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Thu 24th Nov 2016 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Numis Securities – aligning the timetable for the NLW and other wages is in effect enforcing a double increase for half the sector’s workforce: Numis Securities leisure analyst Tim Barrett has said aligning the timetable for the National Living Wage (NLW) and other wages in April is in effect enforcing a double increase for about half the sector’s workforce. He stated: “The important points are as follows. The NLW will increase from 720p to 750p (+4.2%). The minimum wage will increase from 695p to 705p, a 5.2% cumulative increase since October 2015 (when it was 670p). This is equivalent to an annualised rate of 3.2%. The youth rate (18 to 20) will increase from 555p to 560p, a 5.7% cumulative increase from 530p in October 2015. For April 2018, the Low Pay Commission (LPC) has set an indicative range for the NLW, from 780p to 791p, equivalent to 4.7% growth at the midpoint. The important point here is that by aligning the timetable for the NLW and other wages in April, it is in effect enforcing a double increase for about half the sector’s workforce. Whereas pubcos with a significant proportion of under-25s benefited from lower average wage growth in FY16, the reverse will be true between April and October next year. On average this implies 4.5% growth in wages for under-25s and 4.2% for over-25s. The LPC has also reset its view of where the NLW could be in 2020 if the target of a ‘bite’ at 60% of median income is achieved. Under previous forecasts for economy-wide wage inflation, this was 935p. Based on the Treasury’s revised forecasts, 60% of median is now 861p. This is a small consolation for the sector, albeit still implying a compound annual growth rate of 4.6% over four years. In many ways the announcement confirms what is already known, that is that total wage growth will be at least 4% in FY17 and probably closer to 5%. However, the ‘double’ increase for 21 to 24-year-olds is a marginal negative and makes it harder for employers to mitigate inflation by hiring younger workers. With wages equivalent to circa 25% of revenues in the sector, a 5% increase implies a 125 basis points hit to margins and means forecast risk remains on the downside. A more positive interpretation focuses on the potential increase in disposable income for workers in the lowest income deciles. However, given the asymmetry between the sector’s workforce (predominantly low-paid) and its customer base we discount this. Additionally, inflation on imported staple goods is likely to be an offsetting negative for disposable incomes next year, we believe.”

Industry News:

Advanced Marketing and Insights Masterclass open for bookings: Propel is partnering with leading sector public relations and marketing expert James Hacon for the Advanced Marketing and Insights Masterclass, which is now open for bookings. The event takes place on Thursday, 12 January at One Moorgate Place in London. Cote marketing director Andrew Gallagher will share what’s on the top of his marketing agenda and what he thinks will impact this during 2017. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) members and £345 plus VAT for non-ALMR members and are available by emailing Anne Steele on anne.steele@propelinfo.com

Next Propel Premium audio presentation to feature Technomic’s David Henkes providing insights on key developments in the US: The next audio presentation sent to Propel Premium subscribers this Friday (25 November) will feature Technomic’s David Henkes, who presented at this month’s Propel Multi Club Conference. Henkes provides insights on the hottest new concepts in the US, what makes them successful, and their common threads. He also reports on which categories are performing best in the US market. Propel Premium subscribers also receive the Propel Blue Book guide to sector turnover and profitability. The Blue Book lists and ranks 200 sector companies by turnover, profitability and profit conversion. It also provides a five-year overview of profitability and directors’ salaries. The current free service to all existing readers remains the same, but readers can opt to upgrade to receive the Propel Premium service. Propel Premium subscribers will be able to receive the Morning Newsletter, which is sent at 6.30am each weekday, 12 hours earlier at 6.30pm the day before. Subscribers will also receive a copy of the Propel database of 700 multi-site companies, which will be updated every six months, and receive a digital version of Propel Quarterly magazine a week before publication. For operators, annual subscription costs £345 plus VAT, with an extra £50 per additional subscriber at each company. For suppliers, annual subscription costs £445 plus VAT, with an extra £50 per additional subscriber at each company. To subscribe to the Propel Premium service, email Anne Steele at anne.steele@propelinfo.com

