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Fri 16th Sep 2016 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Aston Manor Brewery reports fall in turnover and Ebitda: Birmingham-based cider-maker Aston Manor Brewery has reported turnover fell to £108,663,941 for the year ending 31 December 2015, compared with £122,772,725 the previous year. Ebitda dropped to £8.8m, compared with £9.7m the year before, according to accounts filed with Companies House. Pre-tax profit fell to £5,796,272, compared with £6,916,988 the previous year. The company stated: “Once again, Aston Manor made significant capital investment during the year focusing on enhancement of its production facilities across the group’s three production sites. During the year ended 31 December 2015, the group has invested in the conversion of its site at Stourport-on-Severn into a world-class fruit-pressing and evaporation facility. 2015 has seen the first full fruit-pressing season at the site and we are extremely pleased with the results. This represents a significant step forward for the company and its apple growers. Ebitda for the year amounted to £8.8m (2014: £9.7m). Net cash generated from operating activities amounted to £9.5m (2014: £9.9m). The operating profit (Ebit) for the year amounted to £5.8m (2014: £7.5m). The profit for the financial year amounted to £4.5m (2014: £5.4m). The group continues to invest in undertaking research and development activities to develop new cider production processes and techniques, packaging processes and techniques, and also the development of new products to extend our existing portfolio in line with customer and consumer requirements. A new dedicated research and development laboratory is being created at our Stourport site to facilitate further focus on this area in future years. In 2016, we will continue to invest in plant and equipment across all of our facilities. All of this investment is geared towards the continuous improvement in the quality of our products and the efficiency of their production. Further, we will continue to make commercial investment into our brand portfolio, in particular Kingstone Press – through its multi-faceted sponsorship of the Rugby Football League – Tough Mudder, and an exclusive distribution agreement with Marston’s. UK cider volumes contracted in 2015, and this will most likely continue in 2016. Our diverse portfolio of customers and products inevitably means we have some exposure to this trend. Aston Manor has historically operated almost exclusively within the UK market and, as each year goes by, we seek further diversification into overseas markets and other products. Nonetheless, we rightly maintain our confidence for the business results of 2016 and beyond.”

Industry News:

Canaccord’s Richard O’Donnell 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. Richard O’Donnell, head of the leisure sector at Canaccord Genuity, will provide an overview of the restaurant sector mergers and acquisitions landscape, current valuations in the market and the do’s and don’ts when attempting to attract investment or sell a hospitality business. 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 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

Three-quarters of Britons consider themselves moderate drinkers, health benefits a key factor – report: More than three-quarters (78%) of Britons consider themselves moderate drinkers, according to new research by brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), with health benefits (29%) being one of the key factors in driving smart drinking habits. Other motivations for moderate drinking are managing weight (19%) and, the main factor, avoiding a hangover (47%), while one-fifth (20%) are motivated by saving money. The results suggest Brits may be on their way to a more moderate drinking culture, with only 16% of respondents admitting to drinking above recommended guidelines and 25% of 18 to 34-year-olds feeling more productive at work thanks to moderate drinking. The average Brit spends £47 a month on alcohol – almost £600 a year – but 15% of Brits said they had booked a holiday using money saved by cutting down on alcohol. Half of those polled enjoy an alcoholic drink once a week, and nearly a quarter (24%) at least twice in seven days. The average male drinks 133.6 times a year – every 2.7 days – falling to 101.9 times a year for women. Over-55s drink most frequently, averaging 142.2 times a year, or every 2.5 days. AB InBev said it commissioned the research to demonstrate the benefits of switching between alcohol-free and normal beer during a night out. Anna Tolley, of AB InBev UK & Ireland, said: “Offering consumers a variety of great tasting, alcohol-free options is an important part of our commitment to responsible drinking. Our aim is to empower consumers to make smart choices and reduce the harmful use of alcohol by the end of 2025.”

On-demand delivery service startup Stuart launches in UK: On-demand delivery service Stuart has launched in the UK following a successful trial. The service, which is already working with Burger King and is live in Paris and Barcelona, is initially focusing on London and enables businesses to deliver “any product to their customers in less than an hour”. Founded in 2015 by entrepreneurs Clément Benoit and Benjamin Chemla, Stuart raised €22m in pre-launch funding from investors, including French express delivery company GeoPost. In addition to urgent deliveries, the service offers 30-minute time slots for scheduled deliveries and flexibility for consumers to change the time or location of a scheduled delivery up to 30 minutes before the original slot. Stuart’s API integrates with an operator’s web or mobile platform, with its algorithm designed to learn the pattern of customer demand, predicting the times and locations of surges.

