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Mon 26th Sep 2016 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Kout Food Group puts leasehold of Cha Cha Moon on market: Kout Food Group has put the leasehold of its Asian fusion noodle bar Cha Cha Moon in London on the market. The venue, which is located in Kingly Court, Soho, and was created by Wagamama founder Alan Yau, is being marketed by agent Christie & Co. The move ends Kout Food Group’s hopes of turning Cha Cha Moon into a national brand – it still turns over circa £2m a year at its one site, eight years after it opened. The premises, spread over the ground and first floors of a three-storey terrace, currently cater for 165 covers across communal tables and benches with an open kitchen to the rear. It has access to both Ganton Street and Kingly Court with external seating areas at both frontages and currently offers fast-casual Asian dishes for both eat in and takeaway. In its most recent financial results, turnover at Cha Cha Moon fell by 5% to £1,990,000 for the year to 31 December 2014. Operating losses increased by £90,000 to £587,000, mainly due to “market conditions”. Kout Food Group, which operates Little Chef as well as Burger King, KFC, Costa and Subway franchises, has decided to sell the lease to focus on other business interests. Simon Chaplin, head of restaurants at Christie & Co, said: “The Carnaby Street area has evolved into a destination retail and hospitality location which attracts some 44 million visitors a year. Kingly Court is a great draw in its own right having been developed by the landlords, Shaftesbury Estates, into a multi-level dining venue with many new and innovative operators located within it. This is possibly one of the most exciting restaurant sites that has come on to the market in recent years – opportunities for operators to acquire premises in London’s West End are extremely scarce. We therefore expect high interest and fierce competition from both independent and corporate operators both nationally and internationally.” Christie & Co is seeking offers in excess of £700,000 for the leasehold interest with all fixtures and fittings and an annual rent of £410,000. The first round of offers is sought by Tuesday, 25 October.

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. David Mansbridge, director of training and compliance at bar and restaurant operator Living Ventures, talks about the company’s approach to recruitment, people development, retention, fostering first-class service standards and creating a unique company culture centred on its staff. 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

Thai Leisure Group managing director 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. Ian Leigh, managing director of Thai Leisure Group, operator of Chaophraya and Thaikhun, will share how the company is successfully retaining its unique company culture whilst moving forward its brands and rolling out eight sites per year. Pub, restaurant and foodservice operators can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele on or calling her on 01444 817691.

BBPA – UK beer duty has risen 54% in past 15 years, 1,300 more breweries: UK beer duty is 54% higher than it was in 2000, despite recent cuts to the rate, while the number of breweries during the same period has risen by 1,380, according to the latest Statistical Handbook from the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA). The association said the data showed much more work was required to cut beer duty in the UK, with the country’s rate still 14 times that of Germany. Overall UK consumption of alcohol per head remained stable during 2015 and is now 18% lower than its peak level in 2004. Across the EU, alcohol consumption has remained broadly flat, with some countries, the UK included, seeing declines in per-head consumption. When it comes to beer, UK consumption is below the EU average, of about 72 litres per head, per year. Estonia, Luxembourg and the Czech Republic consume the most alcohol per head of population. Cask ale made up 8.2% of the total beer market, starting to reverse the significant shift from ales and stouts to lagers observed during the past 40 years. BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “Many of the figures detailed in our updated Stats Handbook are encouraging for our industry, but the UK’s high duty rate on beer is still a cause for concern. We will continue to work with the government to bring our rate more in line with other European nations and help better support our industry.”

Mobile payment and location app for London’s independent cafes launches £200,000 crowdfunding campaign: Drip App, a mobile payment and location app for London’s independent cafes to help them compete against global chains, has launched a £200,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Seedrs. The company, led by Ruben Grigri and Jeremy Cortial, is offering an 11.77% equity stake in return for the investment. The pitch states: “By uniting independent coffee spots, DripApp is creating a single, powerful network of independents to disrupt the corporate dominance of high street chains. We bring cafes new customers, help them with marketing and PR and save them money by getting deals and discount on supplies. We currently have 300 coffee shop partners across London. We are seeking investment in order to improve our product; add food ordering; add single-drink purchase option; launch the business-to-business platform, from where our partner shops can purchase supplies and save money; aggressively grow our customer base; and grow the DripApp team to include online marketing, customer support and developer roles.”