CGA Peach unveils new monitoring app for pubs and bars sector: CGA Peach has unveiled a new app that will make it easier for businesses in the out-of-home drinking sector to compile and monitor details of their operations and competitors. The CGA Mobile App is intended to help teams gather accurate and comprehensive pricing and demographic data from pubs and bars across the country. It allows field staff to pool and share data and feed it back to the home office, where figures can be efficiently segmented, analysed and actioned via a customised central portal. The app also allows users to submit reports and embed photos from their visits, and will help speed the time taken to respond to problems and opportunities in the market. It is designed to keep business leaders up to date with pricing issues in real time and collaborate on solutions and new initiatives, locally and across multi-site operations. Phil Tate, chief executive of CGA Strategy, said: “We are always trying to improve our products and give operators in the eating and drinking out sectors even better data to help them make the right decisions. With competition in this sector so fierce and expectations of consumers so high, it is more important than ever for businesses to stay on top of their research. This new app is a groundbreaking way to gather and share intelligence, and we think it will deliver some of the insights brands need to stay ahead of the curve and grow their sales.”

European hotel market reports dip in performance: The European hotel market has reported a dip in performance during October, according to data from STR. The region saw average daily rate fall 1.6% to €113.51, compared with the previous year resulting in revpar declining 2.0% to €85.47. There was a 0.4% decrease in occupancy to 75.3%. Among the best performing countries was Portugal, which recorded its highest average daily rate (€94.78) for the month of October since 2003 as well as its sharpest year-on-year increase in average daily rate (13.0%) for any October on record. Meanwhile, occupancy increased 3.0% to 77.8% and revpar grew 16.3% to €73.72. STR analysts believe the country’s hotels have benefited from an increase in arrivals, which could likely be due to tourists avoiding countries with security concerns such as Turkey or France. Slovakia posted double-digit revpar growth (21.5% to €51.90) as a result of a 7.7% increase in occupancy to 73.7% and a 12.8% lift in average daily rate to €70.42. The analysts noted the country’s hotels fared slightly better on weekends than weekdays during the month and attribute overall performance to a rise in international tourism.

ALMR – fundamental changes still a must for business rates: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has responded to the Autumn Statement by cautiously welcoming new business rates reliefs but has reiterated its call for a wholesale change to business rates. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The lowering of transitional relief caps and the increase in rural relief is welcome, but this still falls far short of the wholesale change many businesses are looking for and that some will need in order to invest and grow. The government has indicated that further announcements on rates are to be made by the Department for Communities and Local Government and we hope this will provide better news and a more productive step towards tackling rates bills, which are a serious difficulty for many businesses. The increase to the National Living Wage is lower than previously forecast and will put money back in the pockets of our customers but it will still tighten margins for businesses and some will struggle to afford it. If wage rates are to be affordable and equitable, the government must step away from a policy-driven rate and ensure any increases are independently set by the Low Pay Commission, reflecting the economic landscape.”

Government planning inspector gives go-ahead for London’s first underground hotel: A government planning inspector has given the go-ahead for London’s first underground hotel to be built, overturning a decision by Camden Council to reject the plans. Developer Criterion Capital submitted plans to convert an underground car park on the corner of Great Russell Street and Adeline Place into a 166-bedroom hotel located four and five levels beneath the existing St Giles Hotel. The council’s planning committee rejected the scheme after hearing concerns about poor air quality for guests and the impact another hotel would have on neighbouring residents and the local environment. However, planning inspector David Prentis has ruled that the concerns could be adequately managed though planning conditions and a Section 106 legal agreement, reports the Fitzrovia News.

Report launches on supporting skills and apprenticeships in hospitality industry: The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Visitor Economy has launched a report on supporting skills and apprenticeships in the hospitality and tourism industry. The report highlights the core issues affecting apprenticeships in an industry that employs 4.5 million people. It outlines 14 recommendations, such as increasing the use of role models and ambassadors to tackle the “perception deficit” that currently afflicts the industry and supporting small and medium-sized enterprises by reducing tourism VAT. A lack of language skills and chef shortages were highlighted in the report as well as concerns about the Apprenticeship Levy, which is due to come into force next year. The APPG for the Visitor Economy was established in 2015 to address a range of key issues facing the hospitality and tourism industry and how best to solve them. 

