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Tue 20th Sep 2016 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

McDonald’s UK head of marketing – ‘we have developed a strategy where we’re ready to act when consumer trends reach tipping point’: McDonald’s UK head of marketing Alistair Macrow has said the company has developed a strategy whereby it is ready to act when consumer trends reach a tipping point. Macrow said it has worked to turn around its reputation in recent years by improving the quality of its food, the decor of its outlets, and ensuring it is positioned to be “where people are just about to go”. He pointed to the company’s Signature Collection as an example of how it is keeping up with changes in consumer preferences. With the UK witnessing a trend for high-quality burgers, McDonald’s has responded by offering freshly prepared gourmet burgers that give it the flexibility to personalise. Although the Signature Collection is currently available in only 69 out of its 1,250 UK restaurants, Macrow suggested it showed how McDonald’s was “ahead of the curve”. He told Campaign: “Being the scale of brand that we are, we should always be about half a step ahead of our customers. If we get a full step ahead of them, it’s probably too far; if we’re a step behind, we’re going to miss out.” Macrow joined the company in 2007 at a time when it was battling reputational issues about its health credentials but, after overhauling and rebranding much of its UK estate, including the installation of self-order touchscreens in 500 of its restaurants, Macrow claimed McDonald’s was now trusted by twice as many people as before. He added: “Those sort of movements have really made the brand stick out. At the heart, our aspiration is to be the UK’s best-loved restaurant company. Our journey has been about giving people more reasons to love us and trust us, but also removing some of those barriers to loving us.”

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

Professor Chris Edger 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. Professor Chris Edger, the UK’s leading author on multi-site brand management and leadership, will present on material from his forthcoming book written in partnership with Tony Hughes, eMotion – “How leaders mobilise positive feelings in super-performing teams” – to outline the “Ten Moments of Emotional Truth” of leadership that separates the best from the rest. Pub, restaurant and foodservice operators can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele on or calling her on 01444 817691.

Enterprise Inns licensee to launch UK’s first pub-based radio station: Enterprise Inns publican Ian Evans is set to launch the UK’s first pub-based radio station. Evans reopened The Winchester Arms in Taunton, Somerset, in July following a joint £75,000 investment with Enterprise Inns. Evans will rebrand the pub The Atlantic Radio Café and begin broadcasting live in October. Evans devised the idea with friend Brett Orchard, who has a background in radio production. Customers will be able to watch shows being broadcast live and Evans is targeting more than one million listeners across Somerset, Bristol, South Wales and Devon. A number of DJs have been appointed to present on the station, including former Radio 1 breakfast show host Mike Read. Evans said: “As well as constructing a radio studio in the pub, I have reinvented the menu focusing on the theme of the cafe. I’ve always had the image of something similar to the Hard Rock Café or TGI Friday’s but wanted to maintain a local attitude, not just across the radio but the menu too. We now offer locally sourced craft beer and local produce in our dishes.” Enterprise regional manager Peter Gatling said: “This is a very exciting path for the pub. We are proud to be working with Ian and Brett on this fabulous and unique concept, which I am sure is going to be a huge success.”

Gloucester consults on Late Night Levy: Gloucester City Council is consulting on introducing a Late Night Levy for venues that operate beyond midnight. The authority is asking bars and clubs for their views on a monthly £300 levy to help pay for extra policing and cleaning up. The council stated: “Revenue raised would help manage the night-time economy and reduce crime and public nuisance.” It added that it already had “many initiatives to tackle issues such as crime and disorder, antisocial behaviour and hospital admissions”. These include CCTV, taxi marshals and street pastors but the council added the initiatives were “resource intensive”. It said a late-night levy would allow “relevant businesses to financially contribute towards these and new schemes to make sure Gloucester continues to be a safe destination”. The consultation is open until Wednesday, 7 December.

