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Wed 14th Sep 2016 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Just Eat relaunches brand with new company vision: Just Eat, the digital market place for takeaway food delivery, has relaunched the brand with a new company vision – to create the world’s greatest food community. This will be brought to life via a major brand refresh, which will initially launch in the UK before rolling out to its other 12 markets. Several new initiatives are being introduced to optimise the brand experience for its customers and restaurant partners. Just Eat will be one of the launch apps for Apple Watch Series 2 and WatchOS 3, which was unveiled last week. Just Eat’s new Facebook Messenger Chatbot aims to bring food discovery to life by engaging with customers to coach and inspire their food choices. Customers will be able to message the Chatbot, whether they fancy ordering their usual favourite or trying something new, and the bot will offer them a selection of different restaurants they haven’t previously ordered from if that’s where their mood takes them. The Just Eat app and website will be refreshed and new features added over the coming months to enable better discovery of favourite foods and restaurants as well as helping customers to find new cuisines they might not have considered before. The company will also unveil new-look resources for its partner centre and DriverApp, and will bring together its whole offer to restaurants as part of a new “Restaurant Partner Value Proposition” to be launched in October. The new Just Eat brand was developed by brand consultancy Venture Three, and will be supported by a UK marketing and advertising campaign, which will launch in the UK on Friday (16 September. The new brand design sees red remain as a lead brand colour. However, a new visual element, the “colour ray”, represents the diversity and variety of the Just Eat world within its community of customers, restaurant partners and colleagues. It also reflects the selection of foods from all over the world available on the Just Eat platform. Chief executive David Buttress said: “Just Eat has operated in the UK for ten years and is now one of the most recognised and best-loved food tech companies in the country. As we embark on our next phase of growth and cement our leadership position, our new vision – creating the world’s greatest food community – provides us with new focus and momentum to take the business forward.” Barnaby Dawe, global chief marketing officer, added: “Our new brand acknowledges what Just Eat has achieved so far, while setting the tone for where we want to go next. It marks an evolution in our approach to meeting our customers’ changing expectations and to adding more value to the relationship we have with our restaurant partners.”

Industry News:

Host of companies sign up for Professor Chris Muller’s Multi-site Management Masterclass: A host of companies and brands have signed up for this 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, 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 and Belgo. 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. Former Rosinter chief executive Kevin Todd will also give his insights on talent management. 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

Specialist grab-and-go concepts are ‘foodservice sector’s biggest growth opportunity’: The biggest growth opportunity in the foodservice sector will be “specialist grab-and-go” concepts, while easy-payment technology such as mobile apps with pre-ordering and loyalty rewards have increased sales by 20% over the past year, according to Wendy Bartlett, executive chairman and founder of contract catering company Bartlett Mitchell. Speaking to CGA Peach vice-president Peter Martin ahead of their question-and-answer session at food-to-go trade show lunch! next week, she said: “Key trends will be specialist grab and go – like our new noodles concept. Certainly there will be more focus on hot grab-and-go ideas, particularly for breakfast. This market is the biggest growth opportunity, especially when set at a good price point.” Bartlett said one of the biggest trends during the past year focused on how food was paid for, particularly the move to electronic payment, use of smartcards and mobile payment. She said: “It was a slow burn and has just taken off in the past year with a boom. Using this easy payment technology has increased sales by 20% and mobile apps with pre-ordering and loyalty rewards has driven customer enthusiasm and sales.” Bartlett said another emerging trend during the past year had been an increase in customers wanting to “purchase with purpose”, highlighting the recent success of two Bartlett Mitchell concepts – single-source Fairtrade Perkee coffee and Thirsty Planet water, showing people “care about provenance and the ‘story’ and are willing to pay more to support them”. She added: “However, it must be authentic. There needs to be proof and the results need to be shared.” She concluded: “Customers are generally time-poor and need easy, nutritious solutions. A key factor is making sure you listen to your customers and get the right feedback. Measure what is successful and use the till results to make informed decisions. It’s not a complicated process to know your market – ‘grab and go’ is about making it a simple transaction.” The lunch! trade show – organised by Diversified Communications UK – takes place at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London, next week (21-22 September).

