lincoln & York attains highest BRC roastery audit rating: Coffee sourcing, roasting and packaging specialist Lincoln & York has achieved the highest rating – Grade AA – from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) following its annual roastery audit. The BRC is an internationally recognised safety and quality certification programme and Lincoln & York had been Grade A accredited for more than 12 years. This year’s audit followed several changes to BRC’s inspection criteria, including the introduction of the AA Grade. Lincoln & York factory manager Jeff Kidd said: “The Lincoln & York team worked hard to ensure all areas of the business exceeded the BRC’s already high expectations. We are very proud to receive such positive feedback.” In 2014, Lincoln & York installed the UK’s largest coffee roaster and opened its on-site contingency roastery. In July, the company revealed a new corporate identity following significant expansion.

BB’s Coffee & Muffins opens site at McArthurGlen Designer Outlet East Midlands: BB’s Coffee & Muffins has opened a store at the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet East Midlands. The 1,025 square foot space is located in the mall in South Normanton, Derbyshire, with an outdoor seating area providing shoppers with a pit-stop between purchases from the 65 high-street brands located at the centre. So far seven members of staff have been employed, with a further six to come. Paul Tyler, centre manager of McArthurGlen Designer Outlet East Midlands, told the Nottingham Post: “We’re excited to welcome another great brand to our dining offering. We’re all big fans of the BB’s menu and, with an outdoor seating area as well, it’s bound to be a popular spot within the centre.” The new store offers fresh sweet and savoury products, including 120 types of muffins, paninis and sandwiches, as well as freshly ground barista-made coffee. The company, which operates more than 50 coffee shops across the UK and Ireland, was bought by Brentwood Investments from businessman Denis O’Brien last year for about €10m. Last month, BB’s Coffee and Muffins opened a site at the Intu shopping centre in neighbouring Derby.

Moroccan concept Marrakech Bar and Kitchen launches in Lincolnshire: New Moroccan concept Marrakech Bar and Kitchen has launched in Laceby, Lincolnshire. The restaurant in Caistor Road is on the site of the former 1815 Bar and Grill and offers a “taste of the mystical and romantic soul of Morocco in the heart of the village”. Head chef Laz Elantouri’s menu features tagine dishes – served in genuine Moroccan earthenware – couscous, fish dishes and brochettes, as well as a full tapas selection. He told the Grimsby Telegraph: “The food is authentic, which comes from my experience in Morocco. In this area we don’t have this style. We feel like we’ve filled a gap – this area needed another inspiration. The back room will be a cocktail bar and function room.”

Restaurant director disqualified for employing illegal workers: The director of a restaurant in Weymouth has been disqualified for employing illegal workers. Jamal Uddin was director of restaurant company WT Restaurant, which traded as Weymouth Tandoori. On 27 January 2015, Home Office Immigration Enforcement (HOIE) officers found he was employing two members of staff who were not eligible to work in the UK. He has now given an undertaking to business secretary Greg Clark that prevents him from being directly or indirectly involved in the promotion, formation or management of a company for six years from 15 September. WT Restaurant went into liquidation on 31 July 2015 owing £33,802 to creditors. Of this, £20,000 was the fine imposed by HOIE. Sue MacLeod, chief investigator at the Insolvency Service, told Insider Media: “Illegal workers are not protected under employment law and as well as cheating legitimate job seekers out of employment opportunities, these employers don’t ensure appropriate tax is paid and, as a result, can undercut honest competitors. This should serve as a warning to other directors who may feel tempted to break the law.”

Greggs to launch new ‘healthy’ pasties: Greggs is launching two new products with reduced fat levels and lower calorie counts. The UK’s largest bakery chain is introducing “healthy” pasties, which contain less than 300 calories and up to two-thirds less fat and saturated fat. The two new products, with chicken katsu or Bombay potato fillings, use a crunchier sourdough-based shortcrust pastry (with a crumb topping) rather than traditional puff pastry laden with butter. That means they score green and amber – rather than unhealthy red – on the Food Standards Agency’s “traffic light” system. Greggs chief executive officer Roger Whiteside told The Guardian: “Greggs is well-loved for its traditional pasties and sausage rolls but we recognise our customers are increasingly looking for lower-calorie and lower-fat options.” Greggs’ move is part of a wider push by brands to be seen to be offering healthier options. PizzaExpress last week linked up with Iceland to debut its new Artisana range of frozen pizzas, including five made from a sourdough base instead of conventional bread. Earlier this year, Casual Dining Group-owned Bella Italia became one of the first chains to introduce spiralised vegetables to its menus and McDonald’s introduced a new salad mix. Greggs began to bring in healthier options earlier this year – a strategy that appears to be paying off as its “balanced choice” products now account for 10% of sales.

Turkish restaurateur to start expansion of Konya concept with Birmingham Jewellery Quarter opening: Turkish restaurateur Kilbria Ghulam will start expansion of his Konya concept this week with the launch of a second restaurant in Birmingham, this time in the Jewellery Quarter. Ghulam operates Konya Grill in Perry Barr, which Just Eat named the best Turkish restaurant in Birmingham. New venue Konya’s Gold will open in Pitsford Street on Tuesday (13 September), featuring authentic Turkish cuisine, Mediterranean and North African-influenced decor, and an outdoor terrace. Dishes will include baba ghanoush, tabboleh made with bulgar, falafel and fattoush salad, and mixed meze platter. There will also be fish dishes and charcoal-grilled meat, while drinks will include “mocktails”. Ghulam told the Birmingham Mail: “Konya is an area in Turkey famous for its elegant cuisine. We added gold to the name in tribute to the Jewellery Quarter. We’re very excited to be opening here.”

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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