WorkOut launches development course for licensed hospitality sector:
WorkOut Developments has launched a new course for the licensed hospitality sector. The WorkOut course will take place on 3 and 4 November at Hothorpe Hall, Leicestershire, promising to “accelerate strategic awareness and leadership insight in an intensely interactive business environment for emerging leaders in any function in hospitality companies”. Nick Bish, founder of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers Operations Managers Awards, who is also involved in the new course, said: “WorkOut is exactly what has been missing in the hospitality sector. Under the expert guidance of Chris Nichols, the highly regarded strategy and leadership coach and consultant, we will help attendees to think differently, to review business situations and to take back new insights and approaches that work for their teams and for their companies.” For more details go to
ONS – July produced record tourism numbers: July was the best month ever for inbound tourism to the UK with 3.8 million visits, up 2% when compared with the same month last year, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). It also found overseas visitors spent £2.5bn in July – a 4% rise when compared with July 2015. It was also a record-breaking month for inbound visitors from EU countries – the UK’s largest visit-generating region – with a 3% increase on last year to 2.3 million visits. There was strong growth from North America, which includes the UK’s most valuable visitor market, the US, as visits grew 5% to 580,000. Meanwhile visits from the “rest of the world” were up 6% to 790,000. The figures bring inbound visits for the year so far to 21.1 million – up 2% on the same period last year and a record year-to-date. Spending during this period was £11.7bn. Tracey Crouch, tourism minister, said: “Britain is a world-class visitor destination with our stunning countryside, historic buildings and vibrant culture scene attracting a record number of visits from around the globe. Tourism makes an enormous contribution to our economy and we will continue to support the industry to ensure it thrives and that growth in the sector benefits the whole country.” The figures follow on from a record-breaking 2015 for visits and spend in Britain, with 36.1 million visits – 5% up on 2014 – and spending up 1% to £22.1bn.
JD Wetherspoon to axe Christmas dinners: JD Wetherspoon is to end selling Christmas dinners a few months after scrapping Sunday roasts. Turkey and trimmings meals won’t be served this December for the first time. Customers wanting a festive meal will have to have a yuletide beef burger, turkey pie or vegetarian Wellington. There will also be a Christmas buffet for work parties, but that will be made up of options like turkey salad wraps or turkey and bacon paninis. Sunday roasts were axed after pub managers argued it was not possible to serve the meals alongside breakfasts and do both to a high standard. A source told The Daily Mirror: “It was bad enough the aggro we got from our customers when we took roast dinners off the menu. Now we are expecting a full-scale mutiny when they find out about this. It has been a traditional part of Wetherspoon’s life since we founded in 1979 for all our loyal customers to come and have their office parties or family groups enjoy a turkey roast dinner with us each year. But this will put a damp squib on it for many when they find out that there will be no traditional roast on offer this year.” Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “Wetherspoon will not be serving a ‘traditional dinner’ in its pubs this year. However its pubs will still be serving a range of Christmas meals, all day, every day from November 15 to December 22 inclusive. A number of high street restaurant operators don’t offer a Christmas roast but do offer meals that are Christmas-based and Wetherspoon is taking a similar approach.”
ALMR – nightclub sector still vibrant: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers has argued the nightclub sector is still vibrant despite Mintel figures showing a 21% decline in revenues in the past five years. Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “We have seen decline in the number of outlets and a reduction in capacity over the past five years so we would expect a corresponding decline in revenue. Despite this, however, there are still nightclubs experiencing success, innovating and drawing a significant number of customers and undergoing investment. At the higher end of the market, capital expenditure is at +4%. We have also seen real growth in outlet numbers and some sense of stability return to the club sector following a few years of decline. Five years ago door revenue was at a low of 12% of turnover, a figure that has risen to 21% this year. Licensed hospitality as a whole also faces legislative pressure and increasing wage and property costs along with the constant distraction of very cheap supermarket alcohol. Nightclubs face a challenge, but there is the potential to be a success if local authorities are co-operative and see their value and treat them as assets. Businesses that innovate and take advantage of newer tastes and growing trends towards food can look to capitalise on what is still a vibrant and dynamic sector.”

