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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 27th Feb 2017 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Government plans to reform business rates appeal process could ‘cost hospitality industry £95m’: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has once again called on the government to ensure hospitality businesses are guaranteed a right of appeal to address incorrect rateable values. This follows publication of new research by the ALMR in association with BNP Paribas Real Estate showing the scale of appeals that could potentially be dismissed on the grounds of reasonable professional judgement. Figures published by the ALMR, based on research by BNP Paribas Real Estate, show almost 6,000 reductions in rateable value of 10% and under and 13,690 in total. The total value of reduced rates liability for rateable value decreases under 10% is in excess of £95m. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The figures show how vitally important it is that a robust and accurate appeals system remains in place and that appeals are not able to be dismissed under the indistinct and subjective notion of reasonable professional judgement. There is a very real danger that appeals on ratings inaccurate by as much as 10% will be dismissed under this new rule, costing businesses huge amounts of money. The figures show nearly 6,000 businesses receiving a reduction in their rates due to inaccuracies falling within a 10% margin of error. The total liability for these reductions is absolutely huge – in excess of £95m. Under the new system proposed by the government, these appeals could be summarily dismissed with no recourse for employers. It is absolutely crucial that businesses are guaranteed a right to appeal erroneous decisions or the sector could be facing a totally unfair and potentially catastrophic rates hike.”

Industry News:

Advanced Social Media Masterclass schedule revealed: The schedule for the Advanced Social Media Masterclass has been revealed featuring all-new content and insights to allow companies to increase brand exposure and broaden their reach. Propel has partnered with digital marketing company Digital Blonde for the event, which encompasses a full-day programme of tips, insight, case studies and information to help create sector-leading, compelling content. It takes place on Friday, 7 April at One Moorgate Place in London. The day will open with Digital Blonde founder Karen Fewell introducing the latest social media technology and trends and how these will impact food, drink and hospitality marketing. It will detail all the emerging trends to watch out for and how business can benefit from them. Delegates will find out everything they need to know about Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. The sessions will revisit effective social media campaigns, with a special focus on flops and triumphs. It will delve into what success looks like across each platform and how to avoid the potential pitfalls. The day will explore the psychology of marketing giving delegates the chance to understand human behaviour and decision-making processes. There will be a session on boosting social success with PR and how they should work together for best results that really get audiences engaged and involved. The discussion will be brought to life, with recent and relevant examples to learn from. The day will also look at the sites, blogs and social media accounts with highly engaged audiences that possess the power to make a place or product a hit. Delegates will find out how to create their dream team when it comes to recognising, recruiting and retaining social talent. Getting the job spec right, as well as understanding your audience, play a part in this mission and this session will help businesses to become a magnet for the talent they want. The event will also look at exploring how to use analytics to inform business strategies and how measuring and monitoring key metrics can lead to continuous performance improvement and a sector-leading social media presence. Delegates will also find out how their social media messages and campaigns can benefit from social advertising, all without using big budgets. The session will cover advertising examples, appropriate spend and how to evaluate paid-for activity. The day will also cover making sure your social marketing is engaging for all – and there will be a session providing clarity on marketing to Baby Boomers, Generation X, millennials and Generation Z. Delegates will also find out the best ways of using social media to attract families to their pub or restaurant. The day will be rounded off with an expert panel to answer the burning questions arising throughout the event. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium members and £345 plus VAT for non-members and can be booked by emailing

UK pubs urged to put further focus on non-alcoholic drinks offering as fifth of under-25s revealed as teetotal: UK pubs are being urged to retain focus on providing a good selection of non-alcoholic drinks as Office for National Statistics figures reveal a fifth of under-25s in the country are teetotal, with numbers on the rise. Motivated by health and income concerns, the new generation are bucking the trend of their parents and opting to drink in moderation, or not at all. Laura Willoughby, founder of Club Soda, a guide that rates pubs based on the quality of the non-alcoholic beverages they sell, told The Guardian: “Young people are drinking less but pubs aren’t keeping up with what they want. Club Soda is a ‘mindful drinking’ movement. It’s about changing the way you think and feel about alcohol. For a lot of people, mindful drinking means switching to a lower-percentage drink, cutting down for a week, doing a sober sprint or trying out an alcohol-free for size. The pubs that get this, that realise not everyone is drinking – they’re the ones that are thriving.” Draft House pub chain owner Charlie McVeigh said offering a decent selection of non-alcoholic drinks had made all the difference to the traditionally quiet start of the year. He said: “Historically we haven’t been that great at stocking non-alcoholic drinks but we now really focus on it. We had a record January.” 

