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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 7th Feb 2017 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Costa Coffee rolls out ‘any cup’ recycling scheme: Costa Coffee has rolled out its “any cup” recycling scheme across its UK stores. The Whitbread-owned company said the scheme has the potential to recycle 30 million of its cups a year but, with competitors’ cups also included in the scheme, that figure could “significantly increase”. Once deposited, the cups are stored in racks at the store before waste partner Veolia takes them to specialist waste processing plants. The scheme follows a trial last year at 45 stores in London and Manchester. In addition to the initiative, Costa is now offering 25p off any barista-served drink when customers use a reusable cup at the majority of its UK stores, excluding Northern Ireland and Costa Proud To Serve outlets. In April, the company will also introduce two multipurpose reusable cups. Costa is also conducting independent research with Sheffield University to further investigate recyclability, with results to be published by the second quarter of this year, while it said it was working with packaging companies to test materials for a potential new takeaway cup. Jason Cotta, managing director of Costa UK and Ireland, said: “Our research in Manchester and London shows around 40 cups per day are left in stores, which means we have the potential to recycle 30 million Costa cups a year. What’s more, the fact we will accept competitors’ cups means we could significantly increase that figure.”

Industry News:

Full speaker schedule for next Propel Multi Club Conference revealed: The full speaker schedule for the next Propel Multi Club Conference has been revealed. The event takes place on Thursday, 9 March at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel, 4-18 Harrington Gardens, London SW7 4LH. Paul Hemming, managing director at AlixPartners, will provide an overview of current mergers, acquisitions and refinancing trends in the UK market – and reflect on market growth. Michael Ingemann, chairman of the ground-breaking Copenhagen-based Claus Meyer Holdings (founders of Noma), will talk about learnings from launching a food hall and a fine dining restaurant in New York’s Grand Central station last year while also launching a culinary school in Brooklyn. Andrea Ferraz, analyst at Morgan Stanley, will look at the impact of third-party delivery on the UK foodservice sector, compare progress in the UK with other major markets and give her views on how third-party delivery will develop in the UK. Nick Pring, co-founder of Urban Pubs and Bars, will talk about creating a unique market position in London suburbs, building a business the second time around, finding property and repositioning JD Wetherspoon pubs, creating a pizza concept, and opening a 12,000 square foot pop-up at Stratford Westfield. John West, head of franchising sales for Coffee Republic, will set out how the company has revived its fortune in the UK and overseas, its USPs, its position within the coffee market, its franchising strategy, and future plans in the UK and abroad. Jason Myers, chief executive of Busaba Eathai, the concept created by Alan Yau, will talk about evolving the brand, staff recruitment and retention, prospects for the Thai market, brand longevity, and developing its delivery and takeaway business. Kevin Charity, founder of Coaching Inn Group, will set out the benefits of taking Business Growth Fund investment two years ago, including his reflections on the process and how it has quadrupled the value of the business through the execution of a business plan that has included buying new sites, strengthening the management team, leveraging head office costs, and growing site Ebitdas through investment and operational improvements. Dan Einzig, food and beverage entrepreneur and chief executive of sector design agency Mystery, will look at current trends in Los Angeles and London and the learnings from innovative brand concepts his agency has helped to develop, including Bubbleology, Za Za Bazaar, Yorica, Rawligion and Dub Jam, its own Caribbean barbecue and reggae rum bar concept. Jayne Baker, managing director of Wright & Bell, will talk about the ground-breaking £3.2m Imbiba-backed Kitty Hawk, the department store of dining concept – combining shopping, drinking and dining – its progress at its first site in South Place, and future prospects. Atholl Milton, co-founder of Street Dots, will speak about the company’s development of a unique street food business model, the size and quality of the market, connecting and developing high-quality street food traders, and the way he sees street food developing in the future. Steve Locke, co-founder of Be At One, will set out how the company has developed its own distinct position in the cocktail market with a focus on staff training and development, progress in the regions, and future prospects. Multi-site companies can book two free places each by emailing anne.steele@propelinfo.com or calling 01444 817691.

