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Wed 28th Sep 2016 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Neil Lambert – Firezza has UK-wide appeal, PizzaExpress’ partnership with Deliveroo shows demand for service that delivers high-quality pizza: Neil Lambert, joint managing director of gourmet pizza delivery company Firezza, has told Propel he believes the brand has UK-wide appeal. Firezza, which was acquired by PizzaExpress earlier this year, opened its 19th site last week in Exeter. Firezza, which has 16 sites in London as well as one each in Tunbridge Wells, Milton Keynes and Exeter, has revealed a rebrand, as well as a pipeline of sites for expansion, as part of a push to restore simplicity to the pizza delivery market. And while the pipeline, which includes Dulwich, Hampstead and Reading, centres on the southern part of the country, Lambert said he believed Firezza would work across the UK. He added: “Our belief is the model of overpriced, poor quality and two-for-one pizza is broken. We believe we can offer great-quality pizza from £6 and, while it affects margins, we can make it work through order volume. We think there is scope to grow the brand inside and outside London. The Firezza brand is strong in the capital but we’ve seen massive growth already from the new sites in Milton Keynes and Exeter and we see that growth expanding across the UK. We’re taking it one site at a time but we believe there is great demand for proper pizza at an affordable price. We’ve got a busy autumn with openings in Hampstead, Dulwich and Reading and a pipeline of other sites. We are working hard to deliver proper pizza across the UK.” Lambert said PizzaExpress’ partnership with Deliveroo had shown the demand for a service that delivers high-quality pizza. He added that Firezza complemented PizzaExpress’ existing restaurant offering because they catered for “two different occasions”.

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, takes place at Bafta Piccadilly on Monday, 21 November. Places are free for operators and £149 plus VAT for suppliers. Chris Hill, chief executive of New World Trading Company, will explain how the company maintains an intimate family culture as it grows, the direct benefits of investing in its people, and the development of a new project this year, Tribes, as a way of developing staff engagement further through rewards and incentives. 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 

Brian Whiting 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. Brian Whiting, founder of gastro-pub operator Whiting and Hammond, talks about the company's £200,000 24-hour fundraising through Funding Circle to open its latest pub, partnering with pubcos, developing slow-starting sites to realise their potential, Tikki huts, and menu evolution, including the introduction of a high-end smoker. Pub, restaurant and foodservice operators can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele on or calling her on 01444 817691.

European hotel industry reports fall in occupancy and revpar during August: The European hotel industry has reported decreases in occupancy and revpar during August, according to data from STR. Across Europe, occupancy dropped 1.5% to 75.8%, while revpar fell 3.5% to €87.88 compared with the previous year. Average daily rate was flat at €115.94. Among the best performing countries was Malta, which reported a 0.9% increase in occupancy to 92.8% as well as growth in average daily rate (4.3% to €155.74) and revpar (5.3% to €144.54). STR analysts said being a particularly seasonal market, Malta had seen fairly strong performance since May and hoteliers capitalised on high demand with higher rates throughout the summer months. The August absolute revpar level was the highest for any month on record in Malta. Meanwhile, Istanbul reported significant declines in occupancy (33.6% to 50.4%), average daily rate (31.8% to 288.06 lira) and revpar (54.7% to 145.13 lira). According to STR analysts, terrorism in the country, along with the July coup d'état attempt, all played a role in the performance declines. At the same time, supply has grown 6.9% year to date in Istanbul, compounding the issues for the local hotel industry.

Merlin Entertainments fined £5m for negligence following Alton Towers rollercoaster crash: Merlin Entertainments, the owner of Alton Towers theme park, has been fined £5m for its negligence that led to “life-changing” injuries following a crash on its Smiler ride. Judge Michael Chambers QC described the events that caused the crash in June last year as a “catastrophic failure”. He added: “This was a needless and avoidable accident in which those who were injured were lucky not to be killed.” A total of 16 people were injured in the incident. Passengers Leah Washington and Vicky Balch suffered leg amputations and three others were also seriously injured when their carriage collided with a stationary carriage on the same track. Merlin admitted breaking Health and Safety rules at a hearing in April, following a corporate prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive. The company had sought to blame “human error” for the incident, but the judge rejected this.