Company News:

New 5,000-capacity multi-purpose venue Printworks to open in east London: A new 5,000-capacity multi-purpose venue is set to open in an old newspaper printing facility in east London. Printworks is located on a 16-acre site in Canada Water that was once home to the largest newspaper printing facility in Western Europe. With six huge event spaces on offer, the new venue would host everything from food markets to conventions, orchestral performances and music festivals. Printworks will also be used for nightclub events overseen by LWE, the London promoter behind warehouse venue Tobacco Dock and festivals Field Day and Junction 2. LWE said: “Our first site visit blew our minds. It was so hard to keep it under wraps for so long. We have been looking for spaces in London for almost ten years now and nothing has come close to this.” The building’s original features and printing machines will be largely left as they are to preserve the venue’s industrial feel, the owners said. The empty facility has previously been used by Secret Cinema for its Star Wars and 28 Days Later events, and was one of the locations where Avengers: Age Of Ultron was filmed. The planning application for the use of Printworks as a culture, music and arts space is under consideration by Southwark Council and events will begin in early 2017 if approval is granted.

Innis & Gunn opens third Beer Kitchen site, in St Andrews: Scottish brewer and retailer Innis & Gunn, which is currently running a crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube, has opened its third Beer Kitchen site, this time in St Andrews. The company, founded by Dougal Sharp, has opened the venue in North Street. The bar hosts 12 different beer taps as well as a selection of bottled and canned beers. It follows on from sites in Edinburgh and Dundee, with food now representing 40% of Innis & Gunn’s retail business. The expansion of the Beer Kitchen brand is behind the company’s crowdfunding campaign, which raised £1m in 72 hours. The money raised so far will allow the brewer to open four Beer Kitchens in Scotland in the next 12 months, its first international Beer Kitchen in Toronto, Canada, and its first sites in England. Innis & Gunn retail managing director David Hall said: “There has been a fantastic response to our Beer Kitchens since we opened in Edinburgh last year. It’s proof to us that we’ve found a concept that truly resonates with the public and we’re excited to roll it out in more cities across Scotland and, from next year, England. St Andrews is a town packed full of beer and food enthusiasts looking for drinking and dining experiences that have passion and craft behind them. We’re certain they will have their needs met by The Beer Kitchen.” In addition to new Beer Kitchens, the money raised will help the company to increase beer production at the Innis & Gunn Brewery and double its turnover to £25m within the next three years. So far, 1,532 investors have pledged £1,860,500 to the crowdfunding campaign, with six days remaining.

Newcastle-based brewer opens first pub as it bids to start new chain: Newcastle-based Hadrian Border Brewery has opened its first venue as it bids to start a new chain of independent pubs in the north east. The brewer acquired The Station Hotel in Gateshead, which had lain empty for more than two years, about 18 months ago. Following a £350,000 refurbishment, the pub in Hills Street has reopened as Station East. The redesign brings into use two railway arches at the rear of the pub, while former upstairs accommodation has been redesigned as an open, mezzanine floor above the bar that will hold up to 60 customers. The pub will primarily offer a range of Hadrian Border’s own beers, including Farne Island and Tyneside Blonde, and the company is now looking for other potential venues, eyeing sites ranging from Berwick in the north to Teesside in the south of the region. The company is owned by husband-and-wife team Andy and Shona Burrows. Andy told Chronicle Live: “We see pubs as the next stage in our growth. It creates our own distribution network and also an opportunity to establish something more lasting and tangible. Vibrant city and neighbourhood pubs can add real character to a place and still have a role to play in the community.”