Half of orders at US quick-service food and coffee chains to be ‘order-ahead within five years’: Half of all sales at US quick-service chains will be placed digitally before the customer enters the premises, according to research company Crone Consulting. Currently, fewer than 10% of US companies offer the mobile order-ahead feature. However, the growth of the technology has been so swift, chains are having to rethink the way they do business, from putting “greeters” at the front door to adding grab-and-go parking spaces. Starbucks, a pioneer of the technology, introduced the service across the US in late-2015. Order-ahead customers flooded some stores, making it look like lines were extra long and losing customers. Fixes included texting customers when a mobile order was ready and hiring more baristas to ease congestion. Last quarter, mobile orders represented up to 20% of sales during peak traffic times at almost 1,200 Starbucks stores. Order-ahead apps drove 7% of all transactions last quarter, double the figure a year earlier. Adding headcount helped TGI Friday’s overcome its rocky start too. After launching the feature in September, some restaurants angered customers by mixing up to-go orders and digital sales, which now account for about 7% of all orders. A member of staff now has the sole job of managing those orders by shepherding food from kitchen to customer, while the company is also experimenting with kerbside delivery and adding dedicated parking spaces. Richard Crone, chief executive of Crone Consulting, told Bloomberg: “Product, process and people have to be re-engineered to pull this off. Order-ahead features can boost a store’s capacity by 30% and, if companies don’t get it right, we could see a bunch of stores actually going out of business.”

Bluewater Plaza leisure expansion to include restaurants and four further cinema screens: Land Securities has revealed its redevelopment of the Plaza at Bluewater shopping centre in Kent will include four new screens at Showcase Cinema de Lux, three new restaurants and two new leisure spaces. Work has begun on-site and is due for completion by Christmas. As well as upsizing to 17 screens, one a large-format XPlus, Showcase Cinema de Lux will install fully electric recliners in every auditorium. The three restaurants will be located at the end of the Plaza on the upper level, overlooking the central space, which houses 14 restaurants. Land Securities said it was already in detailed discussions with several leading brands for the units, which range from 2,500 to 3,800 square feet. Land Securities portfolio director Russell Loveland said: “The upsizing of Showcase, the creation of three further restaurants, and the addition of two new, exciting leisure concepts means we will continue to offer something different on every visit.” Duncan Short, senior vice-president of US and international operations at Showcase Cinemas, added: “The expansion and upgrade of our flagship Bluewater Cinema de Lux will further enhance its standing as one of the finest cinemas in the UK.” CBRE, Time Retail Partners and Shelley Sandzer acted for Bluewater. Showcase dealt direct.

Celebrity chef to relaunch Jamie magazine targeting ‘urban female foodies’: Jamie Oliver’s monthly magazine Jamie is to be relaunched by publisher Hearst targeting the “urban female foodie market”. Hearst said the relaunch on Wednesday (1 March) follows eight months of research by the company’s content marketing division Hearst Made, in collaboration with Oliver himself. This is the first revamp for the magazine since it launched in 2008 and puts the celebrity chef at the heart of the magazine for the first time. The new-look title will feature exclusive recipes by Oliver and be 1.5cm taller to help it “stand out on the newsstand”. Oliver told Campaign: “I’m incredibly proud of the new-look Jamie magazine and I’m excited to be relaunching it with my partners at Hearst. The mag feels fresh, exciting and super-relevant. It’s jam-packed full of content, from exclusive recipes you just won’t get anywhere else to foodie insight from my trusted circle of friends, who’ll be sharing the lowdown on food trends, where to visit, what to eat and so much more.” Oliver will promote the magazine by featuring in a Facebook Live event on Monday, 6 March. Jamie magazine won International Consumer Media Brand of the Year at the 2015 PPA awards, and reported a 5% increase over the previous six months in the latest ABC results.