Burger King branches out into home deliveries following Stuart deal: Burger King is branching out into home deliveries following a new deal with on-demand delivery service Stuart. Home deliveries will initially be limited to London as French startup Stuart, which launched in the UK last week, builds its network in Britain. The service already works with Burger King in Paris and Barcelona and promises to deliver products in “less than an hour”. Stuart told the Express that 75 clients had signed up to its services in the UK so far, two-thirds being small to medium-sized enterprises. UK managing director David Saenz said Stuart’s use of technology and advanced computer modelling meant it could accurately predict demand and manage its resources accordingly. The company also supplies couriers to restaurants on an agency basis and is looking to expand into Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds and Manchester by next summer. Founded in 2015 by entrepreneurs Clément Benoit and Benjamin Chemla, Stuart raised €22m in pre-launch funding from investors, including French express delivery company GeoPost.

Company News:

Deltic Group strengthens leadership team with new head of entertainment: Deltic Group, the UK’s largest operator of premium late-night bars and clubs, has strengthened its leadership team with the appointment of new head of entertainment, Charlotte Purdy. Purdy will be responsible for sourcing and securing DJs, celebrity PAs, guest appearances and all entertainment for the company’s 59 venues. She has extensive experience in the late-night economy sector having held a number of senior roles at Ministry of Sound, Coalition Talent and Eminence Leisure. Purdy said: “I was attracted to Deltic as I feel there is an opportunity for me to develop and grow our offering. Deltic has a good reputation for putting on great nights out, but the market changes so quickly. It’s vital that we are always thinking about what else we can do to ensure we continue to give our guests a reason to come back time and again. I’ve been watching them for a while and I am excited to be joining them in this new role. To me it demonstrates the businesses commitment to delivering great nights out by continually investing in the very best entertainment.” Deltic chief executive Peter Marks added: “Charlotte brings a wealth of experience with her and it’s been great seeing how enthused she has been over the opportunities to work with our roster of entertainment. We’re confident that Charlotte is the right person to take our entertainment offering to the next level.”

UK operators among winners in Subway 2016 Franchisee of the Year awards: UK operators were among the winners at Subway’s 2016 Franchisee of the Year awards. Stephen Pasco and Rontec Watford were acknowledged for their “outstanding service and commitment” to the brand’s growth and presence in their regional territories. Pasco owns and operates 15 stores in Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire along with wife Sue and son Ryan. They are also development agents for the brand, helping to drive growth by working with other franchisees to find suitable locations and open new stores. Rontec Watford, which is part of forecourt group Rontec, is one of Subway’s corporate partners and has 40 stores across its 200 forecourts in England and Wales. Another franchisee duo, Larry and Jane Curtis, were also awarded Best Relocation of the Year for their store at Birmingham University. Meanwhile, development agents for the West Midlands, David Kelsey and Daljit Nahil, were named as winners of the Development Agent of the Year award. With 114 stores open in the region, the company said the accolade underpinned the duo’s hard work to widen the brand’s reach and open high-performing stores in good locations. Development agents assist and mentor franchisees with site selection, leasing, design, construction, hands-on training, purchasing, operations, advertising, and local store marketing. Ten franchisees and three development agents from across the world were recognised at the awards.  Subway has more than 44,000 stores in over 110 countries, including more than 2,300 open in the UK and Ireland.

Mud Crab rebrands Didsbury restaurant as Californian and Mexican-inspired concept Y Fabrica: Mud Crab Industries, the restaurant group run by Neil Lawrence and Ged Lynch, has rebranded its Didsbury restaurant as Californian and Mexican-inspired concept Y Fabrica. The restaurant has stopped serving its signature deep-fried foods in favour of a lighter, healthier menu. According to Y Fabrica, the new offering is affordable, informal, Californian-style food made in-house. The menu includes a range of soft flour tortillas to accompany roasted poblano and potato taco with fried onion, refried beans and aged cheese; and Adobo pork belly taco with pinco de pina and salsa verde. Food is accompanied by a California beachside-inspired cocktail list featuring nine margaritas, including a signature Y Fabrica frozen with peach and prosecco sorbet. Lawrence told the Manchester Evening News: “Y Fabrica is about affordable, social eating.” It is not clear whether the brand will be rolled out across all Mud Crab ventures but the concept reflected the clientele of its Didsbury restaurant, the company said.