Daniel Thwaites launches Grill & Grain concept as it reopens canal-side Lancashire inn: North west brewer and retailer Daniel Thwaites has launched new concept Grill & Grain after reopening a pub on the banks of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The Boatyard Inn in Riley Green, near Preston, has been rebranded as Grill & Grain At The Boatyard and features a micro-brewery and American-style menu following a £1m refurbishment. Other changes include a transformation of the venue’s interior, while the outdoor seating area has doubled. Andrew Buchanan, director of brewing and pub operations at Daniel Thwaites, told Preston Blog: “We’ve travelled far and wide in our quest to find the best in grilled food, testing different cooking fuels and cooking methods. What we found is nothing can replicate the flavours of open-fire cooking. We’ve gone to great lengths to bring that to Grill & Grain At The Boatyard, importing our wood-fired grill and smokers from America to recreate the flavour sensations we wanted. It will not only help us cook delicious food but will add an element of theatre to the dining experience. It’s a really exciting development for Thwaites and we have invested substantially in transforming the pub. The micro-brewery is a great addition for us as we will be able to use our brewing experience from Daniel Thwaites we have built up over nearly 210 years and bring it directly to Grill & Grain. It’s going to be great to see this develop.”

New crisps and dips concept Hipchips launches in Soho: Crisps and dips concept Hipchips has opened in Old Compton Street, Soho. The venture is the brainchild of chef Scott Davies, formerly of Providores tapas bar in Marylebone, and businessman David Morris. The crisps are made from five unusual British potato varieties, including Highland Burgundy and Shetland Black. Dips include Peruvian Ceviche – a salsa made from tomato, red onion, chilli, lime and coriander – and smoky cheese fondue. Some of its snacks are sweet, with Nutella praline, salted caramel and cheesecake dips. Crisp-dip combos will change on a regular basis, according to what is in season. For drinks, Hipchips offers craft beer and wine. Davies told the Evening Standard: “Everyone likes crisps but what you get in the shops is fairly average. We are using the best ingredients to make a high-end product. We wanted to give people something a bit different. I don’t think there is anyone doing something like this in the country – or even the world. I’ve taken my inspiration for the sweet crisps from doughnuts by sprinkling them with cinnamon sugar as soon as they come out of the fryer.” A small box of crisps with two dips costs £4.50, a medium box with three dips £6.75, and a large box with six dips £11.50.

Rosa’s Thai Café receives two-star SRA rating: Rosa’s Thai Cafe, which aims to combine “modern London with modern Bangkok”, has been awarded a two-star Food Made Good rating by the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA). Alex and Saiphin Moore, founders of the seven-strong group, said the recognition proved it was possible to source, cook and serve authentic Thai food in the UK while also putting sustainability at the heart of the menu. Rosa’s is now sourcing some ingredients, such as its sweet and holy basil that are historically imported from Thailand, from London aquaponic farm GrowUp, which is also supplying some of its tilapia fish. All poultry, eggs and beef are free-range, while the pork is outdoor reared. There is also a selection of craft beer and organic wine, alongside organic and Fairtrade soft drinks. Other initiatives include deliveries by bicycle, giving staff surplus food that would otherwise have gone to waste, and providing customers with doggy boxes for leftovers. Managing director Alex Moore said: “Since we joined the SRA in 2014, it has always been our goal to receive a star rating but to receive two stars this soon is beyond our expectations! I’d like to thank my team for their combined effort and commitment over the past two years. Little changes add up, and I hope our story can help inspire other restaurants to do the same.” SRA chief executive Andrew Stephen added: “From a market stall in east London eight years ago, Rosa’s has now expanded to seven restaurants and proved you can grow as a business and get greener as you go, working with a network of like-minded suppliers, a motivated well-trained team who share the same ethos and, of course, customers who are looking for authentic, responsibly sourced food and drink.” 

Cereal Killer Cafe sets sights on international expansion after opening third site, in Birmingham: London-based Cereal Killer Cafe has opened its third site, this time in Birmingham, and has set its sights on international expansion. The company, owned by Belfast-born twin brothers Alan and Gary Keery, has launched the cafe at the Bullring shopping centre. The site is decked with arcade games and memorabilia transporting customers back to the 1990s. It serves more than 100 cereals from around the world, cereal cocktails and a variety of pop tarts. However, the brothers said they had set their sights on yet bigger things, with plans to expand internationally. They are working to open franchises in Jordan, Dubai and Kuwait in the next month. Alan Keery told the Belfast Telegraph: “We always wanted to open more stores and opened our first two within two months of each other. Now we’ve been working on setting up international licences and have been looking for franchisees. By the end of the year we will have opened branches in Jordan, Dubai and Kuwait – but we definitely want to open more in the UK as well.” The Keerys launched the brand in Shoreditch, east London, in 2014 before opening a second site in Camden last year.