Company News:

Burning Night Group raises £3m on new crowdfunding platform: A crowdfunding campaign to expand the successful Bierkeller chain of bar brands has hit £3m in record time. Burning Night Group, which owns the Bierkeller, Shooters and Around the World three-venues-in-one concept, launched a Crowdstacker loan-based fundraiser towards the end of 2016. The first £1m was raised within days, with £2m reached by December. Now the fund has topped £3m, allowing the company to push ahead with plans for expansion into further city centre locations. After opening its first site in 2010, it already runs five venues across the country in Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Cardiff and Birmingham, with a sixth in Nottingham due to open in March. Burning Night Group employs more than 500 staff and had a turnover in 2016 in excess of £17m. The Crowdstacker Peer to Peer loan (P2P) was identified as a way to involve Bierkeller Entertainment Complex customers in the business’s future growth. The fund, which is still open, offers investors a 7% interest return with a choice of perks packages for those putting in £2,500 or more. Loans are over a period of three years and money can be invested via the tax-efficient Innovative Finance ISA – introduced by the government in April 2016 – or Personal Savings Allowance, allowing up to £1,000 in interest to be earned tax-free. Allan Harper, chief executive of Burning Night Group, said: “It’s fantastic to have generated such a significant amount in such a short time and it really shows, not just people’s faith in what we’re doing as a company, but their willingness to put their money behind us. With interest rates so low at the moment, P2P investments are a great option for people wanting better returns and so it made sense for us to use that route because it allowed us to directly involve current loyal customers, and potential ones, in our future plans.” The minimum investment for the Burning Night Group Crowdstacker P2P loan is £500, with interest paid quarterly. Security has been structured in several ways to mitigate as many risks as possible. Loans are secured on the assets of Burning Night via a first ranking debenture; six of its principal subsidiaries provide cross guarantees for Burning Night’s liabilities; and two of its principal subsidiaries have given a first ranking debenture over their assets and business.

US burger chain Burgerfi opens flagship store in London, second UK site: US burger chain Burgerfi has opened its flagship UK location – in Bloomsbury, London. The company, which launched its first UK site in Wembley in September, has opened the new venue in Woburn Place. Founded in 2011, the company has teamed up with sustainability chef Arthur Potts Dawson to produce a menu with plenty of Aberdeen Angus beef and a big focus on recycling. The burgers are “cooked to order in a minute”, with all ingredients prepared daily. The brand’s signature offering is the CEO Burger (double Wagyu beef and brisket blend patty with homemade candied bacon and tomato jam, truffle aioli and aged swiss cheese). Other offerings include the Burgerfi Bacon Cheeseburger, Breakfast All Day Burger, and Vegifi Burger. Other menu items include hotdogs, hand-cut fries with toppings, onion rings, and desserts including custard concretes, floats, shakes, as well as craft beer and wine. Operated by Ground Round, the restaurant opening is led by Jamie Wood, son of The Rolling Stones’ guitarist Ronnie Wood, and hospitality veteran Constantine Kulukundis, of Chinawhite in Piccadilly. Wood told TLE: “I walked into a Burgerfi on holiday in Miami and loved the way you could order a quinoa burger with a lettuce bun. I wanted to bring this back to the UK and enforce the organic and sustainable message at home.”

Punch passes 100th apprentice milestone: Punch has passed a major milestone after its 100th team member completed their apprenticeship qualification. All 100 apprentices have had access to a wide range of training materials, workshops and e-learning modules, which are all part of the Punch Progress training and development offer. The 100th apprentice, Mathias Sexton, worked at Punch’s Old Quay Inn, Truro, where he completed a Level 2 NVQ followed by a Level 3 NVQ in hospitality supervision and leadership. Punch worked with training provider Lifetime Training to provide training, support and development to achieve the skills required in the hospitality industry. Punch learning and development manager Helen Willis said: “We are really pleased to have seen our 100th learner complete an apprenticeship qualification and reach such a momentous milestone. Apprenticeships offer a vital gateway for many young people like Mathias, enabling them to learn valuable skills so they can excel across the workplace. We’re delighted our apprenticeships are thriving in what is a tough jobs market. We look forward to welcoming and supporting more apprentices.” 

