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Fri 23rd Sep 2016 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

KPC co-founder – we’ve appetite for further investments in foodservice market, pipeline of sites for 7Bone, plenty of scope for growth for Abokado, Fuel Juice Bars and Inn Collection: The co-founder of private equity firm Kings Park Capital (KPC), which invested in “better burger” restaurant concept 7Bone Burger Co this month, has told Propel it has the appetite to back further foodservice businesses. The company specialises in investments in the leisure industry and has so far acquired stakes in sector companies Abokado, Fuel Juice Bars and Inn Collection as well as 7Bone. And Jason Katz, who founded KPC in 2007 with Hugo Robinson, said it was keen to make further investments in the industry – as long as the companies concerned met four key criteria points. He added: “Pubs and restaurants are a big component of the leisure industry and we are hungry for more investments in this area. We are backed by 70 chief executives, chairmen and owners of businesses in the sector. We look to support ambitious companies and their management teams to help them fulfil their vision and accelerate their growth. We spend a lot of time working with these brands, looking at how we can add tangible value to their business. We look for four things in any business we invest in. They are quality management – it’s all about backing good people; a differentiated product; strong growth potential; and a proven capital model that delivers a strong return on investment. If they have these four attributes, then we are interested.” Katz revealed 7Bone, which has restaurants in Bournemouth and Southampton, had a pipeline of six sites “within a two-and-a-half-hour radius” of its existing outlets. He said: “We think the management team has what it takes, which is focused on regional growth and has a product that can stand up to any other provider. The burger market is enormous and we are backing a brand we believe can take share in a competitive market.” Katz believes there is scope for more than 100 Abokado sites in London before it even considered regional and international growth. He said: “When we backed Abokado it had five sites, now it has 28. There is still plenty of opportunity in London so it makes sense to continue adding units there for the time being. I think there is also scope for it to grow regionally and internationally.” Katz added that Fuel Juice Bars, which has 39 sites, also had an excellent model for growth. He said: “They’ve got sites in shopping centres up and down the country. The great thing is most of these shopping centres are owned by the same landlords so, once you prove your credentials, it gives you a way in to their other sites. We think there’s many years of growth ahead.” Katz said Inn Collection, which has seven sites in Northumberland, was about “maximising all the dayparts”. He added: “As well as food and drink, rooms are also a significant component of revenue. There are now 200 bedrooms across the estate.”

Industry News:

British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) launches People and Training Conference, free places for operators: The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) has launched the People and Training Conference, which will showcase outstanding people culture among companies within the sector. The event, organised in association with Propel Info, takes place at Bafta Piccadilly on Monday, 21 November. Places are free for operators and £149 for suppliers. Jacqui McManus, director of culture and people management at TGI Friday’s, one of Sunday Times’ 100 best companies to work for, will outline the company’s approach to recruitment and retention, staff rewards and recognition, training, and creating a unique company culture. The conference will be followed in the evening by the National Innovation in Training Awards (NITAs) at Cafe De Paris, which will recognise companies and individuals that undertake the best training in the sector. To enter the awards, click here. Tickets to either or both events can be booked through Anne Steele on

Friska founders 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. Ed Brown and Griff Holland, co-founders of healthy eating brand Friska, will outline the company’s approach to ethically sourced healthy food, service, their journey as a company from its south west base, and perspective on the healthy eating market. Pub, restaurant and foodservice operators can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele on or calling her on 01444 817691.

More than 70% of foodservice businesses risking brand damage over supply chain compliance: More than 70% of pub, restaurant and hotel groups in the UK are putting their reputation on the line by focusing on minimising risk at a product level as opposed to monitoring their supplier accreditation information, new research has revealed. Supplier management software company Trade Interchange has explored the challenges and vulnerabilities large businesses in the foodservice and hospitality sectors face when managing supplier and contractual associated risks. The report – “Mind the gap: is your brand’s reputation at risk?” – highlights and provides solutions when it comes to unforeseen threats in the food supply chain. Most notably, the research revealed 60% of respondents use a basic spreadsheet or paper-based systems for recording and updating their crucial supplier information. In doing this, Trade Interchange said operators could expose their business to reputational dangers relating to risks surrounding the Modern Slavery Act, allergen legislation, health and safety practices, and antibiotics in livestock. The research also highlighted only 23% of those questioned recognised the importance of holding supplier information relating to the Modern Slavery Act 2016, despite it being in force since April this year. Trade Interchange co-founder and managing director Mike Edmunds said: “The findings in this report highlight that the reputational risks which come from the ineffective management of suppliers are still underestimated by many. While it’s clear that operators recognise the potential threat inefficiencies in the supply chain can cause to their business’ reputation, there is growing concern this could be undermined by a lack of attention when it comes to managing this information. With new laws, legislation and non-compliances regularly emerging and developing, it is vital businesses in the foodservice and hospitality industries have procedures and software in place to continually monitor and identify risks in their supply chain.” Trade Interchange has designed a cloud-based Arcus platform to mitigate supply chain risk and manage supplier contracts through a variety of integrated modules. The platform is already used by brands such as PizzaExpress, Domino’s and Whitbread to aid risk management at a supplier level.