Pub fruit machines falling out of fashion as food takes over: Fruit and quiz machines, once a mainstay of the British pub, are falling out of fashion as the introduction of food and family-oriented environments make them less relevant. JD Wetherspoon revealed the proportion of its income from fruit machines had halved since 2000, from 6% to 3%, or £48m of £1.6bn revenues. Machine revenue at Wetherspoon has fallen in seven of the past ten years, while at Punch Taverns “machine and other revenue” has fallen 16% in the past five years, from £14.3m to £12m. “The trend of machines in pubs has been down,” John White, chief executive of Bacta, the trade association for the gaming machine industry, told the Financial Times. “If you are offering food and you have the choice of putting a two-foot by two-foot box in a space or a table with two chairs, which would you choose?” The games machine market has also been hit by pub closures and the rapid growth of fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) in high-street bookmakers, which are not allowed in pubs. Simon Townsend, chief executive of Enterprise Inns, said: “FOBTs have undoubtedly reduced gaming machine income in pubs. For the player who wants a gambling experience, FOBTs offer much higher prizes.” Regarding quiz machines, a Punch Taverns spokesman said: “The entertainment they once provided is now available on most people’s smartphones.” However, he added fruit and quiz machines remained a “popular entertainment facility in pubs and an important source of income for our publicans”.

UK hotels see turnover increase 9%: The UK’s hotels saw turnover increase 9% in 2015/16, according to London commercial lender Ortus Secured Finance, despite competition from the likes of Airbnb. Annual turnover climbed from £16.5bn in 2014/15 to £18.3bn, figures showed. It continued a longer trend of improvement, with takings up 26% over five years, with Ortus attributing the growth to budget chains such as Travelodge and Premier Inn, and boutique chains that have focused on luring travellers from outside the EU. Visitor numbers from North America and Canada climbed 9% over the year, with the average stay recorded at 8.5 nights and an average spend of £885 per visit. Numbers from Asia increased 10%, while visitors from Europe were up 4%. Ortus managing director Jon Salisbury told City AM: “Despite the growth of new alternatives to the market such as Airbnb, the UK’s hotel sector has proved itself versatile, and is still thriving. However, in order to capitalise on the growing numbers of visitors outside the EU, hotels may need to rethink how they market to these visitors. It’s important hotels offer the amenities and attractions expected by their target guests. For example, guests travelling from further afield are more likely to stay in the UK for longer periods of time – so hotels that offer spa facilities and entertainment may be more attractive.” Ortus added that the drop in value of sterling following the Brexit vote could cause Britons and overseas visitors to holiday in the UK. However, it added that the long-term effect might be hotels had to work harder and invest more to attract visitors.

Company News:

Loungers reveals openings pipeline to take it to 20 sites in 2016, deals agreed on further 20 to hit 100 milestone: Cafe brand Loungers has revealed a pipeline of openings that will take it to a total of 20 new sites in 2016. The company is also understood to have deals agreed on a further 20 sites allowing the group to reach the milestone of 100 venues by March/April next year. It will open its latest site, Novello Lounge, in Telford, Shropshire, on Wednesday (21 September) ahead of a flurry of openings in the remainder of 2016. Novello Lounge will open in a newly built 3,200 square foot unit in Southwater Square following a £550,000 investment. The company has confirmed additional 2016 Lounge openings will follow in Northampton, Staines, Oldham, Mumbles and Cheadle, as well as a 16th Cosy Club that will open in Liverpool ONE in early December. Loungers chief executive Nick Collins said: “Novello Lounge in Telford is our 14th opening this year and the pipeline remains very strong looking ahead into 2017 and 2018 for both brands.”

Pod opens Seven Dials site with new operating format, eyes further West End venues: London-based healthy eating brand Pod has opened its second site in two months – and its first to open seven days a week. The venue in Upper St Martin’s Lane, Seven Dials, is the company’s first in the West End and it is now targeting further sites in the area. Previously, the brand has successfully focused on a strong presence in the Square Mile and this new location, which follows on from its launch in Kingsway in August, marks its latest expansion. The food philosophy has stayed the same but the brand has made some changes to accommodate its move into the theatre district. The Seven Dials site is open until late, seven days a week, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Pod chefs are working on a range of hot food dishes, set to launch during the next six months. The restaurant also offers a full catering service via its online ordering platform, specifically created for meetings and events, widening its delivery footprint. Executive chairman John Postlethwaite said: “We are extremely proud of this opening, it is a big step forward for us and we are pleased to finally answer the demand from our West End customers. We are testing a slightly different operating model here, with no langars in the customer area. It is designed for speed of service to fit with the needs of the location. We have set a new standard for fast, fresh food in the area. Our sights are now firmly set on further West End locations.”