Whole Foods Market reports second consecutive year of profits: Whole Foods Market, which has nine sites in the UK, has reported its second consecutive year of profit in the UK. The company lost money for eight consecutive years in the UK but turned to profit in its 2015 financial year. Companies House accounts for the year to 25 September 2016 show turnover up 3% on a like-for-like basis to £117.2m, from £114m the year before. Pre-tax profit was £1,206,000, down slightly from £1,312,000 the year before. Administrative expense improved by eight basis points to 40.5%, with a drop of 39 in the total number of staff during the year. In total, Whole Foods Market has 430 stores in the US, Canada and UK. 

Bourne Leisure boss calls for VAT cut during school holidays: The boss of Bourne Leisure has called on ministers to reduce VAT for the tourism industry during school holidays to test the effect of the tax cut. Dermot King, whose company owns the three Butlin’s seaside resorts, Warner Leisure Hotels and Haven holiday parks, said Britain’s hospitality industry could not compete with foreign destinations due to the tax burden. He told the Mail on Sunday: “If you stay at a hotel in Clacton you are charged VAT at 20% for the privilege but in a Barcelona hotel you’re charged just 10%.” The £127bn-a-year tourism sector is Britain’s fourth-largest industry and employs 10% of the UK workforce. King said: “If you want to rebalance the economy then tourism is the easiest industry to grow. It can create jobs fast, especially for young people, and that growth wouldn’t be sucked out of another part of the economy. You are persuading more British families to stay at home and more overseas families to holiday here.” He said of a zero rate of VAT for the hospitality industry: “It would create 100,000 jobs and have a return in just three years. For those reasons I urge the government to think about its tax strategy.” King admitted that so far ministers had been reluctant to cut VAT, but added: “If the government finds a full VAT cut too expensive, one thing it could do to test whether it works is to reduce VAT for school holidays.” Hemel Hempstead-headquartered Bourne Leisure, which employs 5,166 staff, was ranked fifth in this year’s Big Companies category of the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For list.

Hollywood Bowl to open £2.4m Derby city centre site: Hollywood Bowl Group, the UK’s largest ten-pin bowling operator, is to open a £2.4m venue in Derby city centre. The 22,000 square foot site will open at Intu Derby’s new leisure development in early April featuring 18 fully computerised bowling lanes with plush seating, a Hollywood Diner and bar. Any bowling lane can be pre booked, including four VIP lanes that include action replays, personalised messaging and social media interaction. The diner will offer freshly made American classics, including gourmet burgers, hotdogs and shakes. Hollywood Bowl Derby will also be one of the first bowling centres in the country to offer a cashless “tap to play” amusement area, in response to the growing trend for cashless facilities, the company said. Consumers will be able to top up “fun cards” to use on arcade games, including new versions of retro favourites, with many allowing players to win child-friendly prizes. Hollywood Bowl Group chief executive Steve Burns told Hospitality & Catering News: “It will be our 56th centre in the UK and our second to launch this year. Designed as a ‘next generation’ Hollywood Bowl, it is set to be one of the most innovative bowling centres in the country.” Last month, Hollywood Bowl Group signed to anchor the 225,000 square foot leisure extension at Intu Lakeside in Essex. In December, the company reported sales increased 23.9% to £106.6m in the year to 30 September 2016. Group adjusted margin was up 42.6% to £29.4m. 

Middletons gets buildings watchdog thumbs up for £1.5m Leicester steakhouse: Middletons has won the stamp of approval from a national heritage watchdog for opening a £1.5m steakhouse in a long-neglected Leicester bank building. Historic England has removed the grade II-listed former NatWest bank building in Leicester’s St Martins – considered to be one of the city’s architectural treasures – from the national Heritage At Risk register. The building, which dates to 1900, had stood empty for 16 years and was falling into disrepair. Following an ambitious £1.5m restoration by the Middletons Steakhouse Group, the building reopened to the public as a restaurant in October. Historic England inspectors have since visited the property and have now confirmed it is no longer “at risk”. It will be removed from the 2017 national heritage At Risk register, which is due to be published in the autumn. Middletons managing director Stephen Hutton said: “We are delighted Historic England has recognised the fantastic refurbishment we carried out on this former bank. Bringing this building back to life has been a three-year project and we are very proud of this achievement and the fact this historic building is open once again for people to enjoy.”