New concept Emilia’s Crafted Pasta to launch at St Katharine Docks next month: New pasta restaurant concept Emilia’s Crafted Pasta will launch at St Katharine Docks in London at the end of October. The concept is the brainchild of Andrew Macleod, whose lifelong dream has been to open the best pasta restaurant outside Italy. The 35-cover venue in Ivory House will include an outdoor space overlooking the docks and open daily at 10.30am for coffee while chefs prepare pasta in front of customers for lunch service. Head chef Simone Stagnitto, who hails from Genoa, has taken inspiration from pasta recipes passed down through his family. Dishes will include parmesan balls as well as twists on classics such as bolognese made with homemade béchamel. Drinks will include artisan lemonade Lurisia Gazzosa and Italian craft beer Amarcord Gradisca. Coffee has been sourced from The Roasting, a small independent Italian roaster with a coffee shop in Victoria. The wine menu features one each of white, red, rose and prosecco. Macleod said: “Emilia’s will offer the tastiest Italian pasta in London served in a theatrical environment – a memorable experience at a very affordable price point. I can’t wait for Londoners to try Simone’s incredible dishes, which burst with flavour and sunshine.”

Chick ‘n’ Sours starts expansion with Seven Dials site: London-based fried chicken restaurant concept Chick ‘n’ Sours, launched by Carl Clarke and David Wolanski in Haggerston last year, has started expansion with a second site in the capital, this time at Seven Dials. The new 40-cover venue has opened in Earlham Street, with a short, reimagined fried chicken menu, sides, sour cocktails, local beers and soft-serve ice-creams. The core menu includes familiar dishes such as That Korean Fried Chicken Bun and Szechuan Aubergine, but with new additions that include Hot & Numbing Disco Wings and Xian Xian Tenders. There are also vegetarian options at the restaurant, which is open daily for lunch, dinner and weekend brunches. Clarke said: “We couldn’t be happier with the location and the site – bang in the West End of London. Nothing changes, though, in terms of what we are all about. It is the same wicked vibe and spirit we’ve brought to everything we’ve done since our first parties years back. We’re extremely grateful to (landlords) Shaftesbury for giving us the chance to help make the Seven Dials shine.”

Ceru Restaurants to open permanent site in South Kensington in November: EIS-backed eastern Mediterranean casual dining concept Ceru Restaurants will open its first permanent site – in South Kensington, west London, in November. Co-founded by husband-and-wife team Barry and Patricia Hilton in 2014, Ceru’s cuisine is inspired by their travels in the Levant. The 1,000 square foot restaurant in Bute Street will open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, offering a selection of classic mezze, alongside grilled meat, salads and desserts. Signature dishes will include lamb shoulder slow-roasted for more than five hours in a secret blend of 12 spices; apple, pomegranate and mint salad with pea shoots, pine nuts and green chilli; and lamb kebabs marinated in rosewater. A predominantly Levantine wine list will feature bottles from Greece, Turkey and Lebanon, alongside Lebanese Pilsner-style beer, Ceru’s own pale ale, and cocktails. 

New concept Mnky Hse ‘blending London style with Latin American spirit’ launches in Mayfair: A new restaurant concept “blending London style with Latin American spirit” has opened in Mayfair. The 220-cover Mnky Hse has opened in Dover Street, offering contemporary Latin American food and drink alongside live music and DJ performances. Housed over two floors, it features a restaurant and bar area upstairs and an additional restaurant area downstairs. The menu combines traditional elements of Latin American cuisine with British seasonal ingredients, while the bar boasts a vast list of premium cocktails and mezcals. The upstairs restaurant and bar features a Murano chandelier in the lobby, a 3D-honeycomb back-wall and leather-clad, banquette-style seating. Downstairs, an open plan kitchen overlooks banquette seating that is adjustable to accommodate dancing and encourage table-hopping. Private booths have been built into artistically designed vaults covered with vintage steel lift doors.