Vivek Singh to reopen Cinnamon Soho with new look and all-day menu: Cinnamon Soho, the casual modern Indian restaurant from Vivek Singh, will reopen on Thursday, 29 September following a refurbishment, with a new look and all-day menu. The site in Kingly Street is being subtly refreshed using recycled and upcycled materials. There will be hand-painted walls, industrial bar stools, mismatched architectural chairs, and rustic troughs and plants. Indian vendor carts will feature alongside quirky light and timber installations. The restaurant will now open for breakfast, serving Cinnamon Soho’s signature parathas with an option of fillings such as Keema (smoky spiced minced lamb and Keen’s cheddar), and Meetha (coconut, sprinkle of brown cane sugar and Nutella). The menu will also feature a selection of “nibbles”, including Bangla scotch eggs – quail’s eggs wrapped in Calcutta spiced beetroot – and lamb shammi kebabs. For lunch or dinner, “Soho plates” will include smaller dishes such as Kadhai-spiced duck liver on toasted brioche or larger plates such as whole tandoori pomfret with pickled vegetables and Lucknow chicken biryani. There will be set lunch and dinner menus, while the lower ground floor will offer a semi-private dining room with no minimum spend. The refurbished bar will feature new signature cocktails such as the Chilli Black Mango – whisky, Fireball, mango juice, spicy vanilla sugar and a hint of black pepper – and the Spiced Plum Saketini – Bombay Sapphire, plum wine, sake, ginger and lemon zest. Flavoured lassis and mocktails will also make up an extended drinks menu alongside wine, champagne, beer and cider.

BrewDog opens second south coast site, in Southampton: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has opened its second site on the south coast, this time in Southampton. The company stated: “The south coast of England is a hotbed of craft beer, with some fantastic bars, amazing breweries and truly knowledgeable fans – and although it may be a long way from our Ellon headquarters (it’s almost as far as Oslo, in fact) it is high time we added a second bar in that sunny part of the world to partner the epic BrewDog Brighton. So how does Southampton sound? In the city that used to be known at the ‘Gateway to the World’ we have 18 taps celebrating the variety and imagination of global craft beer, serving up a rotating selection of the freshest options anywhere in the city. Our latest UK bar is found in Upper Bannister Street. We have renovated a two-floor standalone building by stripping away recent additions and retaining the original brick exterior, fireplaces and mezzanine. BrewDog Southampton will also be offering growler fills. In terms of food, the bar will be rocking our new pizza menu, and our Cicerone-trained staff are on hand to suggest the perfect beer pairing for each and every pizza on offer!”

Brunning & Price opens gastro-pub on outskirts of Preston: Brunning & Price, the gastro-pub brand owned by The Restaurant Group, has opened a site on the outskirts of Preston. The company has converted former wedding venue Haighton Manor into its latest site, creating 40 jobs. The venue in Haighton Green Lane features a 176-cover restaurant and a private dining area for 14, with room for a further 120 diners on the terrace and lawns. There are seven cask beers, 30 gins and 50 different malts behind the bar as well as an extensive food menu. Brunning & Price managing director Mary Willcock said: “We are very fortunate to have landed such a historic building in this beautiful part of the world. We look for buildings with character that we can sensitively restore to provide a pub we hope will prove to be important to the local community. We also hope to happen on something special in each pub that joins the family and, in the case of Haighton, not only does the pub have great gravitas, but it sits within the most beautiful landscape.’’ Brunning & Price has 55 sites, split between the north west and south east. It has a further three pubs in development – the Physician in Edgbaston; the Dinorben Arms in Bodfari; and the Fox Revived in Norwood Hill – with further expansion planned in 2017. As well as its current work-based training programmes, it now offers a 12-month NVQ in professional cookery and is investigating further apprentice ideas for front of house.