Wild Restaurant becomes latest independent venue to close in Harrogate, fellow operator calls for help to address sector skills shortage: Fine dining restaurant Wild Restaurant has become the latest independent venue to close in Harrogate, citing a skills shortage in the Yorkshire town. The restaurant was the brainchild of chef Jim Key, a finalist in The Great British Dish television series. Key said he was forced to close the restaurant because he struggled to find skilled people and grow his customer base. In recent weeks, the Van Zeller restaurant closed, with owner Tom Van Zeller complaining about competition from major chains. Following the closure of Wild, local restaurateur Ian Humphreys has called on the council to consider the critical hospitality and skills shortage in the district. Humphreys, co-founder of Harrogate fine dining venue Restaurant 92, said competition from major chains for customers and skilled staff was placing an unbearable burden on many of the town’s top independent restaurants. He told Insider Media: “We are blessed with some fantastic independent fine dining restaurants in Harrogate and there is a great camaraderie between us all. One of the greatest challenges of opening Restaurant 92 and Bacchus Wine Bar this year was to attract and build our current team. The council, colleges and local businesses need to work together to address the skills position.”

Train station openings and rise of micro-pubs steering the great pub revival, says Good Beer Guide editor: Roger Protz, editor of the 2017 edition of the Good Beer Guide published by the Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA), has said the rapid rate of pub openings in “unlikely places” such as train stations and the phenomenal rise of the micro-pub, led by a “new wave of enthusiasts”, is helping to steer the great pub revival. With the battle cry of “you can’t keep the good old British pub down”, Protz pointed to the large number of pub openings in and around train stations as well as the “national phenomenon” of micro-pubs. He said: “JD Wetherspoon plans to open eight new pubs from Scotland down to the West Country. The first is in the former booking office at Edinburgh’s Waverley Station. It’s full steam ahead for pubs in train stations as Waverley joins London’s Euston, Paddington, King’s Cross and St Pancras, all with excellent pubs, along with stations in Newcastle, Sheffield and York.” Regarding the rise of micro-pubs, Protz added: “Micro-pubs have become a national phenomenon. The number has grown to more than 250, with almost half making it into the Good Beer Guide. You can’t keep the good old British pub down. It has always regenerated itself over the centuries and made spirited comebacks after wars and puritan revolutions. Now beer-lovers can enjoy great beer in often amazing and bizarre surroundings as a new wave of enthusiasts ride to the pub’s rescue.” The 44th edition of the Good Beer Guide lists the best 4,500 pubs in the country chosen by its 180,000-plus membership.

Deliveroo takes Flyt to provide partner restaurants with enhanced EPOS integration: Deliveroo has launched a ground-breaking partnership with Flypay that sees the food delivery company become the first to incorporate the new Flyt platform, providing its partner restaurants with enhanced EPOS integration and “hassle-free” order management. Flypay has launched Flyt in a bid to solve a major problem in hospitality technology – how do restaurant, pub and bar operators link their different digital solutions. Through its integration with Flyt, Deliveroo’s orders will feed directly into the EPOS at every enabled location, saving partnering operators time and money. The collaboration will see each online order received through Deliveroo sent directly to the restaurant kitchen. Deliveroo head of sales Nick Green said: “As a company rooted in technology and innovation, we are thrilled to be the inaugural partner in Flyt – a transformative technology platform. Working with Flyt will allow us to streamline our processes for partner restaurants, meaning our riders can deliver from a customer’s favourite restaurant to their door in a shorter amount of time – dramatically improving the experience for restaurants and customers alike.” Flypay chief executive Tom Weaver added: “Deliveroo is all about driving innovation in food delivery and we’re committed to pushing boundaries within hospitality tech, which makes for a great partnership. Our Flyt platform is already integrated with numerous EPOS providers, enabling us to remove a big hassle for operators by directing orders straight to the EPOS system.”