US diners ditching major restaurant companies for small chains and independents, says economist: US diners are ditching major restaurant companies for small chains and independents, according to an economist. Lagging sales at major restaurant chains have recently caused fear in the industry and the economy at large. But according to Michelle Meyer, a US economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, it may be less about personal economic situations or the presidential election and more about consumers’ taste preferences. Using data from millions of Bank of America debit and credit cards, Meyer noted that the weakness in restaurant spending wasn’t as alarming as other people made it seem. Instead of overall weakness, Meyer said the card data showed a preference for local restaurants or small chains instead of large chains. She told Business Insider: “We find that sales of the big chain restaurants, which make up 18% of the aggregate, have been decidedly slower than the rest of the composite. This is indicative of a market shift away from large chain restaurants.”

UK has most hotel rooms under construction in Europe: The UK had the most hotel rooms under construction in Europe during August, according to STR’s latest pipeline report. The report showed the UK had 15,643 rooms in 148 hotels under construction as the number continues to increase across Europe. The region reported 64,454 rooms in 433 hotels under construction for the month – a rise of 19.9% on the previous year. There were also 150,530 rooms in 1,055 hotels under contract in Europe – a 15.7% increase on the year before. Besides the UK, three additional countries reported more than 5,000 rooms in the construction phase – Germany (11,006 rooms in 56 hotels); Turkey (7,951 rooms in 52 hotels); and Russia (7,537 rooms in 37 hotels). Under contract data includes projects in the “in construction”, “final planning” and “planning “stages but does not include projects in the “unconfirmed” stage.

Zapper launches in-app loyalty card: Mobile payment and data insights platform Zapper has launched an in-app loyalty card that allows diners to automatically earn rewards with every payment. Zapper users can already settle their bill, redeem vouchers and leave feedback using their smartphones. However, according to the Mintel Consumer Attitudes towards Mobile Payments UK 2016 report, almost half (46%) of consumers said they would be more likely to pay for things using their smartphone if they were offered rewards. Zapper UK chief executive Gerry Hooper said: “We’ve seen an incredible uptake in the first week of introducing the digital loyalty card, with 10% of our restaurant partners launching their own loyalty rewards scheme within the Zapper app. This is such a simple and seamless process for the user and the venue, with more than 8% of our UK users already opted in to a loyalty card. We are really excited about this feature as a simple way to encourage repeat visits and habitual use of mobile payments.” The Zapper app is free to download for Android, iOS and Windows Phone platforms.

Last few places available for Cask Seminar: The last few places are still available for the Cask Seminar, which takes place on Wednesday (21 September) at Brewers Hall in London. The event will see the launch of two industry reports – the Cask Report 2017 and the Pub Accommodation Report. The tenth edition of the Cask Report has been written by beer sommelier Sophie Atherton, who will outline new research on how to make more profit from cask and how it fits in with the booming craft market? The Pub Accommodation Report, commissioned by Stay In A Pub, covers facts, figures and analysis of the sector during the past three years. The event will also cover the relaunch of the CaskFinder app. For more information, email

ALMR – Welsh councils already have options to tackle problem drinking: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has urged councils in Wales to work with pubs and bars – and to use existing powers to tackle instances of alcohol-related harm – following news that the introduction of a minimum unit price for alcohol would not be permitted. An amendment to devolve control of alcohol licensing to the Welsh Assembly was rejected by the House of Commons. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “We recognise there are concerns around pricing, particularly around off-trade alcohol that can be bought at very little cost and consumed away from supervised premises such as pubs, bars and nightclubs. Minimum unit pricing is a very blunt tool and we do not believe it would have had the intended effect of tackling problem-drinking in Wales. If local authorities in Wales have concerns, they already have sufficient powers to address them, in both the on and off-trade, and should look to use them. Figures from the Institute of Alcohol Studies show about two-thirds of alcohol is bought through the off-trade and consumed away from licensed premises. If councils in Wales are concerned about any perceived health harms related to alcohol consumption, they would be best placed to avoid any measures that promote the responsible consumption of alcohol in a supervised environment and do more to promote it in favour of unrestricted off-trade alcohol.”