Mixology Events launches cocktail bar and store concept TT Liquor in Shoreditch: Mixology Events, which is led by Alastair Tatton and Stephen Thompson, has opened cocktail bar and store concept TT Liquor in Shoreditch. The venue in Kingsland Road is set across three floors, with a specialist liquor store and subterranean cocktail bar. Padlocked “deposit boxes” are available for hire so guests can keep private liquor collections at the venue. The upper floors host Mixology Events’ signature cocktail-making classes, experiences and events. TT Liquor offers 1,000 liquors, including rare bottles and gift sets that combine glassware, equipment and spirits. Everything stocked in the liquor store is also available in the cocktail bar at a “drink-in” price. The 120-capacity cocktail bar features four menus, each embodying a dedicated era. Mixologists explain the history of each cocktail, its relationship to other cocktails, and analyse its ingredients and flavours, while cocktails are accompanied by small plates. Jail cells within the bar – remnants from the building’s use as a police station in the 19th century – host tasting experiences including classes on whisky, rum, gin and beer. Each vault houses ten to 15 guests. The cocktail classes take place in a range of lounge spaces for up to 170 guests in total, available for private hire as studios or events spaces.

Fuller’s launches London Pride Unfiltered: London brewer and retailer Fuller’s has launched London Pride Unfiltered – the brewer’s biggest beer launch in a generation. The 4.1% ABV, unfiltered variant comes in 30-litre kegs and is aimed at opening the brand up to a “new consumer and a new drinking occasion”. The beer is brewed true to London Pride’s original recipe but is dry hopped after to add character and flavour. With a goal of making the beer as natural as possible the beer is centrifuged, but not filtered or pasteurised, to retain taste and complexity. The company said London Pride Unfiltered has been “unashamedly designed to appeal to today’s younger consumer”. It is the first time since its launch in 1959 that the London Pride name and recipe has been used to diversify the range. Fuller’s Beer Company managing director Simon Dodd said: “London Pride on cask is a truly great beer and cask ale is, and always will be, the backbone of Fuller’s beer range. However, the recent investment we have made in brands like Frontier Craft Lager have proved Fuller’s has relevance to different consumers and different drinking occasions and we can compete in today’s dynamic beer arena with our own range of very drinkable beers. The London Pride brand name has heritage and authenticity and we feel the time has come to leverage these qualities and bring London Pride to a more contemporary environment.” Head brewer Georgina Young added: “By only using a centrifuge, we get a hazy beer but retain additional flavour to give London Pride Unfiltered more of the traditional character you have in the cask beer than in the conventional London Pride keg version.”

Starbucks brand perception takes hit following refugees hire vow: Starbucks’ pledge to hire refugees in response to President Donald Trump’s travel ban may end up hitting the company’s pockets. Starbucks’ “brand perception” has slipped dramatically since chief executive Howard Schultz vowed to hire 10,000 migrants in 75 countries during the next five years, according to the YouGov Brand Index. The research found the company’s rating had dropped by two-thirds since late January, when Schultz announced his new policy. Two days before the announcement, 30% of consumers said they would consider buying from Starbucks. Since the announcement, that number has dropped to 24%, the Mail Online reports. On 20 January, Schultz wrote in a letter to employees: “We are in business to inspire and nurture the human spirit, one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time – whether that neighbourhood is in a red state or a blue state; a Christian country or a Muslim country; a divided nation or a united nation. That will not change. You have my word on that.” 