Company News:

Scotland-based Costa Coffee franchisee sold in multimillion-pound deal to former Domino’s Pizza operators: Costa Coffee franchisee Coffeepots, which operates six outlets in Scotland, has been sold in a multimillion-pound deal. The company, run by Dennis and Kathryn Evans, has been acquired by CP Properties, which is owned by Colin Wilson and Pat Dunese, who, until very recently, ran Domino’s Pizza outlets in the Glasgow area. The Evans were early adopters of the Costa brand, starting their business a decade ago. In subsequent years they developed six stores, mainly in shopping centres and retail parks rather than traditional high-street locations, employing 85 staff. The stores are in the Glasgow area between Greenock in the west and Falkirk in the east. CP Properties, which has been able to neatly switch its senior management team from operating Domino’s to running the newly acquired Costa business, plans to continue growing the business and the Costa brand in Scotland. Accountancy and business advisory firm Smith Cooper advised on the deal.

Wine Inns reports return to profit: Wine Inns, which runs 12 bars and nightclubs in Belfast and is led by Patrick Hunt, has reported a return to profit despite a drop in turnover. The company saw turnover fall to £13,940,707 for the year ending 31 December 2015, compared with £14,330,610 the year before, according to accounts filed with Companies House. It reported a pre-tax profit of £54,569, compared with a loss of £326,524 the previous year. The company stated: “The company experienced a challenging year in difficult economic conditions. Whilst the directors expect a difficult trading year ahead, they will continue to seek every opportunity to increase turnover and profitability where possible.”

BrewDog finishes Columbus brewery build ahead of first US AGM, fund-raise reaches 49 of 50 states: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has completed the main construction of its 100,000 square foot brewery in Columbus, Ohio, ahead of its debut US AGM on Saturday (24 September). The company added that its Equity for Punks USA fund-raise had now seen investment from people in 49 of 50 US states. Staff are just about to move into offices at the site, while awaiting a “third container-load of brewery gear from Esau & Hueber to clear customs” to finish off installation of the 200HL/170-barrel brewhouse. The on-site BrewDog bar – DogTap Columbus – has yet to be finished but the brewery’s exterior features more than “2,000 square feet of mural”. The #PunkAGMUSA will feature bands, food trucks and craft beer and is being thrown for investors in its US fund-raise, as well as Equity Punks from further afield. The company is aiming to raise $50m by selling 1,052,632 shares of stock in BrewDog USA for £47.50 per share. BrewDog stated on its blog: “We can now count new BrewDog Equity Punks in every single US state with a single exception (North Dakota). More details will be revealed on Saturday, when all roads in the US – even from North Dakota – lead to Columbus, Ohio.”

Brewhouse & Kitchen to reopen former Wetherspoon pub in Chester next month: Brewhouse & Kitchen, the expanding brewhouse concept led by Simon Bunn and Kris Gumbrell, will reopen The Forest House in Chester next month. The company acquired the freehold of the pub in Love Street from JD Wetherspoon in May as part of a three-batch purchase alongside The Bollin Fee in Wilmslow and the Bankers Draft in Bedford, which have already reopened. The Chester site will reopen on Monday, 3 October following a radical transformation of the late 18th century building. Brewhouse & Kitchen is currently interviewing for a brewer to run the pub’s in-house micro-brewery and deliver master classes. The menu will feature popular pub fare such as burgers, ribs and steaks. Brewhouse & Kitchen operates 15 pubs, including sites in Sutton Coldfield, Cheltenham, Bristol, Bournemouth, Islington, Portsmouth and Poole. The sale of Forest House was part of a nationwide sell-off of 34 JD Wetherspoon outlets worth an estimated £40m. General manager Dan Grist told The Chester Chronicle: “Brewhouse & Kitchen is about great ale, great food and great people as well. It’s about having the knowledge in your team to make sure guests enjoy themselves but also to know about every beer we sell.”