London’s biggest pub beer festival returns next month: London’s biggest pub beer festival is returning to Clapham as The Craft Beer Co prepares to host Craft100 from 6-9 October. Last year, more than 4,000 people descended on The Craft Beer Co in Clapham to sink more than 10,000 pints at the annual festival, which is now in its third year. Organisers have assembled beer from UK breweries including Thornbridge, Magic Rock, Tiny Rebel, Wild Beer Co, Beavertown, Siren Craft Brew, and The Kernel. There are also a number of US favourites such as Hoppin’ Frog, Evil Twin and Jolly Pumpkin, and world-renowned lambics from Oud Beersel and Cantillon. It will feature 100 different beers, more than 80 cask ales and 20 keg beers, many of them brewed specially for the festival. The Craft Beer Co managing director Martin Hayes said: “The festival is now in its third year and keeps getting bigger and better. It’s great having the idea for these types of events but they’re only possible because of the efforts and commitment of the great craft brewers we work with and buy beer from, day in and day out, so cheers to them for making the dream a reality.”

Company News:

Columbo Group opens Camden Assembly following £1m investment: The Columbo Group, led by Steve Ball and Riz Shaik, has reopened former London live music venue The Barfly as The Camden Assembly, bringing its roster of London-based restaurants, bars, pubs, clubs and live music venues to ten. The 400-capacity venue in Chalk Farm Road has reopened following a £1m investment and offers live music seven nights a week. The kitchen is run by independent burger restaurant Lucky Chip, which launched its first permanent site – in Dalston – in January following a string of successful pop-ups in the capital. Founded in 2006, The Colombo Group relaunched another legendary Camden venue – The Jazz Café – in May and also operates The Old Queens Head in Islington; Paradise by Way of Kensal Green; XOYO in Shoreditch; Blues Kitchen venues in Camden, Shoreditch and Brixton; The Nest in Dalston; and Phonox in Brixton.

Former Claridge’s chef to launch new restaurant concept Perilla in Newington Green: Chef Ben Marks, who has worked at Claridge’s, The Square, and Noma, and Matt Emmerson, formerly of London-based restaurant company Polpo, will launch new concept Perilla in Newington Green, north London, in early November. The move follows acclaimed residencies at Palm 2 in Clapton and Platform 1 in Dulwich. Marks has devised a menu of seasonal dishes featuring his “modern interpretation of classic European ingredients”. Perilla will offer an a la carte and five-course set menu with dishes including seaweed bread brushed with roasted lamb fat; roast kale with cod roe; cuttlefish bolognese; and preserved plum custard. Emmerson will run front of house and the bar, overseeing a wine list from Europe’s classic regions, cocktails with a focus on gin from small batch distilleries, and Perilla’s own infusions, which will be visible in jars behind the bar. The new restaurant is on the corner of Newington Green and Green Lanes, with the space designed by Red Deer Architects. Much of the furniture and fittings will be vintage pieces, while tables will be crafted from upcycled barn doors. Emmerson said: “We want to bring our twist on fine dining out of expensive, traditional restaurants and make it accessible, affordable, and informal.” Perilla is being backed by a team that includes Philip Howard, of Elystan Street; Martyn Nail, executive chef of Claridge’s; and Thomas Kochs, managing director of Café Royal.

Greene King launches free toolkit for licensees to boost their wine knowledge: Greene King has launched a free service for licensees in its tenanted and leased pub company arm Pub Partners aimed at taking the mystery out of wine. The wine and spirits toolkit helps licensees compile and produce a bespoke wine list, which can then be printed for free. The toolkit also provides a guide with recommendations for appropriate pairings, as well as advice on glass sizes and setting the right margins. The toolkit is partnered with carbonated mixer supplier Fever-Tree, offering specialist cocktail menus and guidance on selling gin which, like wine, is rising in popularity in pubs. Greene King Pub Partners managing director Clive Chesser said: “Producing a wine list can seem a daunting task but with this toolkit we can break down the process, making it much easier to offer the right range. This service is designed to educate licensees about wine in a positive and unpretentious way. It is a service designed to help run a business better by embracing wine. The benefit for our licensees from this specialist training is to give them a better understanding of wine, its different styles and characteristics, and a greater awareness of how to present and serve it, including pairing it with food.”