Cote acquires Living Ventures site in Hale: French brasserie Cote has acquired The Hale Grill in Hale village, Cheshire, from Living Ventures, with the venue closing for refurbishment with immediate effect. The Hale Grill had been a fixture in Ashley Road for more than a decade. Cote, meanwhile, revealed more details on another site it will open in Cheshire. It has gained change-of-use planning and listed building consent for a site in Bridge Street in Chester city centre. Permission was granted by Cheshire West and Chester Council for a rear extension, internal and external alterations, extraction equipment, outdoor seating and an awning. Cote is advertising for a general manager and assistant manager for a site formerly occupied by a linen shop and next door to Carluccio’s. Cote head of marketing Genevieve Sparrow told The Chester Chronicle building work is due to begin in November ahead of an opening in spring 2017. Cote currently has 80 sites in the UK, with the nearest restaurant to Chester and Hale in Liverpool.

Crosstown Doughnuts to open second permanent site, in Shoreditch next week: Crosstown Doughnuts, co-founded by Adam Wills and Peter Gordon, is set to open its second permanent site, this time in Shoreditch on Monday, 26 September. The company’s debut doughnut and coffee shop launched in Broadwick Street, Soho, in May 2015, while it also operates a number of market stalls across London. The new venue in Brick Lane will be larger than the Soho site, with space for 30 people, and will offer the full range of Crosstown sourdough doughnuts, including the newly reworked beetroot lemon-thyme doughnut (pink beetroot sourdough ring, hand-dipped in a lemon-thyme glaze and finished with vanilla crumble and fresh lemon-thyme). Coffee will come from Caravan as well as bottled cold-brew coffee from local producers Sandows and its Nitro cold brew on draught, Hot Dinners reports. There will also be Prana Chai soy lattes, Mörk hot chocolate and locally produced seasonal sodas. The venue will be open until 10pm, Monday to Thursday, and 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

Hathor Inns opens new nightclub concept in Newcastle: Irish bar operator Hathor Inns has opened a new nightclub concept in Newcastle. The company has launched subterranean club Illegitimate in Bigg Market. It marks the final piece of the puzzle for the operator, who pledged to create three separate venues at the site of the former Bambu nightclub, which closed when owners PBR went into administration. More then £750,000 was invested into one half of the ground floor, transforming it into its Filthy McNasty’s brand, which has sites in Belfast, London and Nottingham. It has also developed bar and restaurant Passing Clouds, which opened earlier this year. The new venue is designed to be a more upmarket neighbour and has been named after a brand of cigarettes that were once made in Newcastle, reports Chronicle Live. Directors said Illegitimate, which has been decked out with gold leather and velvet seats, including gold beds in the VIP area, will deliver R&B nights until 3am. The club has a tagline “belongs to no-one” and Hathor Inns said: “This club doesn’t belong to us, it belongs to all of you.”

Mark Hix to relaunch Tramshed this week: Restaurateur Mark Hix will relaunch his Shoreditch chicken and steak restaurant Tramshed on Friday (23 September), with some larger options added to the menu. One addition at the venue in Rivington Street will be the Yard of Beef – a 1.5kg, 28-day aged rib of beef on the bone that serves a minimum of three people. Another newcomer will be Big Bird – a huge capon – while there will be four sharing desserts to choose from – an entire bramley apple pie with cream, custard or ice cream (recommended for six to eight people); Oakchurch Farm blueberry and white chocolate ripple cheesecake; salted caramel fondue with marshmallows and doughnuts for dipping; and whole Peruvian gold chocolate cake, Hot Dinners reports. A soft launch will run until 29 September offering 50% off all food.