London business rates could rise by up to 435% following revaluation – new Savills report: The impending business rates revaluation could see some London operators facing a 435% rise in their rates bill, according to new research by agent Savills. Central London operators in particular could face a significant hike following the revaluation, which is due to come into force from 1 April 2017, as rent rises between 2008 and 2015 in the capital’s prime, high-footfall streets has pushed up valuations significantly since the last valuation cycle in 2010. While the figures do not take into account any potential rates relief cap, they highlight the challenges London’s businesses are likely to face. According to Savills’ data, Mayfair looks set to swallow the biggest rate hike as businesses in Dover Street could see a rise of 435% if no transitional rate relief is applied, although that figure drops to 50% when taking rate relief into account. David Parker, head of rating at Savills, told BDaily: “Although any rise in business rates is very likely to be phased in incrementally, the mechanics and timing of the phasing are yet to be formally announced – hence we don’t know what the cap on any increase will actually be. The top line, however, is that in most locations in central London rates bills are set to soar, with phasing cushioning the initial impact, but not for long.” Savills also warned that slowing rental growth, forecast for the next five years, could see rates increases outpace value gains, with roads around high-footfall areas such as Covent Garden and Oxford Street, which have enjoyed increases of up to 20% year-on-year, seeing rental values drop to about 5%. However, Anthony Selwyn, head of central London retail at Savills, added that rates rises could be absorbed by the record numbers of tourists currently descending on the capital, helped by the weakened pound. Earlier this week, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) branded proposed changes to business rates revaluation as “unfair” and “unworkable”. The ALMR has written to ministers fiercely opposing new draft regulations that, it said, would effectively remove the right of appeal against business rating valuations by allowing those that 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”. The Valuation Office Agency is set to publish its draft findings on Friday, 30 September.

Restaurant like-for-like sales in US fall 0.6% in August, third consecutive month of decline: Restaurant like-for-like sales in the US fell 0.6% in August – the third consecutive month of decline. Data company TDn2K’s The Restaurant Industry Snapshot, which is based on weekly sales from more than 25,000 restaurants across more than 130 brands representing $64bn in annual revenue, also showed visits fell 2.7%, an improvement on the 3.9% drop in July. Average spend increased by 2.3% in August, a 0.5% decrease from July and the lowest year-on-year change since March. Based on like-for-like sales, quick-service was the best performing segment during August for the seventh consecutive month. Upscale casual and family dining were the only other segments that achieved positive (albeit very small) positive sales growth. Fine dining, fast casual, and casual dining all experienced negative like-for-like sales growth during the month. In August, those industry segments that experienced a drop in their average spend growth rate from July to August (fast-casual, family dining and casual dining) all improved their traffic growth by more than 1% over their July results. Meanwhile, segments that experienced an increase in their average spend from July to August posted an improvement in traffic growth of less than 1% over their July rate. The only exception was fine dining, which posted a robust improvement in traffic while slightly accelerating its growth in average spend. Victor Fernandez, TDn2K executive director of insights and knowledge, said: “Given the current environment, characterised by a continued decline in traffic, drops in average spend have been associated with a boost in traffic, but the impact on incremental sales is usually underwhelming.”