Restaurant prices ‘set to rise’ after bad weather hits vegetable harvest: Consumers have been warned they will be confronted with rising restaurant prices after extreme weather ravaged crops across Europe. Alan Clarke, head of European fixed income strategy at Scotiabank, said the drought and freak snow storms that hammered the Mediterranean vegetable harvest could bump up processed food prices. He said the cost of eating out was also likely to rise as restaurants grapple with sharply higher vegetable costs and a jump in import prices caused by the Brexit-hit pound. Clarke told the Press Association: “Extreme weather has devastated vegetable crops in Spain, leading to shortages of a number of vegetables in the UK. Prices of veggie burgers (or other such processed food products) could rise after a lag given that the ingredients that go into these have risen. More generally, restaurant prices face upside risks, especially because spring/summer menus are due for imminent update. These already had good reason to rise due to the weaker pound raising import costs.” An extreme mix of drought followed by flooding and freezing conditions has severely affected growers in southern Spain, while poor conditions have also hit farmers in Italy, Greece and Turkey. Clarke said other vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes, salad peppers and aubergines could also be hit by shortages in the coming weeks. Overall food prices rose by 0.8% between November and December, having been flat a year earlier.

CAMRA calls for penny off a pint in next month’s Budget: The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has called on the Treasury to cut beer duty by a penny a pint in next month’s Budget to counter an expected rise in inflation and to help cap beer prices. CAMRA is also calling for a reduction of up to £5,000 in business rates for pubs in England. Last month, Heineken and Carlsberg became the latest brewers to raise prices, following similar moves by Molson Coors and Anheuser-Busch InBev. The weak pound has also driven up the cost of imported materials such as hops. The government has imposed three consecutive penny cuts to duty and a subsequent freeze in recent years. However, the UK is still paying among the highest rates of beer duty in Europe at 52.2p a pint. CAMRA chairman Colin Valentine told The Guardian: “It is clear previous cuts to beer duty have benefited beer drinkers and supported significant growth in the brewing industry. However, we as a nation are still paying a notable amount – especially in comparison with our European neighbours. At the same time, pubs are confronted with higher taxation and costs.” Meanwhile, the Wine and Spirits Association is calling on the chancellor to cut wine and spirits duty. Chief executive Miles Beale said: “While the government has focused on beer cuts previously to support British pubs, this is only a job half done. Wine and spirits are ever more important to the British pub and the chancellor can do his bit to support them and landlords by cutting duty by 2%.”

Shaftesbury launches Chinatown London campaign as bilingual website traffic rises 170%: West End property landlord Shaftesbury has launched a marketing campaign to highlight the “vibrancy and diversity of Chinatown London and its exciting variety of cuisine”. The campaign, which features a film and bespoke app, follows a 170% year-on-year increase in traffic to Chinatown London’s bilingual website. The promotional film will appear on the website and social media channels and features seven different cuisines available in Chinatown London – Sichuan, Japanese, Indonesian, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Chinese fusion and Malaysian. The new Red Packet app is available to download on Weibo and WeChat. Red packets are exchanged between family, friends and colleagues at Chinese New Year and often contain money. The app allows users to open a virtual “red packet” to reveal Chinatown London offers ranging from prizes to restaurant discounts. Shaftesbury head of group marketing and communications Karen Baines said: “In conjunction with the new app and film, the campaign will boost awareness of the lively and exciting Chinatown community and all it has to offer.” Chinatown London’s Chinese New Year celebrations saw in excess of 500,000 visitors on Sunday, 29 January, making the event the largest of its kind in Europe, Shaftesbury added.