Plans lodged for multimillion-pound scheme in Inverness featuring five restaurants: Plans have been lodged for a multimillion-pound scheme in Inverness featuring five new restaurants. The owners of the Eastgate Centre – Scoop Asset Management – has applied to give the complex and Falcon Square a major facelift. Five new restaurants are included as part of the proposals to create a “continental-style” civic square in the heart of the city. A new bar and restaurant would be built on the roof of the Eastgate, offering panoramic views of the Inverness skyline. It is hoped the other four restaurants could open as soon as next summer. They will be built on the ground-floor level, looking across Falcon Square. The Monsoon store, which currently fronts on to Falcon Square, would be moved to another unit inside the centre to make way for the new restaurants. Eastgate Centre manager Jackie Cuddy told the Press and Journal: “It’s really exciting that we have finally got to this point and, subject to planning permission, we are all ready to go. I think it will bring a great vibrancy to the city centre and I don’t think it will have a big effect on other restaurants because it will be different, family-oriented restaurants. We would like to have the ground floor completed by next summer. We’re in strong discussions with a couple of tenants.”

Krispy Kreme makes Ireland expansion a ‘priority’: Krispy Kreme has made expansion into Ireland a ‘”priority” and has set up a wholly-owned Irish subsidiary to manage the venture. British real estate agent Morgan Williams is scouting potential sites for a Hotlight store in Dublin. Tim Edwards, of Morgan Williams, told The Irish Times: “They’re looking at expanding into Ireland. It’s a priority for them. It’s the next obvious place to go... there’s a real push on.” Edwards said “preliminary discussions” had taken place with potential landlords, with Krispy Kreme looking for leasehold sites of about 4,700 square feet capable of accommodating a drive-thru and a minimum of 60 car parking spaces. The investment in the Hotlight store would be more than €1.5m and employ about 50 staff. Once the factory outlet had been established, Edwards said Krispy Kreme would consider smaller format stores in Ireland at airports, train stations or in a city centre unit. Yesterday, Propel reported Krispy Kreme was set to float this week, with Alcuin Capital, the private equity firm that controls Krispy Kreme’s UK arm, gearing up for an initial public offering of the business, which would value the chain at about £200m. Krispy Kreme traces its routes to 1937, when Vernon Rudolph started selling doughnuts in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The business expanded into Britain 13 years ago and the UK arm now sells more than 50 million doughnuts each year from its own shops as well as from self-service cabinets in about 500 Tesco supermarkets and motorway service stations. The British company is owned separately from the US business, which was bought by Germany’s billionaire Reimann family for $1.35bn earlier this year.

Welcome Break wins forecourt award: Motorway services operator Welcome Break’s forecourt team at its Corley North Services has won the Forecourt Trader Motorway Forecourt of the Year 2016 award. The award was presented to the team at The Forecourt Trader of The Year Awards at London’s Hilton Hotel, Park Lane, recognising and rewarding businesses in the petrol retailing industry. The Corley North forecourt team comprises unit business manager June Fessey and 14 team members. Welcome Break chief executive Rod McKie said: “It is wonderful that our brilliant team at Corley North has been recognised for their hard work and dedication in running an outstanding motorway forecourt. There was strong competition for the award from other companies within the industry, which highlights the strength of our team.” Forecourt commercial brand manager Mike Blackwell added: “We have transformed our forecourts in the past year, not just in appearance but in the range of products on offer and the excellent service from our team members. The award is testament to the effort our forecourts team has made to provide the best products and service to our visitors.”

Nudo Sushi Box to continue with growth plans despite raising prices following Brexit vote: Japanese takeaway and cafe Nudo Sushi Box has said it will continue with its growth plans despite having to increase prices ahead of an expected rise in imported product costs following the Brexit vote. The company told Insider Media the increase, which has been brought in across all nine of its sites, was “something we considered very carefully”. It added: “However, it was something that was necessary to the viability of the company following the Brexit vote. The substantial fall in value of the pound means all imported products will have to go up in cost over time, with sushi and fish products being particularly affected by this. Our price changes are proportionate to the circumstances as our primary ethos has always been – and always will be – to provide great-quality, affordable food with the customer at the centre of everything we do. Despite the economic challenges, we’re continuing to work hard to achieve continuous growth and brand awareness while staying true to our core values. Even with these changes, we still offer some of the most competitively priced quality sushi available on the high street.” The company has four sites in Newcastle, three in Manchester and one each in Durham and Sunderland, serving a range of sushi boxes, snacks, hot food and drinks.