BPC calls for government to remove Pubs Code adjudicator after new evidence shows he ‘failed to accurately declare his interests and misled MPs’: The British Pub Confederation has called for the government to remove Pubs Code adjudicator Paul Newby after it disclosed new evidence that it said showed he “failed to fully and accurately declare his interests when applying for the position and misled MPs”. The evidence, detailed in a letter to Greg Clark, secretary of state for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, relates to Newby’s failure to accurately reflect his position at Fleurets, which the confederation believed meant the true nature of his conflicted position was not fully revealed to or examined by the panel that recommended his appointment. Confederation chairman Greg Mulholland said: “This is a very serious matter and shows that he is not fit to be in this hugely important, quasi-judicial position. Papers filed by Fleurets at Companies House show him to have outstanding loans to the company of about £233,000 and his being repaid this sum is dependent on income from the very companies he is now supposed to regulate. This is extraordinary and clearly untenable and not only will tenants not have confidence in Newby, they will not be able to trust him either in the light of the new evidence that has come to light. So far Newby has stubbornly refused to respond to key questions put to him by tenants’ groups and has failed to resign, even in the face of the select committee also deciding that he should go. So the new secretary of state must now show leadership, accept that the recruitment of Newby was a mistake, remove him and appoint someone who can have the confidence of all sides.”

London-based Japanese restaurant Wazen to close ‘due to Brexit’: London-based Japanese restaurant Wazen, which opened in King’s Cross last November, is to close as a result of the Brexit vote, with the Tokyo-based owners blaming “uncertainty” over Britain’s future. Bosses of the venue in Acton Street said it would shut on Saturday (17 September) because of the “Brexit decision and its consequences”. General manager Ken Urata said the decision had been taken by the restaurant’s head office in Tokyo. He told the Camden New Journal: “The consequences of the Brexit decision, especially the weaker pound, means the price of food ingredients from Japan have already started to rise, plus the uncertainty over the future proved too much for them. Basically, businesses don’t like uncertainty.” The restaurant, which is run by head chef Toshimasa Tanahashi, has received rave reviews from customers on rating sites such as TripAdvisor. Urata said Masaru Kurihara, director of Wazen, had expressed “great gratitude towards our loyal customers and he would like to come back to reopen Wazen in the future”.

New plans submitted for £775m Paddington Cube to include rooftop restaurant and public piazza: Plans for a £775m redevelopment of the former Royal Mail depot next to Paddington Station have been submitted to Westminster City Council. Five floors of retail and restaurant space totalling 80,000 square feet are also proposed, including a rooftop restaurant and a public piazza at the front of the station. The plans also include a 14-storey, cube-shaped office building totalling 360,000 square feet and 1.35 acres of new public realm. Great Western Developments and Sellar Paddington are behind the Paddington Quarter scheme, which has been designed by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop. The developers said £65m would be invested in public realm and major transport infrastructure improvements. TfL, Network Rail and London Underground have all stated support for the scheme, which includes a new Bakerloo line underground station and ticket hall. Sellar Paddington chairman Irvine Sellar told Property Week: “We believe our plans will deliver significant improvements for the area surrounding Paddington Station and provide a catalyst for local retail, business and leisure to thrive.” A decision on the plans is expected in December.

German startup launches free app into UK that locates restaurants catering for special diets: German startup Grünzeug has launched its app Vanilla Bean – the biggest vegan and eco-friendly restaurant guide in German-speaking countries – into the UK. Prominent users include Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, who follows a gluten and lactose-free diet. The free app covers more than 1,800 restaurants in the British Isles, with colour indicators spotlighting restaurants that provide for diets such as gluten-free, organic and raw, making it easier for people who follow special diets or suffer from an intolerance to find a suitable restaurant. Grünzeug co-founder Fabian Kreipl said: “Many of our biggest global issues can be prevented when eating plant-based food more often. Sounds crazy? It is not. Eating plant-based food more often helps the environment. This helps you to not only stay in shape but also save CO2, water and landmass that would otherwise be used for livestock. We are here to facilitate the process for everybody interested in changing their impact on the world.” Vanilla Bean is available as a free download on the UK App Store and Google Play. Vanilla Bean is also available in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg.

