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Mon 5th Jun 2017 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Stonegate pub portfolio sells for £23m: A package of 13 freehold pubs operated by Stonegate Pub Company has been sold off-market by Aprirose Real Estate Investors, through Coffer Corporate Leisure, in an off-market deal, for £23m. The purchaser was BlackRock. The properties provide long, unbroken leases with 22-and-a-half years unexpired terms and a total passing rent of circa £1.35m per annum, reflecting a net initial yield of 5.5%. The 13 managed pubs in the portfolio are Slug and Lettuce, Southend on Sea; The Surrey Arms, Camberley; The Station, Eastleigh; Slug and Lettuce, Derby; Yates’s, Leicester; Prince of Wales, Chatham; Prince of Wales, Chorley; The Burlington, Chesterfield; The Merchant, Glasgow; The Mailbox, Lincoln; The Crafty Scholar, Lancaster; Yates’s, Blackpool; and The Castle, Blackpool. Mark Sheehan, managing director, Coffer Corporate Leisure, said: “Stonegate is a well-regarded operator with a very strong estate. The properties are long established and highly profitable, let on long leases and benefitting from index-linked growth. This was an off-market transaction that worked well for both parties, resulting from a discreet one-to-one conversation. The public house market in particular is in huge demand with appetite significantly outstripping supply. Institutional investors are attracted by the long leases, index-linked uplifts, strong underlying property value and liquidity of pub assets. Lack of stock remains our biggest issue. The pub market is attracting great demand, demonstrating secure, income producing assets with strong underlying real estate value. What is unique to the pub sector is the level of continuity of trading not seen in other asset classes. Now is a fantastic time for investors and operators alike to consider capitalising on the excess demand in the market.” Geoffrey Shaw, portfolio manager at BlackRock, said: “Pubs provide a great diversifier for our clients as the demand drivers have a low correlation to other sectors such as hotels, offices or car parks. The assets are run by a very experienced management team and the individual lot sizes make the properties very liquid. We believe in collaboration with our investment partners and this was another example where all parties involved collaborated seamlessly to complete this transaction.” Coffer Corporate Leisure advised Aprirose Real Estate Investors. BlackRock was advised by Fleurets.

Industry News:

Propel Multi-Club summer conference open for bookings, two free places for operators: The Propel Multi-Club summer conference and party is now open for bookings. The event, which takes place on Thursday, 6 July at the Oxford Belfry, which is just off the M40, will also involve the Propel summer party in the evening. Operators can claim two free places by emailing Jo Charity on jo.charity@propelinfo.com. The speaker line-up for the morning session is NPD Group UK foodservice director Cyril LavenantMorar Consulting chief executive Roger PerowneDavid Bruce, co-founder of Firkin Pubs, The Capital Pub Company and The City Pub companies and currently chairman of The West Berkshire Brewery, and Ali Khan and Samrien Hussain, who operate escape rooms business Tick Tock Unlocked. Speaking after lunch are Marston’s Revere Pub Company managing director Colin SadlerThe Breakfast Club co-founder Jonathan Arana-Morton, and Black and White Hospitality chief executive Nick Taplin. The final session features Tahola commercial director Simon BlackbourneMowgli owner Nisha KatonaAmber Taverns managing director James Baer, and Rupert Clevely, managing director of Ei Group’s managed expert joint venture Hippo Inns.
 
Yorkshire crowned UK’s fish and chip shop capital: Yorkshire has more fish and chip shops than any other county in the UK, according to new research by the National Federation of Fish Friers. The federation found Yorkshire has more than 1,700 chippies, with more than one-fifth of its inhabitants visiting a fish and chip shop every week and more than half (56%) buying fish and chips to eat in the home as a family meal. Caroline Murphy, director of Wetherby Whaler Fish and Chip Restaurants, which operates five venues across the county, told The Business Desk: “Yorkshire has a fine tradition of serving the best seafood in Britain and our fish and chips in particular are world famous – and with good reason!” Welcome To Yorkshire chief executive Sir Gary Verity added: “Yorkshire fish and chips are the best in the world.”

Stability needed to protect hospitality sector warns Lynx Purchasing: The hospitality sector urgently needs a period of market stability to help operators deal with the impact of food and drink inflation regardless of the outcome of the General Election, buying specialist Lynx Purchasing has warned. With the summer 2017 edition of the Lynx Purchasing Market Forecast showing a slight decline in the rate at which prices are rising, Lynx managing director Rachel Dobson said: “Whoever is in government after Thursday (8 June), they will be getting down to almost two years of detailed Brexit negotiations. While it’s inevitable there will be political debate about the outcome on both sides of the channel, we can only hope the markets continue to take a more pragmatic view. The impact of the fall in the value of sterling after the Brexit vote has now been more-or-less priced in by suppliers, so there is potentially a period of greater stability ahead if the markets focus on the long-term picture rather than constantly react to speculation.” The Market Forecast shows the “Lynxometer”, a basket of food and drink bought regularly by Lynx Purchasing customers, increased by 6% over the 12 months to June 2017, down from 9% in March. Dobson added: “Prices are still rising, but not as fast, which is some respite for operators.” Lynx reported dairy is the food product that has seen the most inflation, up 9% in a year. 