Molson Coors and Sky extend partnership agreement: Molson Coors and Sky have extended their partnership agreement and their continued joint investment into the on-trade with a discounted offer for landlords. Licensees can get up to a third off the cost of their Sky subscription if they stock Molson Coors products. The deal also gives landlords a host of other products and services, all included for free as part of the package. Sky’s “Go Further” range gives landlords free Wi-Fi for their venue, multiple viewing cards so they can show several fixtures at once, free point of sales, and marketing, advice and tips included in the free monthly Preview magazine and an array of planning tools available through the MySkySports website. The Molson Coors range includes Carling, Doom Bar and Coors Light as well as Staropramen, Pravha and Grolsch. Sky Business managing director David Rey said: “This is a brilliant deal for pubs and our ongoing partnership with Molson Coors is great news for the industry. The combination of offering amazing live sport and a great range of drinks will help venues stand out from the crowd and increase trade.” Molson Coors UK and Ireland managing director Phil Whitehead added: “2017 will be huge for live sport and we are thrilled to be able to offer customers this unique opportunity that offers them even more value. Molson Coors has the strongest portfolio of brands it has ever had, and through our partnership with Sky we are simply providing greater choice and more reasons for people to head to their local for a pint.”

Company News:

Viva Brazil undergoes pre-pack administration: Restaurant group Viva Brazil, which is based in Liverpool and launched in 2010, has undergone a pre-pack administration that has kept its restaurants open in Liverpool, Glasgow, Cardiff and Birmingham. BDO partners Kerry Bailey and Matthew Tait had been appointed as administrators and have completed a sale to Viva Brazil founder Andy Aldrich. He has set up a new vehicle, Viva Brazil Restaurants, and said all staff had been transferred across. Aldrich said: “Santander has been very supportive and we have agreed a new financial package with them which sees us in a new position of strength moving forward. We can now look forward to a secure future and I can confirm that all restaurants in Liverpool, Cardiff, Glasgow and Birmingham are performing strongly.” The company’s site in Liverpool was shut for nearly four months after a fire in August 2015, and its Glasgow restaurant also suffered from a fire. Two expansion attempts failed – a restaurant in Aberdeen closed in January 2015 after seven months and its Newcastle site shut in September 2016 after 14 months. However, it continued to look for opportunities and opened its Birmingham restaurant in May 2016, reportedly having spent £1.2m on refurbishing the site. In its most recent published accounts, for the year to September 2015, its shareholders’ funds showed a deficit of £660,000. A going concern warning in its accounts, which were signed off last June, said the company was “reliant on its shareholders, who have made funds available to the business to ensure its continuation”.

Former Novus Leisure sales director launches Advanced Sales Network: Rupert Macfarlane, former sales director at London bar and restaurant operator Novus Leisure, has launched new business The Advanced Sales Network. The company helps businesses in the leisure and hospitality industry to grow through pre-booked and advanced sales and supports individuals seeking to further their sales careers in the sector. Macfarlane told Propel: “Our goal is to provide a full complement of practical sales solutions, designed to transform advanced sales growth within leisure and hospitality businesses. The benefits of a strong, advanced sales plan – that maximises all manner of pre-booked sales, from consumer birthdays to corporate events – have long been recognised in the industry. However, businesses still want to be reassured that this can be implemented in a cost-effective way that improves customer experience and brings true growth, not cannibalisation of existing sales. The answer to these questions is unequivocably ‘yes’ and we’ve proven this in the most challenging of businesses. The Advanced Sales Network is dedicated to ensuring businesses and individuals achieve their full potential in this most exciting and dynamic of industries.”