Company News:

Enterprise Inns urges suppliers to embrace pub segmentation: Enterprise Inns has urged suppliers across the industry to embrace the company’s segmentation model by providing solutions that best fit the individual pubs’ retail offer. Industry suppliers were told segmentation was at the forefront of the company’s thinking, helping to drive investment, deliver the retail model and better target marketing and promotional activity. Delegates at Enterprise’s annual supplier conference in Northampton were encouraged to understand the company’s 12 segments and target their offer accordingly. Enterprise’s sales and marketing director James Armitage said there were opportunities for suppliers to support the company’s rolling 18-month sales and marketing plan, but rather than think of the business as the UK’s largest pub company with an estate of about 5,000 pubs, they should consider the 12 segments in order to target the right offer to the right pub. “It shouldn’t be one size fits all, you need to think about where your products and services best support the pub’s retail offer,” added Armitage. Suppliers heard the segmentation tool had also provided an added benefit in supporting Enterprise’s publican recruitment drive. An ideal publican profile had been created for every segment and potential candidates could be more accurately targeted through bespoke marketing activity. In separate presentations from Enterprise’s procurement director Miles Selby and senior procurement manager Paul Hine, suppliers heard how the company is evolving their ways of working with suppliers. Updated policies covering risk management, ethical business practices and the tender process had all been introduced and suppliers would need to demonstrate how they could support Enterprise’s revenue growth and bring service and cost efficiencies. All suppliers were encouraged to “bring ideas to the table” and would have an opportunity to take part in a supplier survey, which Enterprise said would help identify how it could further improve its effectiveness and working relationships.
Founder of new London grab-and-go poke concept concentrating on getting model right before considering expansion: The founder of a new grab-and-go poké concept opening in London next month has told Propel he is concentrating on “getting the model right” before considering expansion elsewhere in the capital. James Gould-Porter is launching Island Poké in Kingly Street, Soho, in mid-October. The concept is based on build-your-own bowls of Hawaiian-style raw fish, a craze that has swept the US. Backed by White Rabbit Fund, the restaurant investment platform of former Soho House Group commercial director Chris Miller, the venue will serve Hawaiian-style sashimi straight from the Pacific, fresh Acai (breakfast) bowls as well as 100% Hawaiian Kona coffee. The site will have about 15 covers as it focuses on a grab-and-go format. Gould-Porter said: “My father is from southern California and we spent many summers in Hawaii. My first taste of authentic poké was in Maui when I was nine, which stuck with me and led me to quit my job in the art market and take poké to the streets of London. We were looking for someone to come on board and back us and that’s when we met Chris. He really brought into the whole concept and we’re incredibly excited to open our first bricks n’ mortar site. The fish will be the key player – we really want to showcase it. It’s about highlighting the authenticity of the dish and the quality of the seafood. At the moment we are concentrating on getting the ball rolling – we don’t want to run before we can walk. If there is an opportunity to grow we would take it but first we need to get the model right here and once we’ve done that we can see where it will go.”
Laine Pub Company to launch new brewery this week: The Laine Pub Company, backed by Luke Johnson and which operates four micro-breweries among its 48-strong London and Brighton pub estate, will upscale its craft brewing capability when it opens its new brewery this week. The 65-hectolitre (40 BBLs) plant will open on Friday (30 September) in the Sussex Downs on an ancient Roman road that ran between London Bridge and Chichester. Laine’s greatly enhanced beer business will be led by Jack Hibberd, previously commercial director at Truman’s Brewery. He said: “I was amazed by the individuality, creativity and independent spirit of Laine’s pubs when I came here and I see it as our task to deliver a range of beers that complements these engaging drinking environments.” Chief executive Gavin George added: “Moving towards a more vertically integrated business has benefits for a company that operates a retail estate such as ours – but the potential for enhancing customer experience through craft beer from this new facility is what we are really excited about.”