Handmade Burger Co to open Bath city centre site next month: Birmingham-based Handmade Burger Co will open a restaurant in Bath city centre in mid-October. The new restaurant will be in Upper Borough Walls at a site formerly occupied by Central Bar. The restaurant will be open daily from 9am and offer alcohol until midnight. Handmade Burger co-founder Chris Sargeant said: “We are really excited to be opening in Upper Borough Walls, which is such a great location in Bath. Our success is driven by a passion for fresh, natural, handmade burgers as well as genuinely looking after each and every guest. We have had many requests from customers to come to Bath and we are looking forward to bringing more than 40 different handmade burgers, made from scratch in the restaurant every day.” In May, Sargeant said the company planned to add 15 sites to its 25-strong portfolio during the next three years. He launched Handmade Burger Co with brother Richard in Birmingham in 2006 and now operates venues across East and West Midlands, Yorkshire, the north east and Scotland, as well as sites in Manchester, London, Reading and Southampton. There are other sites in the pipeline for Bristol, Bournemouth and Grey’s Quarter in Newcastle.

BrewDog unveils plans for new sour beer brewery: BrewDog has unveiled plans to create a new brewery and visitor centre. The company wants to create the facility in Ellon beside its headquarters at Balmacassie Commercial Park. If approved, the plans would see a sour beer brewery, production offices, a visitor centre/gallery and a car park built on land next to Balmacassie Way. A statement sent to Aberdeenshire Council planners on behalf of BrewDog saids: “The benefits of the state-of-the-art production facility are only now being realised and projections show that the demand is not waning by any means. The level of employment at the campus is now nearing 300 people – which does not take into account the bar divisions located across the UK and worldwide. Staff and visitors alike will not be able to enter the existing brewery facility after experiencing the sour environment, so as to avoid the risk of cross contamination. It is anticipated that a team of around four people will operate the standalone facility and associated laboratories. The proposals allow the unprecedented success of a locally based business to further reinforce their identity in the Ellon locality, providing further employment opportunities as well as drawing high levels of visitors for the tours and the like – boosting the local economy as a whole.” Aberdeenshire Council has already agreed to move a neighbouring recycling facility to make way for future expansion. BrewDog has also been given the option of acquiring an adjacent council “waste bulking facility” site.

Caprice Holdings eyes Marlow for Ivy opening: Caprice Holdings, owned by Richard Caring, has applied to open a site for The Ivy in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. The company has submitted plans to Wycombe District Council to open The Ivy in an empty building in High Street previously occupied by Clarks shoe shop. The 150-cover restaurant would open in spring 2017 and include an outdoor area. A planning statement said the Marlow opening would “supplement and bolster the attractiveness of the town centre to tourists while also securing the long-term vitality of the centre”. Two homes would be lost if the plans went ahead but Sorbon Estates, which owns the building, said the loss did not “outweigh the economic benefits” of opening The Ivy. A spokesman for Caprice Holdings told Bucks Free Press: “The restaurant will feature an all-day dining menu and be open seven days a week. The Ivy Collection is a group of restaurants, brasseries and cafes, established in London, offering accessible, all-day dining for locals and visitors alike. Each location is carefully handpicked to value, reflect and add to the local area.” Last month, Caprice Holdings opened Ivy Clifton Brasserie in Bristol, the first venue for the brand outside London. There are also plans for restaurants in Bath and at the £100m redevelopment of Salterns Marina in Poole. There are six Ivy sites in London – in Wimbledon Village, the West End, Kensington, Chelsea, Covent Garden and Marylebone. The company also owns The Ivy restaurant, bar and lounge in Dubai.

Gladwin brothers launch brasserie and grill concept in Battersea: The Gladwin brothers, who own Chelsea “wild food” restaurant Rabbit and The Shed in Notting Hill, have launched all-day brasserie and grill concept Nutbourne in Battersea, south London. Nutbourne takes its name from the Gladwins’ family farm and vineyard near Pulborough, West Sussex, and offers the “spoils of the English countryside” with all-British ingredients. The 65-cover waterside restaurant at Ransomes Dock offers views across the water and a 40-cover outside space. Food from the farm is supplemented by seasonal produce from local suppliers or foraged in the wild. Meat, sourced from Nutbourne and butchered at the Gladwins’ Battersea-based warehouse, is served on hot salt rocks, brought to the table and cooked in front of guests. A “butcher’s table” next to the open grill seats up to 14 diners, while a hidden private room, The Cellar, has its own entrance and accommodates up to 25. The Gladwin brothers said: “We wanted to create a community restaurant for Battersea locals. We live in and love this area and hope we’ve created a space that caters for all tastes of people from here and the surrounding areas.”