Sayers the Bakers blames Brexit as profits fall into the red but sees improvement thanks to strong Christmas trading: North west-based independent retail bakery Sayers the Bakers has blamed the Brexit vote after falling into the red, but revealed profits and sales have since improved thanks to strong Christmas trading. The company saw turnover fall 2% to £48,520,000 for the year ending 30 September 2016, compared with £49,652,000 the previous year. It saw a pre-tax loss of £114,000 compared with a profit of £493,000 a year earlier. Staff head count at the Bolton-based group, which is behind the Sayers, Hampsons, Poundbakery and Poundcafe brands, increased to 1,625 from 1,608. The company stated: “Retail businesses have encountered a challenging year, largely as a result of the Brexit referendum announcement and subsequent consumer uncertainty. Sales have recovered steadily in the past few months post-referendum. The focus this year has been improving the business following a period of rapid growth and the introduction of the National Living Wage. An operating profit of £4,000 was generated during the year (2015: £601,000 profit).” A spokesman told Insider Media: “After a very challenging high street in 2016, the past three months of the year have been a lot more positive, especially Christmas trading. Our recent results have reflected this with profits and sales ahead of last year.” Sayers the Bakers claims to be the biggest independent retail bakery in the north west, with more than 150 stores throughout the region. It was established by Fred and Lylian Sayer in Liverpool in 1912.

YO! Sushi founder Simon Woodroffe – I want to be the next Richard Branson: YO! Sushi founder Simon Woodroffe has revealed the success of the restaurant business is not enough to satisfy his entrepreneurial appetite, adding that he harbours ambitions to emulate Sir Richard Branson. He wants to take the YO! brand far beyond its humble beginnings and across a number of sectors, just like Branson has done with Virgin. Woodroffe is no longer involved in the day-to-day running of YO! Sushi, which he founded in 1997. He offloaded a majority stake in YO! Sushi in 2003 and sold his remaining 22% stake in 2008, reportedly earning him £10m. Woodroffe is still paid an annual royalty of 1% of gross sales and has held on to the YO! brand name. After YO! Sushi, he set up Yotel, a hotel chain offering “small but luxurious cabins” and sold it to a Kuwaiti property giant. It currently operates hotels in Gatwick, Heathrow, Amsterdam Schiphol and Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, and plans to open new ones in Singapore, San Francisco and Boston among other cities, including a first European city centre hotel, in London. His latest offering is YO! Home, a firm that makes prefabricated homes where walls slide away and dining tables rise from the kitchen floor. The first set of flats is expected to launch in Manchester this year. Woodroffe told City AM: “I want to launch a spa chain called YO! Zone, and a floating island project called Yotopia, whose tagline will be ‘everybody dreams of owning an island and now you can too’.” He also wants to launch a recording studio called “YO! You’re Famous” and a laundry business called “Wash and YO”. He also dreams of people investing in his businesses through a vehicle called “YO! Dough”.

Star Pubs & Bars’ gaming machines outperform market, success driven by smartphone app: Gaming machine income in Star Pubs & Bars sites has risen 3% in the past 12 months – making it the only leased pub company whose sites have grown gaming machine income year-on-year, it said. The company put the performance down to initiatives it introduced in 2015, including giving its business development managers (BDMs) a smartphone app that allows them to analyse machine data when with licensees. The app enables BDMs to share a snapshot of machine income, the amount of Machine Gaming Duty (MGD) owed, and the amount of reclaimable VAT. As a result of its success, Star Pubs & Bars has also made the app available to machine suppliers. The company said it had also seen the number of amusement with prizes (AWP) machines in its estate increase for the first time. Star Pubs & Bars machines manager James Sharpe said: “The app has helped BDMs and licensees to identify issues and opportunities to grow income as it highlights when income is up or down and enables it to be compared against wet sales. It has also helped by working out MGD, which was a headache for licensees previously and the reason given for wanting AWPs removed.” Star also undertook a comprehensive retendering exercise, which resulted in a 2% reduction in rental charges “without an impact on quality of service”. Sharpe added: “We don’t charge for management services or take royalties so any savings are passed directly to licensees.”