Barrel & Stone raises £300,000 in SEIS and EIS eligible funds via Asset Match: Barrel & Stone has raised its £300,000 fund-raising SEIS and EIS round in record time via Asset Match, the UK’s leading platform for buying and selling shares in private companies. The fundraise began on 8 September and took only ten working days to complete, beating the speed of Asset Match’s previous record fund-raise by a sizeable margin. Barrel & Stone is an artisan pizza company founded in 2015 when co-founder Russell Hardiman became frustrated with the quality of high street pizza offerings. The business model is to provide a quick, simple and cost-effective food offering service via partnerships with pubs, hotels and “just about anywhere willing to serve great tasting pizza”. Hardiman said: “We have been overwhelmed with the speed of the raise as well as the quality of investors Asset Match brought to the table. The raise allows us to keep up with an increased demand and we look forward to returning favourable gains to our new shareholders as well as exceeding our target of 250 sites.” The money raised will be used to drive rapid expansion and extend brand awareness. The pace of site roll-outs has been bolstered by Barrel & Stone signing a retail partnership with Greene King to roll-out its premium pizza concept to a number of Greene King pub partners in the UK over the next four years. Stuart Lucas, of Asset Match, said: “Asset Match is proud to have provided Barrel & Stone the opportunity to grow and expand from what has been an emphatic beginning. We are also pleased to have offered Asset Match users the opportunity to invest in such an exciting growth company. Barrel & Stone is a virtual model and suitably disruptive. We were very impressed with the management team and the company has great prospects.”
Coffee#1 wins Cafe Life Regional Coffee Chain of the Year for 2016: SA Brain’s coffee chain Coffee#1 has been awarded Cafe Life’s Regional Coffee Shop Chain of the Year. The brand, which operates a portfolio of 69 coffee shops located in Wales and the south west and south of England, was recognised at the awards for its “all-round coffee experience”. Coffee#1 saw off fierce competition including from Bristol-based Boston Tea Party. Judged by a panel of industry professionals, the Cafe Life awards recognise excellence and innovation in the UK cafe and coffee bar sectors by highlighting those who are pioneering and leading the market, whether in the development of new products or the creation of excellence in the high street. Scott Waddington, Coffee#1 chief executive, said: “This is thoroughly well deserved recognition for the outstanding Coffee#1 team, which has set an exacting focus on product delivery, customer service and operating standards during the past 12 months. Our strategy of whole heartedly concentrating on our customer has served us well in the past year and will continue to do so in the portfolio of stores already in our pipeline for the next 12 months.” Jo Hamilton-Welsman, Coffee#1 operations manager, added: “I am delighted for the Coffee#1 team that has secured this award. I never cease to be impressed by the skill and dedication of our baristas and their approach to providing warm, inviting customer service. Our unique brand is creating high levels of customer and employee interest and I am confident that Coffee#1 will increasingly be seen as the best employer within the sector.”
Wogan’s sons to open Homeslice pizza restaurant at redeveloped BBC Television Centre: Better pizza brand Homeslice, founded by Sir Terry Wogan’s sons Mark and Alan, will open a site next year at a building close to their hearts – the redeveloped BBC Television Centre in Shepherd’s Bush, west London. Television Centre is being transformed into a £1bn complex with 950 apartments, a hotel, a private members’ club and gym run by Soho House, an Electric cinema, restaurants and offices, as well as television studios. Alan Wogan said: “We’ve got emotional ties with the place. Obviously ours is a very different business from the one dad was in and we are very proud of his achievements there. It would have been nice if he’d known we were going to open a restaurant where he spent so much of his career. He would have been thrilled.” Other venues opening at Television Centre include a Mediterranean tapas bar from London restaurant company Salt Yard Group, Soho House Italian brand Cecconi’s, and better burger brand Patty & Bun. Salt Yard founder Simon Mullins said the development – part of an £8bn regeneration of the Wood Lane area – “ticked all the boxes” for restaurateurs. He told the Evening Standard: “It has the holy trinity of office workers, tourists and residents.” A 600-cover rooftop summer pop-up Pergola, which opened on one of the buildings scheduled for demolition, has had more than 83,000 visitors. Homeslice currently operates three restaurants in London – in Fitzrovia, Shoreditch and Covent Garden.
Worcestershire-based multi-site operator acquires American-style diner site: Multi-site operator Chaytor Services plans to transform American-style diner Detroit’s in Worcester into a family restaurant. Chaytor Services director Jessica Pinches said the company, which operates Brown’s in Quay Street as well as Bushwackers nightclub in Trinity Street and Sin bar in New Street, was finalising plans for a “big spend” on creating a new restaurant. She told the Worcester News: “We are still in the final stages of negotiations and it will be part of our food brand. It will be a casual, dining experience aimed at families. It’s right next to the racecourse and an iconic part of Worcester. Brown’s has the cathedral and this will have the racecourse. When people ask why, it’s because this is a great location. We hope to make the outside area bigger so you can sit and have lunch or dinner overlooking the racecourse.” Chaytor Services also runs another Bushwackers nightclub in Birmingham and Brown’s sister restaurant The Daffodil in Cheltenham.