Nottingham-based brewer Scribbler’s Ales has plans for second micro-pub refused: Nottingham-based brewery Scribbler’s Ales has had plans to open its second micro-pub refused. The company has had its application for the venue in Abbey Road, West Bridgford, rejected by Rushcliffe Borough Council after neighbours complained about noise and litter pollution. Scribblers Ales wanted to convert the former Mad Dog Sports unit into another of its “Room With a Brew” bars having opened its first in the Canning Circus area of Nottingham, reports The Business Desk. The brewery has tried to allay residents’ fears by saying: “The ethos of the micro-pub is a community-based operation selling our own brewed and other quality real ales, wines and ciders in a relaxed and comfortable environment. There will be none of the usual distractions associated with normal pubs but it will be a place for quiet reading or conversation without having to compete with loud music, television or slot machines. No hot food will be supplied, just traditional bar snacks of crisps, nuts, sausage rolls, pork pies and scratchings.”

Wagamama opens Peterborough city centre restaurant: Wagamama has opened a restaurant in Peterborough city centre. The company has opened the 130-cover venue in Long Causeway on a site formerly occupied by Blacks and Asylum Industries, creating 39 jobs. The restaurant features canteen-style benches as well as breakout areas and booths. Wagamama global brand director Simon Cope told the Peterborough Telegraph: “We are very pleased to open the doors to our new restaurant in Peterborough, where Wagamama will continue to reinforce positive eating by using fresh ingredients, served in atmospheric surroundings. It’s an exciting time for us and we look forward to hearing what our new and valued customers in Peterborough make of our arrival.” Earlier this month, Wagamama reported like-for-like sales rose by 9.8% in the 16 weeks to 14 August, the first quarter of its Fiscal Year 2017. Its credit rating has been upgraded by both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s. The UK like-for-like sales growth followed two strong prior years. The company said it had now traded ahead of the competition for 120 consecutive weeks.

Glasgow-based entrepreneurs acquire third pub for £1.2m: Entrepreneurs Oli Norman and Stephen White have acquired their third Glasgow pub after buying The Griffin for about £1.2m. Norman, who is behind Scotland’s fast-growing Itison daily deals website, and White have bought the site, on the corner of Bath Street and Elmbank Street, from Robert Mullen. The Griffin, which dates to 1903, will relaunch on Wednesday, 28 September after a £300,000 refurbishment, which involves installing a new kitchen, function area and the restoration of original features. Traditionally, there were three distinct areas within the venue – The Griffin (main bar), The Griffin One and The Griffinette. The main area will continue to be called The Griffin but those will be supplemented by two new concepts – a private function area called The Stage Door and The Gin Palace, where Scotland’s best gins will be served in goblets. Norman told Herald Scotland: “It’s a really popular place and it’s fair to say it needed a significant amount of investment. That’s where Stephen and I come in. Our goal is to keep the core essence of what makes The Griffin great, but introduce lots of new products across food and drink.” Our strategy has been really simple, which is to acquire freehold units that are the fabric of Glasgow.” Norman and White also own Brel in Ashton Lane and Sloans in Argyll Arcade.