200 Degrees co-founders – ‘we want to grow regionally and see how we do’, in talks over two new sites: The founders of Nottingham-based specialist coffee roaster and retailer 200 Degrees have said they “want to grow regionally and see how we do”. Tom Vincent and Rob Darby, who formed the company in 2012, have also revealed they are in advanced talks over two new sites in northern cities. 200 Degrees currently has three sites – two in Nottingham and one in Birmingham – and has secured its fourth venue, in Manchester. Darby told the Nottingham Post: “We’re going to grow regionally and see how we do. We’d rather do what we do well and have a good business than expand too quickly. The locations we look at are ones with an awful lot of people – shoppers, office workers and residents. If you have a pool of all three, you have a lovely element. Vincent added: “There’s an emerging coffee scene in Birmingham with a large population and footfall. We’ve dipped our toe into the wider world now and, while the scale and size of the investment is more than we’ve done before, because we’ve got a great team it means it’s not as scary as it might have been. The fact our wholesaling customer base is growing and the coffee shops are doing well is down to the fact people like what we’re selling.” The brand brings in £3m annual revenue and employs 60 people across its three sites.

New Carluccio’s concept to debut at Intu Derby next month: Carluccio’s will launch its first “new generation” model next month – at Intu Derby shopping centre. The concept, which was piloted at London’s Spitalfields earlier this year, brings Carluccio’s deli and retail area to the fore and offers an open plan kitchen with a communal table, where diners can watch their dishes being prepared from scratch. The opening of the 3,787 square foot store will create more than 30 jobs. Carluccio’s chief executive Neil Wickers said: “We are looking forward to opening our first site in Derby. The new restaurant will celebrate and amplify all the small things that have made Carluccio’s one of the country’s most loved restaurant groups. The premise is to emphasise and enhance the things that make Carluccio’s stand out from the crowd – its supplies, fresh dishes made on-site, and unique combination of restaurant, shop and deli.” Intu regional director Nick Round added: “Intu’s national presence means we’re well placed to help brands expand into the shopping centre market and roll-out exciting new concepts nationwide.”

New World Trading Company to open The Botanist in York in November, 11th site: New World Trading Company, which was acquired by mid-market private equity firm Graphite Capital in a £50m deal in June, will open The Botanist in York in November. The company will open the 5,000 square foot venue – its 11th to date –  in Stonegate, creating 60 jobs. The bar and restaurant will offer botanical cocktails, beer and ale as well as local gins. New World Trading Company chief executive Chris Hill told The Business Desk: “We’re incredibly excited to bring The Botanist concept to York as we feel the character and atmosphere of the city fits perfectly with the brand. It’s great to be able to bring so many jobs to the city.” The Botanist has sites in Alderley Edge, Birmingham, Chester, Farnham, Knutsford, Leeds, Manchester, Marlow and Newcastle and will open a venue in Sheffield next month, creating 100 jobs.

Technology acquisition creates nationwide pub quiz: Interactive music service Virtual Jukebox has acquired digital signage and interactive content company Coadunatio to offer a nationwide quiz to the UK pub industry. The acquisition follows a successful trial in which the companies created the Live BBC Popmaster quiz for Children in Need. Virtual Jukebox has acquired Coadunatio to roll-out the pub quiz offering across more venues as an integrated music and quiz using the Virtual Jukebox system. The Virtual Jukebox pub quiz platform will allow pubs nationwide to compete against each other in one big quiz. Run from digital screens within the pub, the simple operation will ensure all pubs keep to the same format, allowing locals to vie for the title of Best Pub Quizzers while creating a fun, competitive and community atmosphere for locals and newcomers alike. Virtual Jukebox chief executive Andy Hill said: “Coadunatio is a technology company with complementary skills to those in Virtual Jukebox, and this has allowed us to create a pub quiz format that is simple for pub chains to roll-out nationwide. In order to create a platform big enough for chains, we needed to find a partner who had all the technology in place and tested, and acquiring Coadunatio has allowed us to enter the pub quiz market a year earlier than planned with a team that knows this market better than anyone I have ever met.”