BrewDog brewery expansion to go ahead after council agrees to move recycling facility: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog can start expansion of its brewery and headquarters in Ellon after Aberdeenshire Council agreed to move a neighbouring recycling facility. Legal contracts have been completed, with BrewDog also given the option of acquiring an adjacent council “waste bulking facility”. Balmacassie Industrial Estate, which houses the recycling facility, was constructed in 2011, with BrewDog’s brewery built next door. Construction of a new recycling facility would take about eight months, with a new site yet to be named. Cllr Richard Thomson said: “It is very encouraging to watch as the BrewDog success story continues to unfold across the globe from its base in Aberdeenshire. I am pleased councillors have been able to support the company’s ambitions to further expand the scope of its operations at Balmacassie, while at the same time ensuring people in the Ellon area retain access to high-quality recycling facilities within the town. This represents a good deal for BrewDog, for Ellon, for the council and for Aberdeenshire as a whole. We wish the company every success for the future in what we hope will be a long and productive association with Ellon.”
Social enterprise sandwich shop chain Social Bite opens new venture, Home, in Edinburgh: Sandwich shop chain Social Bite, which is backed by Josh Littlejohn and employs people who have been homeless, has opened a new restaurant venture – Home – in Edinburgh in partnership with Dean Gassabi, who owns restaurant brand Maison Bleue. The venture in Queensferry Street serves French-Scottish cuisine and provides training and employment programmes for members of the Social Bite Academy, a four-year paid course for homeless people. Diners are encouraged to “pay forward” meals for the homeless, who can attend a special service on Mondays. Half of the profits will go to Social Bite, with the other 50% supporting other charities. Gassabi told BBC News: “I had already secured these premises for a new Maison Bleue restaurant when Josh came to me with the proposal for Home. This venture with Social Bite is a fantastic way for us to put something back, including helping the homeless community.” Littlejohn added: “Home is a unique place. It’s a place where you can get a first-rate meal at the same time as helping some of the most vulnerable people in society. It’s a natural evolution of what we’ve been doing at Social Bite.” Social Bite has cafes in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.
McDonald’s to test Happy Meals addition to all-day-breakfast in US: McDonald’s is trialling another addition to its all-day breakfast menu in the US – Happy Meals. The company said it would begin testing breakfast Happy Meals in Tulsa this week. The Happy Meals come with either two McGriddles cakes or an egg and cheese McMuffin. McDonald’s said the latter option is the same size as a regular Egg McMuffin, except without the slice of Canadian bacon or butter. The company said the McGriddles cakes in the Happy Meals have 240 calories, and the egg and cheese McMuffin has 260 calories. The Happy Meals also come with side apples, yogurt or hash browns. In the afternoon and evenings, fries are also an option. If the test is successful and goes national, it would be the first new entree for the Happy Meal in more than 30 years, said McDonald’s spokeswoman Becca Hary.
Living Ventures opens Alchemist and Gusto sites in Birmingham:
Living Ventures has opened its Alchemist cocktail bar and sister Italian restaurant brand Gusto, next door to each other in Birmingham. The venues are in Colmore Row, with The Alchemist located in the historic Grand Hotel and featuring the company’s first late-night speakeasy bar in the UK. The company describes the speakeasy as a “wonderland with 18-foot ceilings covered in a canopy of lights” with a bespoke copper-clad entrance. There is also a 54-cover restaurant serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. The standalone business under Living Ventures’ umbrella operates seven UK sites, with two in Manchester, two in Leeds and one in London and Liverpool. A further site at MediaCityUK is scheduled to launch in 2017 among several other openings around the country. The Grand was built in 1879 and has a rich history – not least being the site where Malcolm X gave his last speech in England.