Deltic Group brings Przym and Steinbeck & Shaw brands to Watford: Deltic Group, the UK’s largest operator of premium late-night bars and clubs, has brought its Przym and Steinbeck & Shaw brands to Watford. The 2,300-capacity venue in the Parade has reopened following a £1m conversion of the company’s site that housed its Oceana and Woo Woo brands. Przym features a new stage show, sound system and VIP booths, including three new dance-floor booths, and will host international guest DJs and celebrities. The main room is complemented by Curve – a more intimate space with DJs playing the latest R&B chart tracks. For those wanting to enjoy retro tunes, a disco room – Vinyl – features a flashing dance floor and plenty of glitter balls. In the place of Woo Woo is Shoreditch-inspired Steinbeck & Shaw, which features graffiti walls and modern sculptures. The bar offers a range of freshly prepared cocktails and a premium drinks range of spirits, wines and craft beers, while playing an eclectic mix of music. Deltic Group operates Pryzm sites in Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Kingston-upon-Thames, Nottingham, Plymouth and Leeds, and Steinbeck & Shaw bars in Bristol, Canterbury, Plymouth and Cardiff.

Coco di Mama to open 15th site next month, in Moorgate: Coco di Mama, the London-based quick-service Italian food and coffee operator owned by Azzurri Group, will open its 15th site – and seventh this year – next month, in Moorgate. The company, founded by Daniel Land and Jeremy Sanders, is launching the outlet in Coleman Street. The menu will include breakfast dishes such as poached egg pot or porridge, a choice of Italian favourites, and a selection of Italian-inspired hot and cold food. To celebrate Christmas, Coco di Mama has created a seasonal pasta sauce with turkey and cranberry, a beef wellington baguette, and will also be serving mini mince pies, which will be available throughout December. Land said: “Jeremy and I are so proud of how Coco di Mama is growing and evolving. We’re still at the stores every day to make sure our team and our customers are experiencing Coco exactly as we first intended – to support their success and to power their day. We’ll be doing this from 6.30am every morning in Coleman Street, just like we do across London, bringing our unique mix of breakfast, coffee, lunch and pasta to Coco di Mama regulars.” Launched in 2011 in Fleet Street, Coco di Mama serves more than 60,000 customers per week.

Stonegate Pub Company donates £10,000 to help Best Bar None expand initiatives: Stonegate Pub Company has donated £10,000 to Best Bar None, the Home Office-supported community safety programme operated by pubs and bars in 70 areas in the UK, to help it launch more programmes across the country. The initiative, which partners the on-trade with local authorities, police, and community organisations to make town and city centres safer, has been running for more than 13 years and is set to launch schemes in Bolton, Falmouth and Warrington. Stonegate Pub Company said it recently carried out a survey among its 660-plus managers and found 75% of the estate was involved in schemes working to improve customer safety on a night out, with Pubwatch and Best Bar None topping the list. Stonegate Pub Company chief executive Simon Longbottom said: “Making our communities safer and attracting visitors into our cities and town centres requires a co-ordinated effort between all agencies and the industry. Supporting Best Bar None enables the team to reach more areas across the country to further promote the positives of starting a scheme that benefits us all.” Best Bar None national co-ordinator Mick McDonnell said: “There is a lot of evidence from places that operate a Best Bar None scheme that the partnership approach to tackling alcohol-related harms delivers a reduction of incidents and crime.”