Peel Hunt – ‘Domino’s Pizza Poland has taken another step towards profitability, plenty of appetite for pizza outside Warsaw’: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Ivor Jones has said Domino’s Pizza Poland has taken another step towards profitability, adding there is plenty of appetite for pizza outside Warsaw. Reiterating the company’s ‘Buy’ rating with a target price of 75p on the shares, Jones said: “Domino’s Pizza Poland has reported its 15th quarter of double-digit like-for-like growth with like-for-like system sales growth in the first half of 2016 of 28% and 24% in July/August. Five stores opened in the period (with another added after the period end) and system sales increased 57%. There are currently 29 stores – 16 corporate and 13 sub-franchised (two corporate stores were sold to franchisees after the period end). Group revenue increased 70% to £3m. Ebitda at the corporate store level doubled (up 104%); commissary gross profit was up 143%. This improved contribution was reinvested in costs to support further growth in store numbers, notably in the expansion team, area managers, and training and distribution costs. The group Ebitda loss improved 6% to £0.7m. There has been some underlying growth in protein prices but overall food costs/revenue improved as a result of increased volume discounts and the efforts of the procurement team. We have increased our revenue forecasts reflecting the strong growth in the first half of 2016 and, since the period end, the circa 11% weakening of sterling relative to the zloty. However, we have left our profit forecasts unchanged as we expect to see continued reinvestment in growing the business. The third sub-franchisee opened its first store in April and its second in June; the fourth sub-franchisee opened its first store in August and two corporate stores have been sold to franchisees this year. We believe the growing credibility of Domino’s Pizza Poland with franchisees will increase its credibility with investors. Domino’s Pizza Poland is now in seven cities, adding three this year. Continued expansion outside the capital validates our view it can build a national business. We believe there will be an inflection point when a solid core of successful sub-franchisees accelerates the growth of the business towards circa 400 stores largely using their own capital. We put our price target under review at the time of the July trading statement. The first-half results have not changed our view of the trajectory of profits but we believe it is clearer that the group has a sustainable business well on the way to critical mass and, in due course, profitability. While our valuation is necessarily somewhat conceptual at this stage, we believe trading momentum will drive the share price further ahead. Domino’s Pizza Poland has released another strong set of results and taken another step towards profitability. We reiterate our ‘Buy’ rating.”

Aberystwyth Pier bought out of administration, current operator to continue to run attraction: The future of Aberystwyth Pier, thought to be the oldest in Wales, has been secured after it was bought out of administration. The pier has been sold to a private pension fund and will continue to be operated and managed by Lee Price. The former owners of the pier, Don Leisure and Don Leisure Holdings, appointed John Kelly and Mark Malone of the Birmingham office of Begbies Traynor on 31 March 2015. Don Leisure and Don Leisure Holdings had been facing winding-up petitions from HMRC as a result of unpaid tax. They had suffered as a result of the storms that affected businesses in the area during the early part of 2014 and had been affected by poor trading at the beginning of 2015. A statement from Begbies Traynor said: “The continued trading has only been possible due to the efforts of general manager Lee Price and his team at the pier and the continued support of the two major charge holders. The joint administrators would like to thank all those involved with supporting this unique Aberystwyth landmark and are pleased it now has the prospects of a more permanent future. We wish the new owners and the team at the pier every success for the future.” The Royal Pier in Aberystwyth was built in 1865 and was shortened from its original length of 794 feet after suffering storm damage.

Pembrokeshire-based leisure operators launch hospitality academy: Pembrokeshire-based leisure operators Neil Kedward and Zoe Agar have launched a hospitality academy. Kedward and Agar, who are behind boutique hotel Grove of Narberth, and restaurants Coast and Beach House, have launched The Seren Academy having teamed up with three south west Wales colleges. Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Gower colleges have signed up to the project for their students to take on work placements across Kedward and Agar’s businesses. Each venue will welcome students on visits to tour the facilities and spend time with the respective management teams, while chefs Will Holland, from Coast, Allister Barsby, from Grove of Narberth, and Hywel Griffith, from Beach House, will become chef ambassadors for the catering colleges. The chefs, together with other members of the respective management teams, will also visit colleges to support the college lecture programme, sharing their knowledge of the sector and career stories as well as cooking with the students on special guest chef evenings. Six bursaries of £400 are also being offered to students to help them through the remainder of their studies, together with full-time work placements throughout the summer months to gain job experience. It is hoped full-time salaried roles will then be offered to students who successfully complete their studies and reach the required standard. Kedward said: “Over the years, we have had a considerable amount of success identifying and developing talented young professionals and we want to continue that work within a structured programme with the colleges. Identifying and inspiring young people and developing their skills properly through quality job experiences is key if the sector is to continue to grow in the region.”

Full speaker schedule for Bar and Nightclub Conference: 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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