M&B to open second Miller & Carter in Lancashire next month following Harvester conversion: Mitchells & Butlers is to open its second Miller & Carter steakhouse in Lancashire next month by converting its Harvester site in Poulton-le-Fylde, near Blackpool. The company is refurbishing The High Cross Harvester in Longhouse Lane before reopening it under its Miller & Carter brand, creating 30 jobs. As well as an exterior revamp, the restaurant will also include booth seating and modern artwork. Mitchells & Butlers said the change was part of the group’s commitment to continually review its estate and follows on from the brand’s other Lancashire site in Aughton, near Liverpool. Karen Thompson, general manager at Miller & Carter Poulton-Le-Fylde, told The Business Desk: “Bringing a new Miller & Carter to Poulton-Le-Fylde is extremely exciting for the brand and we’re really pleased to be able to grow the team further, following the success of Miller & Carter Aughton.” Miller & Carter has more than 40 sites in the UK.
New bar restaurant concept opens in Southport:
A new bar restaurant concept has opened in Southport. Vicky Hughes has launched Corridor Bar and Eatery in Lord Street on the former site of Cafe Pierre. It serves a range of craft and cask ales, beers, wines and spirits, as well as small plates, breakfasts and desserts. The decor has an industrial feel with lots of wood and metal along with comfy chairs. Hughes told the Southport Visiter: “The refurbishing and decorating work was initially going to be minimal, a few tables or whatever, but it just escalated and we ended up ripping the entire thing out and starting pretty much from scratch. We’ll have a small menu to start with but we expect to add to it – and we’ll also serve breakfasts but it won’t be the usual ‘fry up’, it’ll be things like bagels and poached egg with avocado. It’s called the corridor for a reason – it’s a long, narrow building, but we’ve made the most of the layout and it’s a good size.”
New mezze restaurant concept Mirra gets approval to open in Colchester: New mezze restaurant concept Mirra has received approval for its plans to launch a restaurant and takeaway in Colchester, Essex. The restaurant will open in High Street at a former bookmakers’ shop and will offer a mix of mezze-style, barbecue and grill dishes across both floors of the building. The family-run Bobby Swift bookies was forced to close in November 2014 following increasing competition from Coral and Paddy Power, the Daily Gazette reports. As well as converting the building, applicant Ismet Cam has been granted permission to install a kitchen extraction system with a vertical exhaust duct on the rear wall. The restaurant will open daily from 7am to 11pm on weekdays and Sundays, and 7am to midnight on Saturdays. An opening date for the restaurant has yet to be announced.
New bar and restaurant concept set to open in Derby next month: A new bar and restaurant concept is set to open in Derby’s Cathedral Quarter next month. Mother and daughter Amie and Sharon Marlow are launching The Palfrey in Old Blacksmith’s Yard, off Sadler Gate. They said it would serve an “eclectic mix” of food and drinks with the cocktail menu taking inspiration from Manchester’s cocktail bars. Amie Marlow told the Derby Telegraph: “There will be 34 covers in the restaurant upstairs. Downstairs, there will be more casual food on the menu, such as sharing platters, and we will have a cocktail menu with signature cocktails that aren’t really in Derby anywhere. I have been up in Manchester where there are lots of cocktail bars – we went to places like The Alchemist, Artisan and The Botanist for inspiration. There will also be boutique bottled beers and cans on the menu and two beers on draught. We will also have a wine list with prosecco and champagne but our main focus will be on our cocktails.”
Lowry Hotel’s profits rise 60% despite major refurbishment: Profits have risen by 60% to £1.3m at the Lowry Hotel, the landmark five-star hotel in Salford, despite trading being hit by a major refurbishment programme. According to its latest set of accounts, the hotel posted pre-tax profits of £1.3m for the year ending 30 April 2016, up 60% on a year earlier. Turnover rose by 1% to £12.7m over the same period. Westmont Hospitality Group and investment partner Mount Kellett Capital Management bought the Lowry Hotel from Rocco Forte for an undisclosed sum in September 2014. In February 2015, Westmont invested £4m in a major refurbishment of the 165-room hotel, including introducing smart televisions and Wi-Fi alongside new curtains, carpets, fabrics and colour schemes throughout the rooms and public areas. The refurbishment was completed in October 2015 but has been followed by a programme this year to refurbish the spa and banqueting suites. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors said the company’s performance was in line with expectations. They said although the refurbishment programme had impacted on trading, the business still performed strongly and is expected to fully benefit from the refurbishment in future years.