Healthy eating concept Skinny Kitchen makes Northern Ireland debut, third UK site: Healthy eating concept Skinny Kitchen has opened a restaurant in Belfast, the brand’s third UK site. The restaurant in Boucher Road operates a no-booking policy and offers a menu that “takes conventional meals and uses a waistline-friendly approach”. Dishes include lean steak mince and sweet potato chips, flaxseed waffles, protein bowls, low-carb pizzas and guilt-free desserts, alongside low-calorie cocktails and fresh pressed juices. The company uses locally sourced, natural ingredients such as free-range eggs and meat and aims to satisfy the needs of various diets, from high protein/low carb to vegan and vegetarian. The concept was launched in Ibiza in 2014 by former Bournemouth University student David Mason and three friends, who were looking for somewhere to eat that meant “all their hard work in the gym before their summer holiday didn’t go to waste”. When they couldn’t find anywhere, they decided to set up their own business on the island under the banner “eat clean, rave dirty”. Skinny Kitchen is backed by investors in the Lineker’s and Ocean Beach Club brands. The other Skinny Kitchen sites are in Bournemouth, Canterbury, and two in Ibiza.

BrewDog reveals its year in numbers: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has revealed the numbers behind the company’s performance in 2016. BrewDog, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, opened nine bars in 2016 and served 789,876 pints of Punk IPA, making its signature brew the highest-selling craft beer in the UK. It also shipped 214,000 hectolitres of beer by truck and sold 385 different guest beers online. The company brewed 82 different beers during the year, while it also released 259 recipes in its DIY Dog book, a document containing every BrewDog beer made in “one open-source home-brewing bible”. BrewDog increased its workforce during the year to 750, including 405 bar staff, while investor – or Equity Punk – numbers increased to 55,000. In terms of its AGMs, BrewDog said 6,000 Equity punks enjoyed the events at which 48,500 beers were poured and where 20 tours of its Columbus facility took place in eight hours at its Punk AGM USA. The company now has 300,000 followers on social media. This year has already been busy for BrewDog. This month, the company opened its DogTap Columbus brewpub at its new US brewery in Ohio and launched a “puppy parental leave” initiative for staff. During 2017, the company also plans to launch a bottling line, refrigerated supply chain, and sour brewpub in Ohio as well as a new book and updates to its app and website. Its first batches of Lone Wolf gin and vodka will be released soon and the company will launch a new IPA “some time during the year”.

Heston Blumenthal’s pub to close next month for shake-up of offer: The Michelin-starred pub in Berkshire owned by Heston Blumenthal is to close its doors for a three-week transformation. The Hinds Head in Bray will close on Monday, 27 March to undergo a major redesign. The new look will be themed around the building’s unique history, referencing its origins as a hunting lodge and coaching inn. As part of the refurbishment, the restaurant in High Street will offer a choice of three, four and six-course menus that will change on a monthly basis. The menus will celebrate British cooking and the eclectic style the restaurant has become known for in the past 11 years. On the ground floor, the space will be remodelled to create a larger dining area, but the grade-II listed oak panelling, antique beams and open fireplaces will remain. The wine collection will also be expanded and housed in its own private cellar, with a glass wall overlooking the dining room. Upstairs, guests will be able to explore the newly created lounge space with its own bar, which will be filled with sofas, armchairs, rugs, trophies and candles. A smaller menu of bar snacks will also be available from the kitchen.

Wadworth appoints first brand marketing managers: Brewer and retailer Wadworth has created two positions in line with its updated business strategy implemented under chief executive Chris Welham. Katherine Bond has been appointed beer brand marketing manager for off-trade and export, while Danny Champken comes on board as on-trade beer brand marketing manager. Bond joins from the Pets At Home Vet Group, where she was national campaign marketing manager. Apart from her primary role, Bond will lead the creation of consistent beer branding across all communications, including online, packaging, POS and consumer promotions for off-trade retailers. Champken joins from brewer and operator SA Brain, where he was cask development manager. His remit will see him manage the strategy for beer brands in the on-trade for Wadworth’s own pub estate and national pub company and free trade customers, while working alongside Bond to ensure complete synergy across all channels. He will also look to activate energetic consumer and trade campaigns. Wadworth head of marketing and communications Elaine Beckett said: “Wadworth created these positions as part of its ambitious new strategy and we are delighted to have Katherine and Danny on board to increase brand awareness and ultimately help to grow our beer sales. Their combined energy and experience in consumer marketing and within the hospitality sector makes them a fantastic addition to the Wadworth team.”