Cambscuisine to open new ‘modern brasserie’ concept in Cambridge next month, seventh site in total: Pub and restaurant operator Cambscuisine, led by Oliver Thain and Max Freeman, will open a new “eclectic modern brasserie” concept in Cambridge at the end of next month. The company is launching Millworks in the old watermill on the Mill Pond, which was previously home to Casual Dining Group brand Bella Italia. The restaurant, which will have 130 covers and feature an indoor barbecue, will offer brunch-style food and meat-based dishes. There will also be an extensive cocktail and wine list. Thain told the Cambridge News: “We bought it about a month ago – now we’re gutting it and turning it into a lovely spacious building. We’re building a new water wheel. We’ve changed where the bar was and we’re rebuilding it. We’re also having a massive change of decor and interior design – turning it on its head. It’s a great spot, we’re very happy to be there. It is going to be an eclectic, modern brasserie.” The new restaurant is the seventh in the Cambscuisine portfolio, which also includes The Cambridge Chop House and Smokeworks.

McDonald’s receives at least three bids for $3bn China, Hong Kong and South Korea business: McDonald’s has received final bids from at least three groups for its 2,800 restaurants in China, Hong Kong and South Korea. Global private equity firms Carlyle Group and TPG Capital have separately partnered with Chinese companies for the business worth up to $3bn, sources told Reuters. Carlyle has joined with Chinese state conglomerate CITIC Group, while TPG has teamed up with mini-market operator Wumart Stores on their separate bids for the 20-year franchise. Real estate firm Sanpower Group, which owns British department store House of Fraser, has also made an offer for the assets, having previously said it was teaming up with Beijing Tourism Group. McDonald’s announced in March it was reorganising its Asian operations, bringing in partners as it switches to a less capital-intensive franchise model. Carlyle and TPG have taken only minority stakes in the bidding vehicles as McDonald’s has said it prefers long-term partners, whereas buyout firms typically cash out after a few years. Beijing Capital Agribusiness Group, which is McDonald’s current China partner, and China Cinda Asset Management Co were previously in the running, although it was not clear if they had made bids. McDonald’s reiterated a previous comment that it is making progress in finding a long-term partner for the assets.

Patty & Bun opens sixth London site: Better burger brand Patty & Bun has opened its sixth site in London, this time in Goodge Street. The new restaurant follows the opening in July of Patty & Bun’s fifth site – a 40-cover, 805 square foot restaurant in Redchurch Street, Shoreditch. The new restaurant features Patty & Bun favourites such as Ari Gold (beef patty with cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickled onions, ketchup, and smokey mayo); and Lambshank Redemption (lamb patty with coriander, chilli, lettuce, buttermilk baby courgettes, pickled aubergine, cumin aioli, and feta). It also offers milkshakes, including peanut butter malt, and cheese balls. Patty & Bun’s other sites are in Old Compton Street in Soho, London Fields, Liverpool Street, and James Street in Marylebone.

Stonegate invests £385,000 to convert Slug and Lettuce site in Durham into Missoula brand: Stonegate Pub Company is investing £385,000 to convert its Slug and Lettuce site in Durham into its Missoula brand. The bar in Walkergate is undergoing a transformation ahead of reopening on Friday, 30 September, reports the Sunderland Echo. It will have Americana-style decor to match the range of imported American craft beers. The two terraces are also being given a makeover. Food will be served during the day, including tapas planks, burritos and pizzas, while the drinks menu will include a range of cocktails, spirits, proseccos and sharing cocktails served in teapots.

Former army officers start expansion of Framptons concept with second site: Three former Parachute Regiment officers turned entrepreneurs will start expansion of the Framptons Cafe Bar & Kitchen concept by opening a second site, this time in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Tom Walker, Ed McAdam and Sam Westlake will open the venue in The Pantiles at a former Barclays site. The restaurant, which will have a “locally influenced menu”, is expected to launch before Christmas, creating 30 jobs. The trio, who have 21 years’ experience in the army between them, took over Framptons Cafe Bar & Kitchen in Ringwood, Hampshire, earlier this year. Walker said they were excited to transform the former bank into their second site. He told the Times of Tunbridge Wells: “We’ve worked hard since we started our new venture earlier this year and we’re looking forward to hiring a new team and developing a locally influenced menu.”