Andrew Griffiths to step down as All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group chairman: Burton MP Andrew Griffiths is stepping down as chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group following his appointment as a member of the Government Whips’ Office. Parliamentary rules mean members of the government are not allowed to chair all-party groups. Griffiths, who has chaired the beer group for five years, said: “It has been a huge honour and privilege to represent one of the UK’s vital industries and to chair what I believe to be the best all-party group in Parliament. The group has made a massive impact promoting the interests of Britain’s beer-lovers and pub-goers. None of this could have been achieved without the support of MPs and peers from all political parties.” Campaign for Real Ale chairman Colin Valentine added: “As chairman of the beer group, Andrew has been a leading champion of brewing in the UK. There is no doubt that Andrew’s work on the campaign to end the beer duty escalator was hugely influential in the successful battle to have it scrapped and for the subsequent reductions. These reductions in beer duty have, in turn, supported the resurgence of brewing in the UK over recent years.” An extraordinary general meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group will be held in Parliament later this month to elect a new chairman.

Company News:

Greene King to move Spirit workers off zero hours contracts: Brewer and retailer Greene King will move workers who were previously employed by Spirit off zero hours contracts. The company said it was in the process of moving workers to contracts that guarantee a minimum number of hours. In 2013, Spirit, the owner of brands such as Chef & Brewer, said most of its 16,000 employees were on the zero hours contracts, which give no guarantee of work from one day to the next. Greene King, which had already moved its staff from zero hours contracts before buying Spirit in 2015, said it was working on moving employees to new minimum hours contracts. A spokesman told The Guardian: “We do not have zero hours contracts in Greene King pubs. Spirit Pub Company, which we acquired last year, does have legacy zero hours contracts; we identified this as part of our due diligence and planned to remove them as part of the integration. We will be moving to minimum hours contracts for all colleagues in ex-Spirit pubs over the next year.” The hospitality industry is the biggest user of such contracts, which have been criticised by unions for not offering workers any security over pay. JD Wetherspoon said it would allow 24,000 staff to choose between a zero hours contract and one offering fixed hours after a successful trial of the scheme.

Amber Taverns offers double finders’ fees as it looks to continue to build site pipeline: Managed operator Amber Taverns is offering double finders’ fees until the end of next March – up to a maximum of £20,000 – as it looks to continue to build its site pipeline. The company, which owns about 120 sites, said it was continuing to look for freehold property in town centre locations and would consider pubs, nightclubs, restaurants, offices, retail or other buildings if they meet its requirements. Sites need to have at least 2,000 square feet of trading space with an outside area preferred, or space to create one. The company is planning to open sites this year in Aberdare, Hereford, Kettering, Pontypool and Stourbridge as well as its second pub in Doncaster. It also has a site under offer in Darlington. It has a list of 160 target towns and cities in the north west, north east, Yorkshire, West Midlands, East Midlands, eastern England and the south west as well as Wales but would “consider other similar locations”. Head of property Sam Frankland said: “We are keen for more opportunities to continue our pipeline. To incentivise site finders more we have increased our finder’s fee. We now offer 2% of the purchase price subject to a £10,000 minimum fee and £20,000 maximum for any opportunity submitted to us by 31 March 2017 that we subsequently purchase. We continue to look for freehold town centre property, which can include pubs, nightclubs, retail, offices, former churches. We do not mind as long as the space and location work for us.”

Costa Express installs 6,000th self-serve coffee bar: Whitbread-owned Costa Express has installed its 6,000th self-serve coffee bar, in a Tesco store in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. The milestone puts Costa Express on track to achieve its target of more than 8,000 machines by 2020. Following the £59.5m acquisition of Coffee Nation in March 2011 and after extensive rebranding and technological developments, Costa Express has grown at an average of 70 new self-serve coffee bars per month, with the machines sited in a variety of locations including petrol stations, convenience stores and workplaces. The machines combine fresh milk with ground Mocha Italia blend. Costa Express managing director Murray McGowan said: “Costa Express has enjoyed tremendous growth – from 877 machines in 2011 to 6,000 today. We’ve always been confident we can deliver an unbeatable coffee experience to on-the-go customers by using interactive technology, great Costa coffee and fresh milk. We’ve also been able to export the concept to international markets and are encouraged by the results, signifying the appeal of the brand overseas and potential for further growth.”