Zizzi planning several restaurants in Northern Ireland as it prepares to open first site in country next month: Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi is planning several restaurants in Northern Ireland as it prepares to open its first site in the country next month. The brand will open the outlet at the Victoria Square shopping centre in Belfast on Saturday, 8 October, creating 35 jobs. And marketing director Jo Fawcett has revealed it is looking to open further sites in the country. She told the Irish Times: “With the continued success across the UK and Ireland, we hope to look at opening more locations in Northern Ireland in the near future. We have no doubt Zizzi will appeal to everyone and we can’t wait to welcome hungry customers through our doors.” Fawcett said Victoria Square was considered a “prime location” for Zizzi’s first Northern Ireland outlet. She added: “Choosing Belfast was an easy decision for us; the vibrancy and individuality of the city makes it a perfect setting for a restaurant like Zizzi and we can’t wait to leave our mark on the already animated food scene. Zizzi is the perfect accompaniment to all occasions, be it shopping, cinema or nightlife.” The restaurant will feature a bespoke wall mural designed by local artist Hannah Coates. Zizzi, which opened its first restaurant in London in 1999, has 140 sites across Britain and Ireland.

Former Theo Randall chef to launch Italian restaurant concept in London on Saturday: Former Theo Randall chef Jonathan Lawson is set to launch an Italian restaurant concept in London. Lawson, who worked with Randall for five years, and business partner Munur Shah are opening Popolo in Shoreditch on Saturday (1 October). The Rivington Street restaurant will have 32 seats with the menu described as Italian with a touch of Moorish and Spanish, reports Hot Dinners. Dishes will include Grouse Cappelletti – pasta parcels filled with Scottish grouse and served with porcini butter – and Pulpo – octopus with paprika and green laver seaweed.

Star Pubs & Bars tops up £4m north west investment: Three Greater Manchester pubs – The Windmill at Failsworth, the Bird I’ Th Hand at Urmston and the Fox & Hounds in Flixton – are to receive a £750,000 investment to transform them into traditional locals. The expenditure is part of a £4m investment by leased pub operator Star Pubs & Bars in its north west pubs in the past two years, including £1m in Manchester. Star Pubs & Bars said that with operators having invested significantly in Manchester city centre pubs in recent years, residents of outer-lying residential areas now wanted to see similar quality at their locals and to be able to enjoy great food, coffee and entertainment on their doorsteps throughout the day without needing to travel. Work has started on a £250,000 refurbishment of The Windmill and a £336,000 refurbishment of the Bird I’ Th Hand. Both projects are being undertaken in conjunction with new licensees, who are also local residents. Tracy and Mark Harold and Jason Parker are taking over The Windmill, while Dawn Embury is taking on the Bird I’ Th Hand. Lawson Mountstevens, Star Pubs & Bars managing director, said: “We’re firm believers in the future of community locals. However, to thrive they must change in line with the needs and expectations of their neighbourhoods and receive investment to provide outstanding quality. The investment in The Windmill, the Bird I’ Th Hand and, shortly, the Fox & Hounds will broaden their appeal and ensure they are sustainable for the long-term.”

Scottish entrepreneurs unite to launch world’s first social enterprise gin: New community interest company Good Spirits (Scotland) is urging gin-lovers to show “ginerosity of spirit” after launching the world’s first social enterprise gin. The company is a partnership between Pickering’s Gin founders Marcus Pickering and Matt Gammell, social enterprise entrepreneur Chris Thewlis, Dave Mullen of marketing agency Story, and drinks industry and export specialist David Moore. The team will donate profits from sales of Ginerosity to projects that help under-privileged or disadvantaged young people in the UK and abroad. The company is recruiting an independent panel to decide on the direction of funding. Pickering said: “We’ve put together a superb team of industry leaders, experts in their field, who bring their own knowledge and skills as well as their contacts to make this unique project happen.” Gammell added: “We’ve established the company, we’ve created a gin that looks and tastes beautiful, and we’ve got a super cause to support.” Thewlis, who also runs social enterprise bar group Beer for Good, said: “Ginerosity is a perfect example of a social enterprise being used to help the community and shows how a private business, a brilliant idea and some big-hearted individuals can come together and make a meaningful difference to people’s lives.”