Bourgee to fire up expansion with Chelmsford launch: Steak and lobster restaurant Bourgee will start expansion when it opens its second site, this time in Chelmsford on Saturday, 1 October. Bourgee, which launched its first restaurant in Southend in 2014, plans to roll-out its “affordable luxury” recipe with the opening in Chelmsford’s new £3m dining quarter. The 120-cover restaurant will be spread over two floors, with a bar on each floor. The company, founded by Great British Menu chef Mark Baumann and director James Welling, has further openings in the pipeline for 2017 in Bury St Edmunds and Norwich. Baumann said: “Bourgee offers a premium dining experience that is accessible to all. Outside the major cities, most people’s experience of steak is cheap, rubbish cuts. We are on a quest to change that. We want everyone to experience the best without having to pay the earth for it. The talented team of chefs cook the meat on a specialist Josper grill, while diners are given graphite blades imported from Germany to cut the meat without tearing.” Welling added: “Chelmsford is just the start. For us, it’s so much more than delivering steak and lobster, we’re giving diners a unique, premium experience at a price they won’t baulk at.” Chelmsford’s dining quarter at the High Chelmer shopping centre also features Carluccio’s, French brasserie Cote and Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay.

Loungers signs deal to open Cosy Club in Lincoln: Cafe brand Loungers has agreed a deal to open a Cosy Club in Lincoln. The company has signed for the new £12m Cornhill development in the city, which is set to open next summer. It will be joined by Danish home and general store Flying Tiger Copenhagen and suit hire company Moss Bros. The grade II-listed Corn Exchange building will house five brands in total once complete. Cosy Club managing director Jake Bishop told the Lincolnshire Echo: “The magnificent grade II-listed Corn Exchange building caught our eye as it fits in perfectly with our ‘mansion splendour meets village eccentricity’ ways. We like every customer to leave ‘feeling splendid’, which we’re confident will be the case at this beautiful building. We will also be in a prime position in the heart of one of the UK’s leading retail and leisure destinations as well as in one of the most exciting historic and up-and-coming cities in the country. I can’t wait for our grand opening bash.” Loungers operates 15 Cosy Clubs in the UK, with its next due to open in Liverpool in December.

Benugo lined up to run proposed new cafe in Primrose Hill: Cafe-deli and restaurant operator Benugo is being lined up to run a proposed cafe in Primrose Hill, London. The Royal Parks has applied to Camden Council to renovate the building next to the playground at the bottom of the hill into the outlet. The works would include landscaping and removing metal railings and gates to provide clearer access to the cafe and public toilets. The Royal Parks said the cafe would improve on the “limited offer” of the Benugo food truck, which serves only cold food and hot drinks. Benugo was embroiled in controversy earlier this year when it was forced to pull out of its planned takeover of family-run Hampstead Heath cafes following a public outcry. However, Ianthe Williams, who chairs the Friends of Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill, said it seemed a “fair deal” that Benugo would run the cafe, because it would replace its food truck. A Royal Parks spokeswoman told the Camden New Journal: “Primrose Hill is being served by a mobile food truck with a limited offer that does not meet the demand of park users.”

CG Restaurants & Bars signs deal to open first regional Dirty Martini site, in Cardiff: CG Restaurants & Bars has signed a 25-year lease to open the first regional site for its Dirty Martini brand, in Cardiff. The company has agreed a deal with landlord Legal & General for the former Maddison site in St Mary Street, which will have capacity for 700 and create 65 jobs. A circa £1.2m refurbishment is under way at the 10,000 square foot venue, which will feature a central bar, artwork and areas available for hire. Dirty Martini chief executive Scott Matthews told Business News Wales: “When we decided to open in Cardiff, we wanted to ensure we were located in the heart of Cardiff’s nightlife. The former Maddison site was an ideal location, providing us with plenty of scope to redesign the venue. We are excited and can’t wait to open.” Will Edwards, fund manager at Legal & General, added: “We are delighted to have completed a letting to Dirty Martini, marking the completion of the first stage of our asset management strategy for the property. We now only have the basement space to let.” Dirty Martini has nine sites in London and is expected to hit sales of £13.5m in 2016.