Shoreditch bar McQueen to launch steak restaurant with Richard Sandiford: Shoreditch bar McQueen will launch a new steak restaurant next month with the menu specially created by Richard Sandiford. The former Hawksmoor head chef is set to play an integral consultancy role at the venue in Tabernacle Street, encompassing everything from devising the dishes to training the kitchen team when The Grill at McQueen opens on Tuesday, 4 October. Taking its name from the iconic Hollywood star, the new 50-cover restaurant will take its cues from the US, with diners able to choose from an extensive selection of steaks. Hawksmoor’s Richard James will be head chef at the restaurant. Sandiford said: “I’m really excited to be part of this new venture at McQueen and have created a menu that highlights the very best of the seasonal produce in the UK. Each ingredient comes from suppliers I have worked with over the years, and all are locally sourced – even the bread comes from just around the corner at The Dusty Knuckle Bakery in Hackney. Guests can expect some really special cuts of meat at The Grill.” Earlier this year, McQueen launched “posh dog” pop-up Rockadollar, the brainchild of Sandiford and events manager Emma Jerrard, in its new outdoor space.

Macellaio RC to open third London site next month featuring theatrical in-house butchery and Ligurian bakery: London-based Italian restaurant Macellaio RC will open its third site next month featuring two new concepts – a theatrical in-house butchery and a Ligurian bakery. The company, founded by Roberto Costa, will open the venue on Saturday, 1 October in the recently refurbished Union Yard Arches in Union Street, Southwark. The beef will be dry-aged on-site for five to seven weeks and hung behind glass. Inspired by the numerous theatres in the area, a stage will extend into the restaurant between two large banquet tables on which the Macellaio RC team will showcase the best cuts of the day. A white marble butcher’s block will be framed by curtains in the ground-floor dining hall, where butchers and chefs will prepare steaks, carpaccios, tartars, and cured meats in front of diners. It will also be the first restaurant by Genoa-born Costa to feature his take on a Ligurian bakery or “pizzeria secondo me”, where hand-made dough, which takes 48 hours to prepare, will be produced daily using only water, natural yeasts and Italian flour. The bakery will serve a range of traditional Ligurian breads, vegetable tarts, fresh pasta and pastries. The restaurant menu will feature Fassona beef from small artisan farms in north west Italy. The dishes will be prepared simply, seasoned with rock salt and Tuscan olive oil to allow the natural flavours to take centre stage. Macellaio RC’s other sites are in South Kensington and Exmouth Market.

Daniel Thwaites agrees deal for historic Chester building: North west brewer and retailer Daniel Thwaites has agreed a deal to redevelop a historic building in Chester city centre. The company has agreed a 150-year lease with Cheshire West & Chester Council to revamp Dee House despite objections from residents who campaigned for it to be restored as an amphitheatre. Daniel Thwaites’ proposal is understood to include a hotel and visitor centre and is subject to planning permission. Louise Gittins, cabinet member for communities and wellbeing at Cheshire West & Chester Council, told Place North West: “We can confirm that Daniel Thwaites is the successful bidder for the development of Dee House. We are currently still within an EU procurement exercise and will be able to provide further details in the next few weeks.” Dee House is 300 years old and a listed building that has been vacant since 1993. Historic England wants it retained. A council report published this month into the leasing decision argued “only fragments of the amphitheatre survive as most of the stonework had previously been removed for re-use elsewhere”. The part of the amphitheatre Dee House sits on was covered in the 1960s. Dee House has been previously used as a convent and an office.