Company News:

Oh You Pretty Things co-founder – ‘we can grow to a 50-strong estate’: Norris Panton, co-founder of champagne and cocktail bar Oh You Pretty Things, has told Propel he believes the concept can grow to a 50-strong estate. The company currently has four sites in UK shopping centres and opened its first concession – Champagne Stories – with John Lewis at its department store in Oxford Street, London, in April. Oh You Pretty Things aims to open further concessions in the future and Panton, who founded the company with Craig Ince, said the John Lewis site was “just the start”. He added: “If you look beyond John Lewis, there is plenty of opportunity with the shopping centre pipeline and other large retailers. Then there are train stations and airports. I think we can get up to 50 sites in the UK. I see a lot of potential with transport hubs – people enjoying a glass of champagne or a cocktail before getting on a train or plane.” Panton said the John Lewis site was “performing in line with expectations” and it was now working on refining the offer to make sure it was delivering the “best possible service”. He added: “We are making incremental changes at the moment to make sure this is right. We won’t do anything else until we are happy. We are still getting to know John Lewis’ customers and we will spend the next three to six months doing that to make sure we are giving them the best possible experience. We were approached by John Lewis. We think our customer is very similar to theirs so they go very well together.” Oh You Pretty Things aims to raise £750,000 on crowdfunding platform Growthdeck to support its expansion plans. The company is offering a 20% equity stake in return for the investment and, so far, 24 investors have pledged £471,000. It anticipates a trade sale in three to five years that could generate a 61.2% internal rate of return for investors if the business develops as expected. Panton said he felt crowdfunding was the right route given the amount of money the company was trying to raise. He added: “It’s our baby and we’ve spent five or six years building up the business and we think raising the money through angel and high-net-worth investors is the way to go.”

Craft beer bar and wholesaler The Bottle Shop reports profit boost: Craft beer bar and wholesaler The Bottle Shop, which is looking to raise £350,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, has reported a profit boost. The company, founded by Andrew Morgan in 2010, said having made a “small” profit in the last financial year, it had seen that increase to £84,000 in the six months to April. Morgan said: “This really shows the pendulum swinging in the right direction for us and the ColdChain will really help ensure our profitability continues to grow.” The Bottle Shop is offering a 10.14% equity stake in return for the investment as it looks to double its retail estate as part of expansion plans. The Bottle Shop currently has three sites – in Bermondsey, south east London, and Canterbury and Margate in Kent. Its wholesale customers include better burger brand Byron, Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog and Curzon Cinemas. The Bottle Shop plans to use some of the funds raised to open two new London bars as well as a distribution hub and bar in Manchester. So far, 156 investors have pledged £138,360 with 13 days remaining. The largest investment to date is £50,000. The pitch states: “The funds will be used to refrigerate our London warehouse to create our ColdChain platform, open two new London shops in the next 12 months, and a distribution hub/bar in Manchester. With the ColdChain platform in place, we forecast £4.9m turnover for FY17/18 – up from £3.1m in FY16/17.”
 
Des Gunewardena – ‘eating-out market still has long-term growth’: D&D London chairman and chief executive Des Gunewardena has said the eating-out market still has long-term growth as he looks to build a 50-strong restaurant portfolio in the UK. Gunewardena added the company, which has 29 restaurants in London and eight outside the capital, also plans to add to its sites overseas. He told the Evening Standard: “D&D’s expansion has increased partly because we’re a bigger company now so we are making more cash, which is obviously needed to open new restaurants, and partly because we still believe the eating-out market in London and elsewhere is a long-term growth market. Whatever happens with Brexit, we think London will remain a great place to run restaurants.” In terms of expansion in the capital, Gunewardena said: “Paddington is an interesting area. It’s very central but hasn’t really blossomed. That could finally be on the cards with the effect of Crossrail and the eventual expansion of Heathrow. Down south there are interesting areas around Canada Water. One day we would like to open a really bold, buzzy Indian restaurant, and perhaps a Chinese and more Japanese restaurants. These cuisines have become very popular and at the top end I think there is still a shortage of those restaurants compared with demand.” Gunewardena said the company also planned to roll-out its Bluebird Cafe concept more widely, with hopes to have “three or four” by this time next year. He added the biggest thing with Brexit for the company was staff. He said: “Due to the nature of our restaurants, which serve a lot of European food, we have as many Italians working for us as we do Brits, and there are a lot of French people too. It’s a big issue for us and we are lobbying directly with government, saying ‘dream on if you think London and the UK can continue to grow and not have staff from overseas’. It is just not possible. However, I am optimistic at the end of the day common sense will prevail.”
 