Swansea-based Gower Brewery launches £350,000 crowdfunding campaign to double capacity: Swansea-based Gower Brewery has launched a £350,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube as it aims to double capacity. The company, which was founded in 2011, is offering a 12.28% equity stake in return for the investment. It has grown from a back-of-pub startup to an award-winning brewery that has sold more than 700,000 pints of beer across five countries in the past 12 months. The pitch states: “Over the next 12 months, using the funds raised (plus a £750,000 investment to install the new bottling line), we are aiming to double our brewing capacity to meet the demand for our beers, and introduce a new range of kegged products, where we anticipate our sales revenue to increase to £1.5m. We will develop a new range of keg products that will fit with the current beer trends and growth of the keg sector, to be promoted by a new national account manager. We will have increased operational efficiency due to the brewing and packaging all being in-house. We will develop sales throughout the UK by working with supermarkets and wholesalers as well as bring on a dedicated sales team. This will be achieved by working with wholesalers and the additional sales resource of a national account manager who will be based in London. We will be targeting national chains such as Mitchells & Butlers and Stonegate, as well as working with the Carlsberg sales team to promote our products via its pub estate. To date our funding has been from director investment, a £140,000 government grant, and loans from Finance Wales and HSBC. In terms of exit, Camden Town Brewery sold for approximately £85m to AB InBev (the world’s biggest drinks company) in 2015. Meanwhile, Meantime Brewing Company sold to SABMiller (the world’s second biggest brewer) in 2015. We are seeking an exit of this nature via a trade sale to a large multinational company within seven years.”
Lincolnshire theme park to close as visitor numbers continue to fall: A Lincolnshire theme park is set to close as visitor numbers continue to fall. The Pleasure Island Theme Park, near Cleethorpes, will shut at the end of the 2016 season. The park has been open since 1993 and was a subsidiary of Flamingo Land when it was acquired by Robert Gibb, Flamingo Land’s managing director. Gibb’s sister Melanie Wood took over the running of the amusement park in 2010. It was briefly closed, but opened again in the same year with all 200 staff re-employed. It is unknown how many staff this latest closure will affect. Wood told The Business Desk: “It is with deep sadness that I have made the very difficult decision to close Pleasure Island Theme Park at the end of this season. For the past seven seasons we, as a team, have tried very hard indeed to keep the business going but unfortunately there have been too many hurdles. Despite heavy investment over the years, the visitor numbers continue to fall and the good August weather this year sadly was not enough to sustain the business. In truth it has been a massive struggle from day one but I lived in the hope that with the support of such a loyal and dedicated team and some good weather we would get through. The team never let me down but over the years the weather, amongst other things, certainly has.”
Gourmet Goat grabs Urban Food awards: Street food trader Gourmet Goat has won two Urban Food Awards, with the judges stating the company is proof “street food does not need to be ‘fast’ food and can be truly sustainable and address a surplus issue created by an industry – while also tasting great”. Gourmet Goat, founded by husband and wife Nick and Nadia Stokes, won “best surplus food initiative” for its use of kid goat meat from UK dairy farms and vine leaves from Forty Hall Vineyard in Enfield. The company also picked up the “sustainable street food” award. Nadia Stokes said: “Winning these awards has made us even more determined to find new ways to incorporate by-products into our dishes and to expand our presence in London.” Gourmet Goat began trading at Borough Market in 2014, opening its first fixed site in Rochester Walk in January.
Corbyn & King launches Live at Zédel: London restaurant operator Corbyn & King has launched Live at Zedel at its Brasserie Zédel venue in Piccadilly. For the next four months, the 220-seater Parisian-themed brasserie in Piccadilly, with its Crazy Coqs cabaret space next door, will host a jam-packed programme of music, comedy, literature and theatre — with a line-up including celebs from Grayson Perry and Levi Roots to Doc Brown, Maria Friedman and the Philharmonia Orchestra. There will be up to three performances a night. Jeremy King told the Evening Standard: “A lot of culture-hungry Londoners don’t even know they’re culture-hungry, so people like us have to be the catalyst for them discovering it – especially in a screen-dominated society.” Live Zédel is an expansion of the cabaret acts that have been part of Zédel since it opened in 2012. “It’s what gives this place heart and soul,” King added. “At first, people couldn’t believe that you could go into a restaurant aimed as much at my children as at 70 to 80-year-olds, have a live band and not have to pay for it. It evoked another era and the atmosphere just lifted and lifted.”
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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