Chipotle launches campaign to highlight food safety improvements: Chipotle has launched a marketing campaign outlining the scope of its food-safety improvements in an attempt to halt falling sales following last year’s foodborne illness outbreaks. In a video on the company’s website, Chipotle chairman Steve Ells describes eight ways the chain has boosted food-safety protocols, stating: “In 2015, we failed to live up to our own food-safety standards and, in so doing, we let our customers down. In late 2015, I made a promise to all our customers we would become an industry leader in food safety. In keeping with that promise, we’ve made advancements that have reinvented the way we manage our entire supply chain and care for our customers in our restaurants.” Ells said the new initiatives included an electronic tracking system to follow ingredients through the supply system; new handling procedures at restaurants; increased inspections by internal and third-party teams; and the establishment of a food-safety advisory council, Nation’s Restaurant News reports. Chipotle has been struggling throughout 2016 to reverse the sharp decline in traffic at its 2,000 US restaurants following the illness outbreaks. The company has offered discounts and promotions throughout the year and also launched a summer loyalty programme. Same-store sales fell 23.6% in the second quarter, including a 19% drop in traffic, which was an improvement on the near 30% decline in the first quarter this year.

D&D London reopens Chelsea restaurant Bluebird following £2m refurbishment: D&D London has reopened its Bluebird restaurant in King’s Road, Chelsea, following a £2m refurbishment. The art deco landmark was built in 1923 as a garage for 300 cars, including the Bluebird in which Sir Malcolm Campbell broke the land speed record. The new interior pays homage to the building’s heritage and the atrium’s original steel frame has been refreshed with bold red paint. The central bar has been designed using stainless-steel bumpers and topped with marble, while two mini petrol pumps serve cocktails. The dining room features mature trees, climbing plants and wildflowers, while a floor-to-ceiling drape can be drawn between the bar and restaurant to create a semi-private dining space. Bluebird also has four private dining rooms. The menu by executive head chef Liam Smith-Laing, formerly of Gordon Ramsay’s Petrús and Marcus Wareing at The Savoy Grill, features “simple, fresh and honest dishes inspired by the best of modern European cooking”. The cocktail menu includes the 301, made with Portobello Road Gin and served theatrically in a miniature Bluebird car. There are also mocktails and a wine list with an emphasis on sparkling, English and natural wines.

Pizza Hut appoints its first chief customer officer as part of plans to put consumers first: Pizza Hut has appointed Helen Vaid as its first chief customer officer, a newly created executive position, as part of plans to put customers first and give them a stronger voice. Vaid will oversee “transformation of the Pizza Hut in-restaurant and digital customer experience”, with a large part of her job focusing on digital ordering, which the chain sees as its largest growth opportunity. She will also oversee the brand’s international e-commerce, technology and operations segments. Pizza Hut International president Milind Pant told Investopedia: “One of the key priorities for Pizza Hut has always been putting the customer experience at the heart of everything we do and we think the addition of Helen will represent an even bigger step-change for Pizza Hut all over the world. To truly provide the best customer experience possible, we must make it easier to get a better pizza by boldly approaching the online and offline experience as a whole, and Helen’s experience and thought leadership matches perfectly with this vision.”

Boma opens Putney Bridge brasserie, third London site: Neighbourhood brasserie and bar Boma has opened a restaurant at Putney Bridge, its third London site. Boma Bridge in Putney High Street offers seasonal world food, with dishes including roasted bone marrow with barley demi, pickled chilli, shallots and sourdough; stuffed spinach wraps with rice noodles, bean sprouts and pickled daikon; and hake fillet with Jerusalem artichoke purée, fennel, piperade and lardoons. Desserts include warm beignets with salted caramel and chantilly cream, Hot Dinners reports. Boma’s other restaurants are in Wandsworth Bridge and Parson’s Green but the new venue is the first to feature a late-night space – a cocktail bar and private dining room for larger groups. Boma is the brainchild of Kieran Monteiro, Austin Eyre and Adam de Kock. A boma is a “safe enclosure” in eastern and southern Africa, and encompasses how the owners feel a restaurant experience should be – relaxed, comfortable and welcoming.

Street food duo Butchies launches first permanent site, in Camden: Street food duo Garrett and Emer Fitzgerald, known for their fried chicken pop-up Butchies, have opened their first permanent site – Butchies’ Hatch – in Camden Market. The Fitzgeralds aim to build on the huge following Butchies has built at its Broadway Market stall. Butchies cooks its free-range chicken using a pressure fryer, making it extra juicy. The new restaurant will offer a choice of five chicken sandwiches served in a soft butter-toasted bun. All the sandwiches are named after television and movie characters from the 1980s and 1990s, including The Clarice Starling (with buffalo sauce, blue cheese slaw and pickles); and The Clancy Wiggum (smoked streaky bacon, guacamole and smoked chilli mayo). There is also a vegetarian option – The Margot (halloumi, guacamole and smoked chilli mayo) – as well as sides such as twice-cooked fries, cheese fries with red Leicester cheese dripping, and hot wings in buffalo sauce and blue cheese dip. Butchies’ Hatch is open daily from 11am to 10pm.