Grace Land opens fifth site: Grace Land, the London-based pub group backed by the founders of Barworks, has opened its fifth site – The Axe in Stoke Newington. Formerly Jan’s Bar, the site has had an extensive refurbishment including new kitchen and redesigned beer garden. The beer selection will be similar to other Grace Land sites with speciality beers showcasing the best breweries locally and abroad. Wines and negroni cocktails will also be on tap. The food offering will be based around typical pub classics. Anselm Chatwin, managing director of the group, said he was delighted to open a pub in Stoke Newington with its “vibrant mix of new operators and older pubs”.
 
Boxpark branded ‘boozepark’ following licence extension plans: Boxpark Shoreditch has been branded “boozepark” by neighbours objecting to its move to extend licensing hours. Boxpark has submitted requests for a licence allowing alcohol to be served from an unspecified number of bars on the first floor from midday to 11pm every day except Sunday, when the venues would close at 8.30pm. The Metropolitan Police, residents’ groups and more than 20 neighbours have objected. One said Boxpark had “swiftly plummeted downmarket to become a huge, noisy beer tent that bombards the surrounding neighbourhood with very loud music”. The Jago Action Group, made up of residents and businesses, stated: “Boxpark – now often known locally as boozepark – originally received planning permission only on the basis of an explicit assurance there would be no licensed premises in the development.” Boxpark chief executive Roger Wade, who opened the site in 2011, told the Evening Standard: “Boxpark has consulted extensively with police and local community groups. We have incorporated the majority of their comments in our new licence. Unfortunately, a no-noise clause is not workable.” The application is due to go before Hackney’s licensing committee on Tuesday (6 June). In April, Wade told Propel he would refocus the offer at Shoreditch to focus on food and beverage operators after signing a three-year lease extension.

Luke Johnson joins board of Elegant Hotels: Sector investor Luke Johnson is joining Caribbean group Elegant Hotels as a non-executive director. Barbados-based Elegant Hotels runs seven properties and a beachfront restaurant. Johnson owns 11.1 million shares, representing about 12.5% of the company’s issued share capital. Chairman Simon Sherwood said: “We are delighted to be welcoming someone of Luke’s calibre and experience to the board of Elegant Hotels. His wealth of leisure industry knowledge and his outstanding track record of helping companies to achieve their ambitious growth plans will be hugely additive to the group as it continues to carry out its expansion programme in Barbados and the wider Caribbean. We see significant potential for continuing to enhance the food and beverage offering within our portfolio, and Luke’s expertise in that sector will therefore be particularly valuable.”
 
Tim Hortons opens first UK site, in Glasgow: Tim Hortons, the Canadian cafe and bake shop owned by Restaurant Brands, has opened its first UK site, in Glasgow. SK Group, an experienced franchise operator that has already played a major role in the UK expansion of Domino’s Pizza, has opened the venue in Argyle Street. The launch is to be followed by a “12-month rapid expansion into other major regional cities” throughout Britain later in the year, with plans for a minimum of 100 sites in total. The menu includes Tim Hortons’ signature coffee, espresso-based drinks, hot chocolate, French vanilla and classic frozen Iced Capp, as well as baked goods and breakfast and lunch offerings. Tim Hortons was founded in 1964 by its namesake, a professional ice hockey player who wanted to create a space where “everyone would feel at home”.

Howard Shultz – Starbucks has the antidote to Donald Trump: Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz has been caught on a leaked video from a staff meeting telling employees Donald Trump is creating “chaos”. Shultz was speaking to staff members at a meeting in Seattle in February, two months before he stepped down as chief executive, when he unloaded on the president’s performance. “The world is screwed up,” he said in the video. “People are unsettled. There’s tremendous amount of pressure and anxiety in America. We have a president who is creating an episodic chaos every day, and it is no doubt affecting consumer behavior and consumer sentiment.” Shultz, who stepped down in April, added the coffee chain is uniquely positioned to deal with the troubles presented by Trump. He added: “We have an antidote, we always have. And that’s the sense of community, the third place, and the environment that we create around family.”

Thomasina Miers – Wahaca will be ‘more experimental’ in future as she aims to break from chain image: Thomasina Miers has said her Mexican restaurant brand Wahaca will be “more experimental” in the future as it prepares to celebrate its tenth anniversary. Miers, a former MasterChef winner who launched the company in 2007 with Mark Selby, added she was keen to move away from being known as “that chain Wahaca” and instead push customers with “more unusual” food. She told the Evening Standard: “I have done a lot of travelling in Mexico and have had a new lease of life. I want to sharpen the menu, be more experimental. I want to be pushing customers. There seems to be a real thirst for authenticity now. I want us to be a bit more unusual, to break away from the chain image. I can’t wait to introduce people to the different regional food I love from Mexico. There is a huge variety of cuisine there –we want to be celebrating all the different regions and the different tastes.” Wahaca has 26 sites in the UK and last month was given the go-ahead to open a restaurant in Birmingham.