Tasty gets go-ahead to open Wildwood restaurant in York: Tasty has been given the go-ahead to open a Wildwood restaurant in York. The company has been granted permission by City of York Council to convert the Timberland clothes shop in Low Petergate into its latest site, reports York Press. Planning agency Bidwells said in a written statement with the application that Wildwood was an “expanding group of restaurants that serve freshly prepared food, sourced locally”. It added: “Principal meals comprise grilled dishes, pizzas, pastas and burgers at affordable prices aimed at all ages. It will also provide an outlet for locally grown produce used in the creation of the meals. This local sourcing will be of benefit to local suppliers and traders and the company looks to work with the local community.” Bidwells said the building was ideally located for Wildwood and said it would offer increased choice for local residents and workers and would boost the local economy with about 40 jobs. Wildwood currently has 36 sites in the UK.

MeatLiquor opens East Dulwich restaurant, ninth UK site: MeatLiquor, co-founded by Scott Collins and Yianni Papoutsis, has continued its expansion by opening its ninth UK site and tenth overall, this time in East Dulwich. The new venue in Lordship Lane will feature the company’s signature burgers, barbecued chicken wings, fries and desserts, as well as a “triple chilli challenge”, which is free if you eat it in fewer than ten minutes. It also offers shakes, cocktails, beer and, of course, spirits. MeatLiquor’s other London sites are in Covent Garden, Islington, Marylebone and Hoxton Market, with regional sites in Brighton, Bristol and Leeds as well as an international site in Singapore. The company also operates a ChickenLiquor store in Brixton. The next MeatLiquor site to open will be in Croydon Boxpark.

Newcastle Gin Company receives licence to start distilling from city’s only working in-house gin still: Newcastle Gin Company, part of Vaulkhard Group, has received its licence from HM Revenue and Customs to start distilling from the city’s only working in-house gin still. It means Bealim House can now legally start to distil its Newcastle Gin on-site under duty suspension, where previously it had been distilled at Durham Distillery, which Vaulkhard Group partnered with earlier this year to create Newcastle Gin Company. The 400-litre, eight-foot custom-built Bealim House gin still is encased behind bulletproof glass and has a specially constructed bonded warehouse in the basement for the back-of-house distillery. Harry Vaulkhard, director of Vaulkhard Group and Newcastle Gin Company, said: “The application process has been incredibly lengthy and challenging, which I believe is largely due to a spike in applications for craft distiller licences across the UK. The idea was to offer our customers something a bit different to other popular ‘gin bars’. Instead of simply compounding gin we wanted to create our own unique taste and brand of gin, as well as providing a visual and unusual talking point within the venue. We have seen increasing demand to produce Newcastle Gin, which has been challenging for Durham Distillery. However, now we can distil on-site we’ll aim to produce up to 400 litres a week, which will allow us to sell the product to the public and other leisure outlets.” Newcastle Gin will also be available to buy by the bottle in a number of Vaulkhard Group’s other venues, including Barluga bars in Newcastle and Morpeth, and Perdu in Newcastle city centre. The on-site distillery will also offer guests a chance learn about distilling and take part in specialist masterclasses.

Iraqi cuisine concept Juma Kitchen secures extended residency at King & Co in Clapham: Iraqi cuisine concept Juma Kitchen will launch an extended residency at independent Clapham pub The King & Co following a successful series of supper clubs and pop-ups across London. The residency will launch on Monday, 3 October and run daily throughout the month, showcasing an array of Iraqi small and large plates ideal for sharing, plus regularly rotating specials and weekend brunch dishes, when the venue will also offer a meal option featuring bottomless spicy bloody Marys. Juma Kitchen founder and head chef Philip Juma has worked in well-known London kitchens including The Savoy and, most recently, Ottolenghi’s NOPI. He founded Juma Kitchen in 2012. The King & Co in Clapham Park Road has collaborated with a number of London pop-up chefs and street food traders during the past few years, including Tem Ban, Allihopa, The Bell & Brisket and Fowl Mouths.

Heavenly Desserts gets go-ahead for sixth site, in Coventry: Artisan dessert restaurant Heavenly Desserts has been given the go-ahead to open its sixth site, in Coventry. The company has been granted permission by the city council to convert an empty unit in Trinity Street into its latest venue. The restaurant will be open between 9am and midnight on weekdays, from 9am to 1am on Saturdays, and 11am to 1am on Sundays and bank holidays, reports the Coventry Telegraph. Established in 2007, Heavenly Desserts focuses on “quality and variety, which extends to both take-out and eat-in menus”. The brand has sites in Birmingham, Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Preston.