Veeno launches franchise: Veeno, the Italian wine cafe brand, has launched a franchise offer. The pitch states: “A Veeno wine cafe ranges from 1,000 square foot to 2,000 square foot – the required investment depends on the size of the unit and contingent factors but is generally lower to other operators on the market. This is thanks to the distinctive operating model and high efficiency. Each location is carefully selected by the franchisor in urban areas with a very high potential, such as business districts or city centres. The choice is made through rigorous geo-marketing criteria to identify the best spot to maximise trade. In just three years, the company’s turnover has grown by 800% and today Veeno operates eight direct stores as well as franchise-operated stores in the UK, employing more than 100 people.”

Davis Coffer Lyons instructed to sell five London pubs operated by Winnicott Group: The pubs and bars team at leisure property advisers Davis Coffer Lyons has been instructed by The Winnicott Group to sell the five pubs within its London­based estate. The team will market the pubs the group operates in the capital – the Winnicott sites in Camden, Stoke Newington and Bermondsey, as well as The Amwell Arms in Islington and The Perseverance in Shroton Street, Marylebone. The pubs are available individually or as a portfolio. Davis Coffer Lyons associate director Connie Start said: “These pubs reside within some very desirable London leisure hot spots and there is great scope for a multiple operator or corporate business to acquire and develop trade.”

Matthew Clark celebrates record online sales in December: Drinks distributer Matthew Clark has reported a record-breaking month for its online ordering platform Matthew Clark Live, with online sales up 27% and orders up 29% in December compared with the same month in 2015. Prosecco accounted for three of the month’s five best-selling products, with vodka taking the other two top slots. Yorkshire and the northwest saw the biggest demand for vodka, with 40% of online orders, while Greater London reported a thirst for non-vintage Champagne (31% of orders for the category). Demand for fortified wine was strongest in the south west, while in London gin was the order of the day, with 17% of sales. Matthew Clark marketing director Geoff Brown said: “We know how hard our customers worked over the festive season and many have told us how much they value saving time on ordering by using Matthew Clark Live. Features such as being able to order any time, anywhere, as well as the speedy repeat order function have contributed to December being our biggest month yet for online ordering.”

London-based startup Feast It launches street food catering website: London-based startup Feast It has launched a website to streamline the process of booking an event caterer. Working in partnership with more than 100 of the capital’s street food vendors and restaurants including Patty & Bun, The Breakfast Club, Dirty Burger, Blu Top Ice Cream, Hummus Bros and The Cheese Truck, Feast It will offer a platform enabling event planners and businesses to discover, compare and book their ideal caterer, all on one site. Feast It, which was founded by Digby Vollrath and Hugo Campbell in May last year, recently raised £340,000 in seed funding from angels in the technology and hospitality industries. Vollrath said: “Having worked in events and festivals for years we really wanted to create a platform that would take as much of the hassle out of organising events, as well as celebrate London’s incredible independent culinary scene. The process of booking catering hasn’t really changed over the past ten years – it’s needlessly labour intensive and almost impossible to find the full range of food that’s actually available when you need it. We wanted to create a platform that helps people realise the amazingly diverse and delicious options available to them as well as book event catering from the chefs they already love!” While Feast It is launching into the street food scene, the long-term ambition is to move into more traditional aspects of the catering industry as well as partnering with craft breweries, entertainers, and other suppliers to offer a platform that will let users book everything they need for their next party or event.”

Freehold of Cotswolds boutique hotel goes on market for almost £2m: The freehold of Number Four At Stow, a contemporary boutique hotel with restaurant in the Cotswolds, is on the market with Colliers International for £1,950,000. Run by sisters Caroline and Patricia Losel, it was ranked in the top ten in the UK by TripAdvisor and has 18 air-conditioned bedrooms, suites and a family room. Facilities include restaurant Cutler’s, a meeting suite, a car park and gardens. In addition, there is a two-bedroom cottage that can be used as staff or self-catering accommodation. The original building was a two-storey pub that became the Roman Court Hotel. The current owners bought the property in 2010 and have completed an ambitious refurbishment. Colliers International hotels director Peter Brunt said: “Our clients bought the property when it was closed and transformed a rather drab business into the smart-set favourite you see today. However, they never wanted to relocate from their home in Thames Valley and, after years of commuting, they have decided to sell – giving new operators a chance to take over a fantastic and flourishing business with a proven revenue stream.”