Turkish and Mediterranean restaurant concept Ottoman Grill to launch in Exeter city centre next week: New Turkish and Mediterranean restaurant concept Ottoman Grill will launch in Exeter city centre next week. The venue in Guinea Street will open on Monday (26 September) and is the brainchild of the Demir family. The 60-cover restaurant will occupy the former site of Dinky’s Play Café, which closed in June. Huseyin Demir, a chef with 30 years’ experience, will run the kitchen, with a hand-made copper barbecue and wood-fired ovenkey as the restaurant’s centrepiece. He told the Express & Echo: “It’s one of a kind in the south west. The nearest one I know of is in London. People will be able to sit around it and watch their food being cooked.” Ottoman Grill has been granted a premises licence by Exeter City Council for the sale of alcohol from 11am to 11pm every day.

Numis – ‘M&B shows strong summer trading but full-year estimates remain unchanged’: Numis Securities leisure analyst Tim Barrett has said Mitchells & Butlers has shown strong summer trading but full-year estimates remain unchanged. Issuing a ‘Hold’ note on the shares with a target price of 268p, Barrett said: “Like-for-like growth of 1.8% compares with -1.3% in weeks one to 43, and suggests the acceleration evident in weeks 29 to 43 (-0.7%) has continued. A smaller contribution from new openings means total sales also fell by 0.8%, to £2,084m. This is slightly below our forecast of £2,102m and means any uplift from like-for-like sales is offset elsewhere. Warm weather in early September would have been a significant boost to sales, evident in much-stronger performance of drinks (+3.7%) over food (+0.4%) in the last eight weeks. On margins, guidance is unchanged – that is, a reduction in FY16 as a result of investment and wage inflation. This is likely to continue in FY17. Our FY16 forecasts imply 40 basis points of margin attrition, followed by 80 basis points in FY17. Mitchells & Butlers’ main strategy for addressing weak like-for-likes is investment-led. In the past two years circa 400 pubs – or 24% of the estate – have been invested in. Sales uplift in remodelled sites remains about 10%, we estimate. Interestingly, uninvested sites have shown a relative outperformance (possibly reflecting menu changes and other operational improvements). The triennial pension review is under way and we expect an update with FY results in November. This remains a threat in our view, with the mark-to-market possibly increasing to £709m at March 2017 and by a further £200m thereafter. For FY17 we currently assume a return to modest like-for-like sales growth (0.5%) but with ongoing pressure on margins (-80 basis points). After a strong fourth quarter, we see risk to the upside, but by a maximum of 100 basis points (circa 4% on earnings per share). Mitchells & Butlers trades on a CY17 price-to-earnings ratio of 8.0 times, EV/Ebitda of 8.9 times and free cash flow yield of 9.8% (but note the potential deterioration in pension deficit gives EV/Ebitda of 9.7 times and free cash flow yield of 8.1% marked-to-market).”

CH&Co Group’s specialist City arm Lusso appoints operations director: Lusso, the specialist City caterer and part of the CH&Co Group, has appointed Sharon Linney as operations director in a move reflecting the business’ period of significant growth. Linney will be responsible for a portfolio of Lusso’s clients in the City and central London, overseeing a team of three operations managers. She joins Lusso from The Brookwood Partnership, where she was operations director. Prior to this she held operations director roles at Bartlett Mitchell and a social enterprise company, and enjoyed a 20-year career of progression through the ranks at Aramark. Lusso managing director Paul Hurren said: “Lusso is currently in a period of significant growth and it’s vital we have the right team and resources in place to continue the growth curve, while ensuring we deliver on our promise of providing delicious, innovative and sustainable food, supported by excellent service. Sharon is a fantastic asset to the team and her experience and proven reputation for growing client relationships and retaining business will ensure we’re well placed for continued success.” Linney added: “It’s a fantastic brand in a very strong position of growth and I’m thrilled to be part of the team to continue to develop the business and drive it forward. Being a smaller, unique business, supported by a great group, makes Lusso a very attractive proposition. It enables individuality to be retained and attention to be paid to what matters, doing the very best job possible for our clients and delivering continued excellence.”