Tootoomoo opens Islington restaurant, fourth north London site: Healthy pan-Asian restaurant group Tootoomoo has opened its venue in Islington, the company’s fourth north London site. Tootoomoo Islington, which is in St Paul’s Road, also offers takeaway, collection and delivery services and is described as a “relaxed, vibrant and fun Asian tapas restaurant, transporting hungry Islingtonians from London to the authentic, open and honest ‘shophouses’ of Vietnam and Malaysia, cooking up quality street food inspired by Asian street markets”. Named after an Indonesian folklore story about a hungry giant, Tootoomoo is the brainchild of Philip McGuinness and executive chef Ricky Pang, where sharing plates take centre stage. Pang’s menu combines a fusion of Malaysian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese influences to create a unique Asian tapas. Dishes include shichimi squid, sushi, Thai green curry, duck with pancakes, lemongrass tiger prawns, and popcorn shrimp. There is also an array of gluten-free and vegetarian dishes, while cocktails have a distinctive Asian twist, including the Caipirinha, which comes in a choice of lychee, mango, passion fruit, pineapple or chilli flavours. Tootoomoo’s other venues are in Crouch End, Whetstone and Highgate.

JD Wetherspoon plans roof terrace at Leeds train station pub: JD Wetherspoon is seeking permission to refurbish its pub at Leeds train station, adding a roof terrace as part of the proposal. The company has applied to the city council to revamp and extend the venue. Alongside a reconfigured basement area and revamped ground floor, approval is sought for a new roof terrace and seating area, reports Insider Media. The single-storey flat-roof building the pub is located in was constructed in the late 1990s as an extension to the northern concourse of the station. The station, its northern concourse, 1 Aire Street, and the Queen’s Hotel are all grade II-listed buildings, as is the Wetherspoon premises by virtue of its integration with these structures. As well as allowing the site to achieve its full potential, Wetherspoon said the scheme would maintain continuing employment for at least 50 full and part-time jobs.

Papa John’s franchisee opens second site, targets four stores in West Midlands: Papa John’s franchisee Harry Johal has opened his second store, this time in Aldridge, near Sutton Coldfield, as he aims to run four sites in the West Midlands. Johal has opened the venue in Anchor Parade, creating 20 jobs, having launched his first outlet in Walsall last summer. He said: “Before joining Papa John’s as a franchisee, I worked as a store manager for a rival pizza firm for six years. However, Papa John’s pizza is simply better than the competition!” Papa John’s was founded in the US in 1984 and has more than 4,800 stores in 40 international markets and territories, including 300-plus in the UK.

Smoking Goat founder to open Kiln concept in Soho this month: Smoking Goat founder Ben Chapman will open his new restaurant concept Kiln in Soho on Friday, 30 September. Chapman describes Kiln as a side-of-the-road restaurant, with a short grill menu and a daily noodle dish. His menu has been inspired by the rural simplicity of the Thai borderlands and dishes will combine British produce with Burmese and Yunanese spices – grilled or cooked using a wood-burning kiln. The restaurant in Brewer Street will feature high stools at a long, stainless-steel counter curving around the room and in front of the open kitchen, which will work with whole animals bred specifically for the restaurant. Chapman said: “Many of Kiln’s recipes have been developed while travelling with the team in the northern Thai regions, particularly villages near the Myanmar border, where the Chinese influence is most prevalent. As with Smoking Goat, our aim with Kiln isn’t to replicate these dishes in London but to base what we do around the most flavourful, well-sourced ingredients we can get here rather than import.”