Fentimans shines in fastest-growing overseas sales list: Fentimans Botanical Beverages has been listed in the Sunday Times table of Britain’s 100 SMEs with the fastest-growing overseas sales. The drinks manufacturer, which employs 38 staff, has seen an 80.21% rise in international sales growth during the past two years, placing it 30th in the table. The Sunday Times said: “Since 1905, this Northumberland firm has been infusing, blending and botanically brewing ingredients such as ginger, juniper and burdock to create its mixers and soft drinks. Six years ago, Fentimans started focusing on exports and it now sells to more than 70 countries. Strong sales in the US, Belgium and Austria helped overseas sales grow to an annualised £5.9m in 2015.” The annual Sunday Times list is in its third year and ranks British private companies with total sales of between £5m and £25m in their latest year of accounts. Earlier this month, Fentimans reinvented its mixer tasting notes as it looked to kick-start plans to triple turnover. 

Former Flying Pizza owner opens £2m high-end Mediterranean restaurant in Leeds: Martin Pickles, who owned The Flying Pizza restaurant in Leeds that was acquired by San Carlo Group in 2011, has joined forces with fellow entrepreneur Martin Hicks to build a high-end Mediterranean restaurant in the city. The £2m restaurant – Convive – is part of the University of Leeds-owned Weetwood Hall estate but retains an independent identity. Convive seats 120 and features an alfresco area under a retractable roof. It is twinned with Mediterranean restaurants across Europe to create “inspiration through innovative chef swaps and ingredient sourcing”. Pickles will manage the restaurant and look after the strategic direction of the business. After a decade at The Flying Pizza, he ran the Garrick Club’s restaurants and private dining rooms for five years in Covent Garden. This followed 14 years at Langans in London, where he worked alongside Hicks for the first time. Pickles told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “A high-end Mediterranean restaurant is what Leeds has been crying out for and I’m delighted to be back in the city I love and delivering the most exciting restaurant Leeds will have seen in many years.” Hicks is managing director of Weetwood Hall and has established it as a leading conference venue. He said: “We’ve created a true destination restaurant to rival anything in the city centre.” Profits from the Weetwood estate and Convive are gift-aided to the University of Leeds.

Tamarind Collection to launch new Indian dining concept in Soho: Tamarind Collection, which is behind the Michelin-starred Tamarind restaurant in Mayfair, is to launch a new Indian dining concept – Tamarind Kitchen – in Soho this spring. The 100-cover restaurant in Wardour Street will span two floors and feature a private dining room for up to 20 guests and a subterranean, late-night cocktail bar. The interiors will be designed by Russell Sage Studios and blend “soulful touches with the sophisticated”. Tamarind Kitchen will bring a “convivial Indian dining experience to the heart of buzzy Soho”, with reimagined dishes from Tamarind Mayfair. The menu will offer fish, meat, game and vegetarian dishes, with many cooked in an authentic tandoor oven. Starters will include a game platter (tandoor-cooked quail, duck and guinea fowl on a bed of vermicelli), while mains will include a traditional south Indian alappuzha fish curry with kingfish, spiced with tamarind, mustard and curry leaves. Tamarind of Mayfair, which won its Michelin star in 1999, is set to be refurbished early next year, while the group also owns Zaika of Kensington, which holds two AA rosettes. Tamarind Collection also plans to launch a south Indian concept in Fitzrovia.

Former The Square chef and sommelier unite to open modern British cuisine concept Lorne in Victoria: Chef Peter Hall and sommelier Katie Exton have teamed up to launch modern British cuisine concept Lorne in Victoria. The restaurant in Wilton Road aims to make the wine and food of equal importance. Hall and Exton met while working at two Michelin-starred French restaurant The Square in Mayfair and Lorne’s menu focuses on seasonal produce with an emphasis on using trusted suppliers. Exton’s wine list is “concise and regularly changing”, alongside a seasonally changing cocktail list and London-brewed bottled beers, as well as Monmouth Coffee and teas from Rare Tea Company. Exton has also worked at The River Cafe and was head sommelier at Chez Bruce, while Hall formerly worked at three Michelin-starred restaurant Benu in San Francisco. Also involved in the project are restaurateur Clive Watson (Blixen) and chef Phil Howard (The Square, Elystan Street).

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