East Asian-style cafe concept Kova Patisserie opens in Soho: East Asian-style cafe concept Kova Patisserie has launched in the heart of Soho. The venue has opened in St Anne’s Court, which links Dean Street and Wardour Street, offering a selection of cakes, crepes and pastries alongside hot drinks and sweet treats, including creamy shortcake and roll cake. Kova’s signature offering is mille crepes, which come as a stack of thin, French-style crepes sandwiched together with a light custard cream filling between each layer. Flavours include chocolate, vanilla and classic Japanese matcha green tea. There is also matcha tiramisu, matcha roll cake, matcha chocolate gateau and even a matcha latte, Hot Dinners reports. Other treats include souffle cheesecake and raspberry rose tart, as well as a selection of coffee and imported traditional Japanese tea, including Hoji Cha (roasted green tea), Yuzu Cha (sweet citrus tea) or Genmai Cha, with brown rice kernels. Some tea varieties will be available to buy. Kova is open from midday until 8pm, from Tuesday to Thursday, until 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 6pm on Sundays.

Sussex-based vineyard Bolney Wine Estate secures £2m investment to fund expansion and launch into new markets: Sussex-based vineyard Bolney Wine Estate, which supplies wine to Waitrose and Marks & Spencer, has secured a £2m investment to fund its expansion and launch into new markets. The company, which was founded more than 40 years ago and whose Pinot Gris is served at Wimbledon and to British Airways trans-Atlantic first class passengers, has received the funds from a private investor. The family-owned business is set to use the capital injection to fund the construction of a state-of-the-art winery, as well as launch its wines in the US, Scandinavian and Asian markets. The company has forecast it will double production by 2020 as a result of the investment. Managing director Sam Linter told Insider Media the investment was in response to market demands and confidence in English wine in general as well as the company’s products. The private investor was advised by law firm Penningtons Manches and accountancy firm Roffe Swayne. Bolney Wine Estate was advised by EMC Corporate Finance and ASB Law.

Stoke council to buy back lease on building housing JD Wetherspoon pub for £2.9m: Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet members have voted to buy back the leasehold on a historic building housing a JD Wetherspoon pub for £2.9m. The council will reacquire the former butchers’ market building in Tontine Street, Hanley, which is occupied by the Reginald Mitchell pub and Waterstones book shop. The authority sold the lease on the grade II-listed building to Estates & General in 1990 – for a term of 150 years – for £906,000 plus an annual rent equating to £19,450. However, the company went into administration in 2011. JD Wetherspoon has a 35-year sub-lease, dating to 1998, at a rent of £217,000 a year. Administrators Deloitte has now offered to sell the lease back to the council on the condition it writes-off outstanding rent payments of £125,000. The building will bring in a rental income of £282,000 a year but the purchase requires additional council borrowing. Council officers said nearby developments, such as the proposed Unity Walk shopping and leisure complex, could result in rental income from the building increasing. Cllr Jack Brereton said the deal represented good value for money for taxpayers. A JD Wetherspoon spokesman told The Sentinel: “We have more than 900 pubs around the country – with some of them we own the freehold and some of them are leasehold. In this particular case we will work with the new landlord and the pub will continue to trade normally.”

Five-star hotel planned for Sheffield city centre as part of Chinese investment deal: A five-star hotel is being planned in Sheffield as part of a Chinese investment deal. The city council agreed a 60-year partnership with Sichuan Guodong Construction Group, one of the largest companies in Sichuan Province, in July this year. Now, as part of the deal, the council has shed more light on the first two major projects lined up for the city. Sichuan Guodong will assess the feasibility of using the current Central Library building to develop a five-star hotel, which would include the library services moving to another site in the city centre. As part of this proposal, the company has committed to maintaining the Graves Art Gallery. The Central Library building is considered to be in a “poor state of repair”, with an estimated £30m of investment required to bring it up to the standards. Sichuan Guodong has selected the Surrey Street building because of its prominent location in the heart of the city next to the theatres and transport facilities. Elsewhere, the company is assessing plans to undertake a private residential development scheme in the West Bar area of the city. Council deputy leader Leigh Bramall told Insider Media: “Delivering a five-star hotel in the city is exactly what Sheffield needs to support the vibrant, growing city centre we need. When we announced this partnership in the summer we said it had the potential to be transformational for the city, unlocking hundreds of millions of pounds for the regeneration of the city centre.”