Staffordshire-based Lymestone Brewery acquires third pub: Staffordshire-based Lymestone Brewery has acquired its third pub. The company has taken on The Quiet Woman in Leek, nine months after it shut. Lymestone Brewery is refurbishing the grade-II listed building in St Edward Street, which dates to the 1700s, ahead of reopening by Easter. The company also operates the Lymestone Vaults in Newcastle-under-Lyme and The Borehole in Stone. Owner Ian Bradford told the Stoke Sentinel: “The Quiet Woman will continue in the style of our other pubs, with real ale as the focus. There won’t be mainstream drinks available. Leek is already an extremely good place to go for beer. We are very excited to be expanding our business into the town. We are still a small family firm and this is the next stage in our development.”

M&B introduces Meantime’s Brewery Fresh tank beer at reopened Nicholson’s pub in Hatton Garden: Mitchells & Butlers has introduced Brewery Fresh tank beer from Greenwich-based Meantime to its reopened Nicholson’s pub, the Sir Christopher Hatton in Hatton Garden, London. Brewery Fresh Lager is delivered by tanker direct from maturation vessels in Meantime’s brewery in Greenwich to be dispensed straight from specially engineered, custom-built tanks. The lager continues to mature in the tanks, allowing the flavours to develop even while in the pub. The process also means the beer has no contact with oxygen until it hits the glass. Meantime has pioneered the integration of Brewery Fresh tanks into bars and pubs in the UK since 2013, and expects the number of installations to increase throughout 2017. In 2016, Meantime expanded its Brewery Fresh offering by being the first in the UK to introduce Brewery Fresh Pale Ale, a tank-dispensed version of its London Pale Ale, into four London outlets. Meantime marketing director Rich Myers said: “Our Brewery Fresh tanks ensure our beers retain the complex flavour the brewer originally set out to create. We use the latest technology to transport our beer straight from the maturation vessels to the Brewery Fresh tanks and, ultimately, into the glass, meaning it is the freshest beer you can find.”

Drake & Morgan promotes James Sherrington to chief financial officer: Drake & Morgan, the London-based bar and restaurant group backed by Bowmark Capital, has promoted James Sherrington to chief financial officer. Sherrington’s role will include responsibility for commercial and consumer insight as the business accelerates its growth plan this year. In the past six months, Sherrington has overseen the buyout of the 11-strong Corney & Barrow Wine Bars group and he will be key to supporting the pipeline of openings planned for 2017. These include three new London sites in West India Quay, Bishopsgate and Cannon Green as well as a second site in Manchester. Drake & Morgan’s strategy is to build a significant multi-brand bar and restaurant portfolio in London and regionally. By the end of 2017, the group will have grown to 25 sites. Drake & Morgan founder and managing director Jillian MacLean said: “James has proven himself to be invaluable to the business and his promotion is thoroughly deserved. I am delighted to be working with him on our next stage of growth”. Sherrington joined Drake & Morgan in 2014 from Caprice Holdings and the Birley Group, where he was financial director, reporting directly to Richard Caring.

Pho to make Liverpool debut: Vietnamese street food restaurant group Pho is set to open a site in Liverpool. The new venue will open in Bold Street at the former Seoul Love restaurant site. Work is under way to convert the ground floor and basement into an 80-cover restaurant. The grade II-listed frontage will also be restored. Agents CBRE acquired the Bold Street restaurant on behalf of Pho. Nick Huddleston, associate director at CBRE’s Manchester specialist markets team, told the Liverpool Echo: “We were delighted to acquire this key site for Pho in one of Liverpool’s most exciting locations. Bold Street, Liverpool’s hub for independent stores, artisan cafes, boutique bars and restaurants, has continued to flourish, with a host of new openings from a range of independent and national operators. Pho’s acquisition in Bold Street will further enhance this vibrant and thriving location.” Pho was founded by Stephen and Juliette Wall in 2005 after they fell in love with Vietnamese food on a visit to the country. Their first restaurant was in London’s Clerkenwell. Today Pho has 21 sites across the UK and last month the company signed to open a unit at the £440m Westgate Oxford development.