Bourne & Hollingsworth Group to relaunch Fitzrovia bar this month: London bar operator Bourne & Hollingsworth has given its eponymous bar in Fitzrovia a full refurbishment ahead of reopening before the end of the month. Bourne & Hollingsworth Bar is the first venue the group acquired and will reopen with an eclectic mix of period pieces and a new cocktail menu. Bourne & Hollingsworth also operates two cocktail bars in the West End and a modern brasserie and bar in Clerkenwell.

Five Guys to open Aberdeen site next month: Five Guys will open its restaurant in Aberdeen on Monday, 10 October. The company has taken a 20-year lease on the 4,000 square foot site in St Nicholas Street at the main entrance to the Bon Accord Centre. Richard Collier, of Five Guys, told The Press and Journal: “The restaurant will be our 52nd opening in the UK and we’re looking forward to launch day. St Nicholas Street is always jam-packed with shoppers so now we can become the burger of choice when visiting for a spot of retail therapy. Being a university city, we expect our new restaurant to become a busy hub for students and families alike.” Callum Mortimer, director of CBRE’s retail team, which represented Five Guys, added: “As high-street locations go in Aberdeen, this is the ideal spot and will allow the restaurant to have highly desired seating outside the shop. Footfall remains high all year round, and with the quality of other tenants within the block, as well as the draw of the well-established Bon Accord/St Nicholas Centre, I am confident Five Guys will be a real success in such a key retail location.” Five Guys, founded by Jerry Murrell in the US in 1986, currently has five outlets in Scotland – three in Glasgow and one each in Edinburgh and Dundee.

Master sommeliers launch French fine dining restaurant Cabotte in London featuring more than 600 wines: Master sommeliers Xavier Rousset and Gearoid Devaney have launched French fine dining restaurant Cabotte in central London. The restaurant has opened in Gresham Street in the City, with a focus on the Burgundy region. The wine list features more than 600 wines, 500 of them from Burgundy. Rousset and Devaney have won a number of awards between them, including UK Sommelier of the Year. Cabotte employs the Coravin system, which allows wine to be tasted without uncorking the bottle, keeping it fresh. A cabotte is a workers’ refuge found in a vineyard and the restaurant offers two private dining rooms available for hire. The menu, created by head chef and Gordon Ramsay protégé Ed Boarland, features a combination of classic and modern French dishes, including oeuf meurette (delicately poached egg served with smoked bacon and lie de vin sauce), jambon persille (ham and parsley terrine with apple and raisin chutney), and French classics such as beef cheek bourguignon. In May, Propel reported Rousset and Devaney had acquired the former Be At One site in Gresham Street, with a rent of £82,000 per annum. The lease is an assignment and runs until 2035. The site comprises 3,198 square feet over three floors.

Nando’s to open third Basildon site: Nando’s is set to open its third site in Basildon, Essex. The company is opening the restaurant at the start of next month at the Mayflower Retail Park off the A127 on the site formerly occupied by Pizza Hut. It is the third Nando’s in Basildon following on from outlets at The Eastgate Centre and Festival Leisure Park, reports Essex Live.

A2P Hospitality acquires sixth hotel, first in Wales: A2P Hospitality has secured its sixth hotel – and first in Wales – after acquiring the Manor Hotel in Llandudno off a guide price of £595,000. The company, led by Pradeep Sobti, Abhishek Gupta and Akshay Sobti, has bought the property from Mark Richards through agent Fleurets. The hotel has 18 rooms, public bar, dining room, private accommodation and private gardens. The premises fronts the promenade between the Great Orme and Little Orme and enjoys panoramic views of Llandudno bay. An A2P Hospitality spokesman said: “We are really excited to be a part of Wales and the beautiful town of Llandudno. We aim to be part of the strong local community and will endeavour to take the Manor to higher levels of service and hospitality.” Richards added: “Over the past ten years since we originally purchased the Manor Hotel we have enjoyed developing the property into a very busy hotel. The public bar has become very popular with locals as well as visiting guests. Having opened Time Cafe Bar restaurant in Conwy two years ago, which we plan to develop further over the coming years, we leave the Manor Hotel in the secure and safe hands of its new owners.”