Liverpool-based bar and restaurant owner opens new venue in city centre: Jason McNeill, who owns Circo, the circus-themed bar and restaurant in Liverpool’s Albert Docks, has opened new venue – Castle St Townhouse – in the city centre. The “chic” multi-storey restaurant and bar has launched in Castle Street in a grade II-listed building formerly occupied by GT Law and in the heart of the city’s business district. McNeill described Castle St Townhouse as a “grand opulent bar”, which features raised seating areas. He told Your Move: “It is a great honour to open our doors on the increasingly popular Castle Street and join a host of fantastic names within the hospitality industry.”

New restaurant concept Counter Kitchen to open in Clerkenwell on Monday, owners plan further sites: A new restaurant concept with a focus on “nutrient-rich ingredients and punchy flavours” will open in London on Monday (3 October). Benjamin Meyer and William Heath are launching Counter Kitchen, which is based around the concept “Because Mother Nature Nailed It”, in Goswell Road, Clerkenwell. Meyer and Heath said they were unleashing their experience in finance and branding into Counter Kitchen’s creative food concept, with plans for future locations. They added the menu would be kept simple to allow the “natural flavours to shine through” its range of salads, soups and cold-pressed juices. Serving breakfast and lunch, the menu will include an original take on avocado toast, topped with homemade cucumber kimchi; and almond butter toast topped with raw honey and cacao nibs. Lunch dishes will feature salads such as Magic Mushroom (mixed sautéed wild mushrooms with rosso leaves, soba noodle and pickled daikon), and warming bowls including Kimchi Culture (homemade kimchi, stewed beef broth, silken tofu, pak choi, ginger, garlic and black rice).

Nando’s set to open fifth Northern Ireland site, in Newtownabbey: Nando’s is set to expand its reach across Northern Ireland with its fifth site in the country. The company is looking to open the restaurant at the Abbeycentre in Newtownabbey, reports the Belfast Telegraph. It has submitted plans to Antrim and Newtonabbey Council to take over an area of the centre’s food court. Nando’s currently has three sites in Belfast along with a restaurant in Londonderry. The company operates more than 1,000 restaurants across the globe, with almost 300 across the UK and Republic of Ireland. 

Glasgow-based entrepreneurs launch pub group as they unveil fourth site: Entrepreneurs Oli Norman and Stephen White have launched a pub company to bring together their collection of Glasgow bars under a single umbrella as they unveiled their fourth acquisition. The duo have launched Great Glasgow Institutions and Taverns, having added to their portfolio with Maggie Mays in the city’s Trongate, which was bought for “north of £2m”. Norman, who owns Scotland’s fast-growing Itison daily deals website, and White have acquired the live music bar from Colin Beattie, the publican behind Oran Mor in Byres Road. The deal comes a week after their acquisition of The Griffin and joins existing sites Brel in Ashton Lane and Sloans in Argyll Arcade. Norman told Herald Scotland: “As a consequence of us buying The Griffin and Maggie’s, we’ve now got four units. All four of them, while they are very different in personality, all share in common the fact they are what we would call Glasgow institutions in some way, shape or form. They are part of the real fabric of the city, so we wanted to create a group and formalise that whole structure.” The company employs more than 200 staff and expects turnover of £8m in its first year. Nicola Wilkinson, who is currently general manager of Sloans, has been appointed operations director of the group. On Maggie Mays, which Mark Lappin of One Leisure Group operated on behalf of Beattie, Norman said: “It fits in within our DNA as a group as an up and coming institution. It’s been on the scene for over a decade, and is just a really well established, great fun venue.” Although it has made two acquisitions in recent weeks, Norman said the company was in no hurry to add any more, and was not in the business of “empire building”.

Zonal appoints new head of product design and analysis: Hospitality management solutions company Zonal Retail Data Systems has appointed Matthew Wood as head of product design and analysis to oversee product strategy and streamline product processes across the business. The newly created position sees Wood lead a team of eight product managers and business analysts based at Zonal’s Edinburgh headquarters. The company said Wood’s track record as a developer, operations director and product manager made him “well positioned for the exciting challenges” ahead. Wood said: “I am delighted to be joining such a dynamic and innovative business that sits at the heart of the hospitality industry. I look forward to helping the company maintain its leadership position by focusing on products, people and process.” Zonal chief executive Stuart McLean added: “We are pleased to have someone of Matthew’s experience and expertise on board. Zonal is constantly evolving and we need to make sure we have the right products and processes in place to deliver the dedicated and bespoke service we offer our customers.”

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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