Our Bakeries closes Plymouth site: Our Bakeries, the south west cafe bakery brand, has closed its site in Plymouth because it was “not viable”. Owner Clive Cobb said the cost of transporting freshly baked bread to Plymouth from a central kitchen in Exeter each day was no longer justified. He said the business in Royal William Yard was still making a profit but not enough for him to keep it open. The cafe and restaurant concept, which launched in 2011, served artisan bread and “dough-based meals”, including cakes, scones, jam, muesli, porridge, croissants, pastries, handmade bruschetta, soup, stew and fresh salads. Cobb told the Plymouth Herald: “It was difficult to operate and make a profit. It was making a profit but not enough to warrant our travelling that distance from our central kitchen in Exeter. So it was becoming a struggle to keep it alive.” The company will continue to run its four other sites – in Exeter, Lyme Regis, Poundbury and Rousdon.

Reel agrees deal to operate cinema at proposed Kirkby leisure scheme: Independent cinema operator Reel has agreed a deal to anchor the proposed leisure development in Kirkby town centre, Merseyside. The company, which runs 15 sites across the UK, will operate the 15,000 square foot, six-screen cinema at the complex, which is being developed by St Modwen. The leisure scheme would replace the former library in Newtown Gardens and feature three restaurant units, which are being jointly marketed by agents Colliers and Cheetham & Mortimer. St Modwen projects director Paul Batho told The Business Desk: “Securing Reel is positive news for the future of Kirkby town centre. Recent feedback from local people tells us the current leisure offer is seriously lacking across the town. We’re currently in talks with several national operators regarding the restaurant units and hope to make further announcements soon.” Reel Cinemas property director Chris Morgan Giles added: “We’re continuing to expand our operations, with plans to grow the brand significantly over the next five years. This is a great scheme to be involved with and we’re looking forward to moving forward with the cinema.” St Modwen said the application for the leisure scheme would be lodged by the end of the year.

New Italian-style cafe deli concept opens in Lancaster: A new Italian-style cafe deli concept has opened in Lancaster. Rome-born Bruno Buccelli has launched the eponymous venue in Church Street. He is the son of a Rome-based food agent who sells Italian produce direct to restaurants. Buccelli sources products using his father’s connections to five different Italian companies. He told Insider Media: “I wanted to bring the passion and flavours of authentic Italian cooking to Lancaster. The north west of England is a great place to be and I know the people here love good food. I’m bringing it to them, via deli boards, try-before-you-buy incentives and aperitivo.”

Brighton restaurant Moshimo gets go-ahead for £3m ‘lantern in the sky’ extension: Japanese restaurant Moshimo, which is next door to Brighton Town Hall in Bartholomew Square, has received approval from the city council for its plans for a £3m extension to create a “lantern in the sky”. Work will begin shortly to build a five-storey, 130-cover restaurant that will double as a skyline wedding venue. The 85-foot building will be built off-site and transported into the city in pieces before being assembled using a crane. It is hoped Skylight, designed by architect Michael Spooner, could open early next year. Moshimo co-founder Nicholas Röhl said the “eye-popping” but “subtle” restaurant would become a landmark building. He told The Argus: “We don’t want to grow through being in every high street in every town, we want to grow through interesting projects and architecture. You have big chains coming to Brighton but Brighton is different and businesses should be different. You shouldn’t just do what the hedge funds want you to do.”

Chapel Down reports exceptional harvest: Chapel Down has reported an exceptional harvest, with the highest quality fruit for still and sparkling wines it has received to date. Yields were slightly lower than expectations, although the company still collected its third-largest harvest. It follows an “excellent 2015 and outstanding 2014”. The company stated: “This augurs well for more higher-quality, higher-value wines and will aid the development of our brand. A more challenging flowering period following a frost-free spring left a lower potential crop, but a wonderful summer and exceptional harvest period meant very low disease pressure, outstanding ripeness levels, perfect balance of acidity, and the development of intense flavours. With this fruit our wine-making team have the best fruit they have ever had from which they can create more international award-winning wines of increasing value.” Chief executive Frazer Thompson added: “It’s been another outstanding year and we’re really excited about the potential of the wines we can create from the 2016 vintage. It will really help Chapel Down continue to surprise and delight its customers and keep the development and momentum moving forward. These are exciting times for English wines, and Chapel Down in particular.”

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