Interbev Brands triples portfolio within six months of launch: Interbev Brands, the international brand management division of Interbev that launched fewer than six months ago to distribute, license and produce drinks from international and boutique manufacturers, has tripled its product portfolio. The portfolio now spans nine beer, six spirit and three cider brands along with a soft natural mineral water brand. New partner announcements for both UK and international distribution include Crafter’s London Dry Gin and Estonian premium beer Viru. Interbev founder and owner Steve Brogan said: “Interbev Brands’ proposition is to build and manage a unique range of fresh and exciting products to satisfy the growing appetite for premium brands with today’s consumers. We are thrilled our range has grown to cover both the premium and mass categories. Our brand partners comprise independent and often family-owned businesses – dominant in their local markets – who want to work with like-minded partners who are flexible, dynamic and gutsy to build their brands internationally.”

Berkmann Wine Cellars to become exclusive UK agent for New Zealand’s Mahi Wines: Berkmann Wine Cellars will become New Zealand producer Mahi Wines’ exclusive agent in the UK from Saturday, 1 October. The range will feature a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, alongside single vineyard wines Boundary Farm Sauvignon Blanc and Twin Valleys Chardonnay. Berkmann Wine Cellars purchasing director Alex Hunt said: “We are delighted to welcome Mahi Wines to our portfolio. What struck us in particular was the texture of these wines; while far from heavy, they have a sense of substance that places them among the very best in Marlborough.” Mahi Wines owner Brian Bicknell added: “We make wines to be shared at the table so Berkmann’s strength and expertise in the premium on-trade, alongside such an impressive line-up of quality family producers, makes them an ideal partner.” Berkmann’s New Zealand portfolio also includes Coopers Creek, Julicher Estate, Mount Holdsworth, and Bannockburn Bridge.

Showcase Cinemas operator pushes turnover towards £100m, doubles pre-tax profit: The UK arm of the company that operates Showcase Cinemas, which has 20 sites across the UK, has pushed turnover towards the £100m mark and almost doubled pre-tax profit. Newly filed results for NATL Amusements (UK) revealed turnover of £94.7m in the year to 31 December 2015, up from £81.8m in the 12 months to 1 January 2014. Pre-tax profit also climbed to £2.7m from £1.4m a year earlier. A statement filed with the results said NATL had invested in “digital and technological innovation” across its Showcase estate, including the installation of IMAX, 3D and large-screen formats. It has also introduced luxury seating concepts and more food and drink offerings, reports Business Insider. The statement added that directors expect the present level of activity to be sustained for the “foreseeable future”. Showcase has cinemas in Liverpool, Bristol, Derby, Dudley, Cardiff, Coventry, Manchester, Newham, Peterborough, Teesside, Walsall, Glasgow and Paisley. Its “De Lux” branches are in Derby, Leeds, Leicester, Bristol, Nottingham, Reading and Kent’s Bluewater shopping centre. NATL Amusements (UK) is part of National Amusements, a US group that operates 850 screens across the UK, US, Argentina and Brazil.

Savills markets Isle of Wight country house estate for £3m: Agent Savills, on behalf of the joint administrators James William Stares and Rupert Graham Mullins, of Rothmans Recovery, is selling The Priory Bay Estate in Seaview on the Isle of Wight for a guide price in excess of £3m. Set in 48 acres, the estate benefits from a private beach and houses a total of 44 bedrooms. The grade-II listed country house offers 18 suites/bedrooms, with additional letting accommodation in converted barn and cottage developments. There are two restaurants within the property, as well as tennis courts, a six-hole golf course and a helipad. Savills said the self-contained nature of the estate, with its extensive grounds and views over the Solent, made it an “ideal destination for weddings and conferences”. Situated to the south of Seaview, Priory Bay is 3.5 miles from Ryde and its ferry links to Portsmouth. Seaview is a popular tourist destination on the eastern side of the Isle of Wight and benefits from strong summer trade. Martin Rogers, head of UK hotel transactions at Savills, said: “The Priory Bay Estate offers a unique opportunity to the buyer – its location and heritage sets it apart from other hotels on the island. It offers a range of income streams from two restaurants and weddings and conference facilities, providing year-round business.” The affairs, business and property of Peartime, trading as The Priory Bay Hotel (in administration), are managed by James Stares and Rupert Mullins, the joint administrators, who act as agents of the company and without personal liability.

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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