Gruppo Campari acquires Bulldog London Dry Gin for $58.4m: Premium spirits maker Gruppo Campari has acquired Bulldog London Dry Gin for $55m (€50.9m) plus working capital and assumed liabilities for $3.4m. The agreement foresees the possibility of an earn-out payable on achievement of certain incremental sales volumes according to agreed volume targets. Campari has distributed Bulldog Gin since 2014 through its own network by virtue of an exclusive five-year agreement with an attached call option to acquire ownership of the brand in 2020. Following a renegotiation of the deal terms, Campari accelerated its purchase of the brand. The overall consideration of $58.4m implies a multiple of about 13.6 times the expected Contribution After Advertising and Promotion of about €4m in 2017 calculated on a pro-forma basis. The deal is expected to close by mid-February. Launched in the US in 2007 and subsequently in Europe, Bulldog Gin is the fourth biggest-selling premium gin in the world and is available in 95 countries, with a strong concentration in Europe. It achieved net sales of about €11m in 2016, an increase of about 22% on 2015 on a like-for-like basis, with about 150,000 nine-litre cases sold globally.

LGBT venue Royal Vauxhall Tavern being sold to new owner: The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, an LGBT venue in London, is being sold to a new owner amid a battle to make the building a community-owned venue. Campaign group RVT Future has been fighting to protect the 1860s landmark after recent uncertainty about its future amid talks of new owners. The bar became a grade II-listed building last year in recognition of its LGBT history, meaning redevelopment of the bar is almost impossible. However, campaigners fear developers could transform the bar into a “straight” destination or turn the upper floors into offices and accommodation. RVT Future was applying for the sui generis classification on the property, which would have stipulated the building must be preserved as an LGBT performance space. This allegedly pushed owners Immovate to put the bar back on the market for an estimated £4.1m. However, RVT claims Immovate sidestepped allowing a community bid for the property despite securing an Asset of Community Value (ACV) status. It is believed Immovate is selling its shares in the property, rather than the property, meaning the ACV status does not have to be upheld. Co-chairman of the campaign group Rob Holley told GSN: “Obviously we’re thrilled Lambeth Council has officially designated the Royal Vauxhall Tavern an equal mix of pub, nightclub and cabaret, plus protected ancillary use of the accommodation.” Holley stressed Immovate’s move was legal but “frustratingly sneaky”. He added: “RVT Future is now ready to launch a community bid. The community group, made up of Tavern performers, promoters and punters, is ready to kick off the biggest community buyout in Britain. We want to bring the Royal Vauxhall Tavern into community ownership to safeguard its future for its hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide.” James Lindsay, who sold the bar to Immovate but still runs it on a day-to-day basis, said the new owner was willing to operate the bar as a LGBT venue.

Tooting to launch its version of Pop Brixton: A concept similar to Pop Brixton and featuring “street food stalls, craft beer and live sports screenings”, is set to open in Tooting High Street by the end of February. A tweet under the name Tooting Pop stated the project would create an “all-day destination and add to the recent openings nearby”. Pop Brixton is Lambeth Council’s space dedicated to startup businesses. It is a community initiative that has “transformed a disused plot of land into a pioneering space”. Pop Brixton is now home to 53 independent businesses, including restaurants, street food traders, designers, digital start-ups, a community barber’s shop, a youth radio station and a number of social enterprises. The site is currently set to run until autumn 2018.

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