Punch reopens Leyton pub as ‘21st century London local’ following £300,000 investment: Punch has reopened a pub in Leyton, east London, following a £300,000 investment. The company has transformed the former Shoe Laces sports bar in High Road into a “quintessential, 21st century London local”. It is called Pepper’s Ghost in honour of Leyton illusionist John Henry Pepper, and is run by new publicans Jeff Ginsburgh and Victoria Saunders. The pub has been remodelled and redecorated to create a more spacious bar and dining area. It also boasts an updated look and feel with new furniture, fixtures and fittings. Punch area operations manager Tom Langridge said: “This marks an exciting new era for the pub, with Pepper’s Ghost proudly offering all the ingredients that go into making a great London local – fantastic food, real ale and live entertainment, all within a welcoming setting. Under Jeff and Victoria’s leadership, I am certain the pub will have a very prosperous future ahead.”

Tim Barrett – ‘fall in free cash flow per share means JD Wetherspoon stock is overbought, switch to The Restaurant Group’: Numis Securities leisure analyst Tim Barrett has said the fall in free cash flow per share at JD Wetherspoon means the stock is overbought and he believes investors should switch to The Restaurant Group. Issuing a ‘Reduced’ note on the Wetherspoon shares with a target price of 745p, Barrett said: “Like-for-like growth of 3.4% was well ahead of the market (Peach +0.7%) and was price-led. Encouragingly, management believes the price increases have stuck, although it is not promising further increases in the short term. Cost pressures resulted in 55 basis points of margin attrition, albeit weighted to the first half. The main driver was staff costs, which increased by 12% versus a 1% increase in average pub numbers. Importantly, the sale of 80 smaller sites could add circa 40 basis points to group margin and this may have been one factor explaining the better fourth-quarter margin performance (8.2% versus 6.9% in the first nine months). The free cash flow fell by 15% to 85p per share. The working capital inflow was lower than in recent years, reflecting fewer openings, but maintenance capex fell by £10m to £34m (2.5% of sales), which may not be sustainable. Most of the £54m share buyback was funded by debt, meaning lease-adjusted net debt/Ebitda is now 4.4 times, versus 3.9 times three years ago. Note that with a 25% payout ratio, the first £14m of annual buybacks is in effect matching the 50% payout of Wetherspoon’s peers. For FY17 we assume like-for-like sales of 3.1%, a small moderation from fourth quarter 2017’s 4% but still sufficient to cover the anticipated cost inflation (2.5% to 4% in wages, 1% to 2% in other costs). Helped by a £4m reduction in interest costs from swap expiry, this drives underlying earnings per share growth of 7% and broadly flat free cash flow. Wetherspoon has outperformed the FTSE All-Share Index by 17% year to date and now trades on a CY17 stable free cash flow yield of 7.8%. With maintenance capex at 3% of sales this yield decreases to 7.0%. While there may be upside risk if Wetherspoon can push prices further, this is not our base case assumption. In addition with leverage at an all-time high, we do not expect share buybacks to continue indefinitely. Our top pick in pubs/restaurants is The Restaurant Group, where the potential turnaround under new management is not reflected in the free cash flow yield (2017E) of 9.2% in our view.”

Britvic competition helps festival-goers clean up their act: Britvic Soft Drinks partnered with plastics recycling organisation Recoup to launch a competition to encourage the 25,000 people attending Liverpool’s Fusion Festival to recycle their empty bottles. Large recycling bins were sited near Britvic’s soft drinks bar and consumers who returned to recycle their bottles were rewarded with a goody bag containing an entry form for a prize draw. Every hour during the festival, which featured Olly Murs, Busted and Jason Derulo, a winner was awarded a pair of Golden Circle wristbands, giving them access to the VIP area. During the course of the two-day festival, 10,000 bottles were recycled. Britvic corporate social responsibility manager Lauretta Lamont said: “As a business we have committed to making our packaging more sustainable and have a responsibility to ensure the environmental impacts from such a critical component of our products are minimised. Promoting recycling is just one of the ways we are making a difference and educating consumers for the future.”

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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