Las Iguanas to launch new winter menu: Casual Dining Group-owned Las Iguanas will launch its new winter food and drinks menu on Tuesday, 27 September. The 20 new additions include “taco planks” – five fusions that top a classic tortilla – corn and habanero fritters with sticky chilli jam, and sea bass, crab and prawn on a bed of aromatic herbs. New desserts include kahlua chocolate cortado (condensed milk, chocolate and coffee liqueur topped with dulce de leche) which comes with a cinnamon sugar-dusted churro. There are 14 additions to the drinks menu, including Smoked Cuban Old Fashioned – infused by a theatrical plume of Applewood smoke – and Rum Julep. There are also three new alcohol-free creations. Las Iguanas operates 53 restaurants across the UK.

Michelin-starred Peruvian restaurant Lima Fitzrovia to launch new menu: Michelin-starred Peruvian restaurant Lima Fitzrovia will launch a new menu on Thursday, 6 October following a summer of exploration and research in Peru. Returning to his native country, Lima chef and head of culinary development Robert Ortiz and his team returned with new ingredients, techniques and culinary practices. The new menu will feature a variety of roots native to the region, which Ortiz will use to accompany duck and beef dishes and enhance a range of vegetarian options. Multiple varieties of seaweed will also be added to fish dishes, including turbot and zander. A new coffee, sourced from Lonya Grande, near the Maranion River, will also appear on the menu and be used to marinate meat. Other changes to the menu include a new version of Peru’s national dish – ceviche – and a selection of desserts. LIMA has also undergone an interior and exterior refurbishment. Ortiz said: “During my recent trip to Peru, I reconnected with my roots, people and traditions. It was a fantastic trip that not only encouraged innovation in my cuisine but also enabled me to bring some truly authentic and new ingredients to London’s Peruvian food scene.”

New concept The Beautiful Pizza Boy set to launch in London on Saturday: New concept The Beautiful Pizza Boy is set to launch in London on Saturday (17 September). The pizzeria and cocktail bar in Bellenden Road, Peckham, will feature a wood-fired oven as well as a courtyard and terrace. The restaurant will offer a selection of Italian-inspired cocktails alongside wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas and homemade cured meat and fish dishes.

CH&Co Group’s Charlton House retains £3m contract with National Assembly for Wales: Corporate catering company Charlton House, part of the CH&Co Group, has retained the contract to provide full catering and hospitality services to the National Assembly for Wales for a third consecutive term following a competitive tender process. The five-year deal, worth more than £3m, will see Charlton House provide catering and hospitality services at the restaurant, shop, cafe, members’ tea rooms and events at the Senedd, the home of the Assembly’s debating chamber. It will also cater for the building’s committee rooms and the historic Pierhead visitor, events and conference venue. Charlton House managing director Paul Honey said: “For ten years we’ve delivered innovative and quality food and service across the Assembly estate and we look forward to building on this and bringing even more exciting and appealing initiatives to the heart of Welsh democracy.”

Oakman Inns and Restaurants raises more than £20,000 for Italian earthquake victims through pasta and pizza dish donations: Oakman Inns and Restaurants has raised more than £20,000 for victims of last month’s earthquake in Italy. The company, which operates 16 pubs across the Midlands and southern England, donated the full net price of every pasta and pizza dish sold in a 72-hour period to the Italian Red Cross to support its relief efforts in Amatrice and surrounding areas. In total, £20,744 was raised. Using social media hashtag #EatForItaly, customers were encouraged to show their support for the initiative by ordering a pizza or pasta dish instead of one of the pub’s other 40-plus dishes. Chief executive Peter Borg-Neal said: “It was very touching to see the support so many of our customers gave the campaign and they all deserve a huge round of applause for their support as the final result has exceeded our expectations.”

Booker Group reports non-tobacco sales up 15.5%, like-for-likes increase 0.9%: Wholesaler Booker Group has reported group sales, including Budgens and Londis, rose by 15.2% in the 12 weeks to 9 September 2016, with non-tobacco sales up 15.5%. Like-for-like non-tobacco sales, excluding Budgens and Londis, grew by 0.9%. The company stated: “Booker India performed as we expected. Premier continues to grow and we made good progress with the integration of Budgens and Londis. Our balance sheet remains strong with a net cash position as at 9 September 2016 of approximately £105m. Booker Group remains on course to meet expectations for the year ending 24 March 2017.” Chief executive Charles Wilson added: “Booker Group continues to make good progress, with sales in the quarter up 15.2%. Our plans to focus, drive and broaden Booker Group are on track. Budgens and Londis joined the group last September and are making a solid contribution. We continue to help our retail, catering and small business customers prosper through improving our choice, prices and service.”

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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