Tennent’s Lager launches ‘Here to Serve’ campaign: C&C Group’s Tennent’s Lager brand is launching a campaign called “Here to Serve”. Acting like a public utility, the brewer is packing the summer months with activity in bars, stores and city centres, both online and offline. Paul Condron, marketing director at Tennent’s, said: “This is an exciting time in Tennent’s history. ‘Here to Serve’ is going to be unmissable throughout the summer and beyond. As Scotland’s longest established brewer our primary concern is serving Scotland and providing that service in a way that only Tennent’s Lager can – raising a smile with everything we do. We’ll be taking advantage of every possible opportunity to help drive sales through the tills of Scotland’s pubs, clubs, bars, convenience stores and supermarkets, and we can’t wait to get started. We’ve also got a number of exciting digital initiatives planned over the course of the next few months, making life easier for our customers whenever we can.”

Caprice Holdings signs to open first Ivy site in Scotland, in Edinburgh’s St Andrew Square: Caprice Holdings, owned by Richard Caring, has signed a 25-year lease to bring The Ivy brand to Edinburgh – at a site in St Andrew Square. The company signed the deal with investment group Standard Life, which owns the entire south side of the square following a series of high-profile acquisitions. The 130-cover Ivy On The Square will occupy a 5,500 square foot corner unit and feature a bar and mezzanine terrace. The kitchen will be led by Sean Burbidge, executive chef at The Ivy Collection and former head chef at Gordon Ramsay’s Pétrus. The restaurant is due to open in the autumn and the group said it would hold back a number of tables throughout the day and evening to reflect its “dedication to local restaurants for local diners”. David Stewart, fund manager of Standard Life Investments’ pooled property pension fund, told The Scotsman: “It’s a great boost to Edinburgh that The Ivy has committed to St Andrew Square for its first launch in Scotland.” Last week, Caprice Holdings continued regional expansion of its Ivy brasserie concept by opening sites in Cobham, Surrey, and Marlow, Buckinghamshire.
 
Friends of Ham opens second charcuterie and wine bar in Leeds, third site in total: Friends of Ham has opened its second charcuterie and wine bar in Leeds and its third in total. The 60-cover Ham and Friends has launched in Merrion Street in the city’s Northern Quarter featuring two private dining rooms available for hire. The venue features a food hall, walk-in cheese room, wine mezzanine and bar spread across two floors. The concept offers fresh meat, fruit and vegetables from local farms alongside retail products from small independent British producers and small UK distributors that import Italian and Spanish charcuterie, and French cheese and wine. The mezzanine offers 200 bottles of minimal-intervention and small-production wine made using traditional techniques and a list of 20 wines by the glass. Customers can also choose any bottle from the wine mezzanine to drink in-house. The venue is also the new home of the Yorkshire Wine School, which offers wine and beer qualifications, classes and workshops in its own custom-built space, The Business Desk reports. The venue will host speciality events, including a wine versus beer pairing with Cannon & Cannon, ham carving with Brindisa, and monthly wine and cheese clubs. Friends of Ham launched its eponymous debut site in New Station Street, Leeds, in July 2012, expanding to open a venue in Ilkley in August 2015.
 
Former Patty & Bun chef to open burger restaurant concept in Bristol: Former Patty & Bun chef Lucien Gordon is to open a burger restaurant concept in Bristol. Gordon is launching Asado, which means barbecue in Spanish, in Colston Street. The restaurant, which will open later this month, will serve organic, locally sourced meat with West Country cheese, alongside grilled plates, seasonal specials, sides, salads and desserts. The drinks menu will include a classic and seasonal range of cocktails. Gordon, who decided to move back to Bristol after working at Patty & Bun in London, told the Bristol Post: “We will be cooking over a wood-fired asado grill and using the highest-quality locally sourced ingredients.”
 
Coppa Club gets licence approval for Maidenhead site: Sector investor Hugh Osmond has been granted a licence to open a site for his Coppa Club concept in Maidenhead, Berkshire. Osmond, who launched Coppa Club in nearby Sonning-on-Thames, has been granted permission by the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead for the restaurant at the new Chapel Arches complex. The venue will be housed on the ground floor of the Shanly Group Picturehouse development, reports the Maidenhead Advertiser. Coppa Club also has three sites in London – in Oxford Circus, St Paul’s and Tower Bridge – and is looking to add to its portfolio with outlets in Henley and Brighton. Osmond worked with Luke Johnson to launch the flotation of PizzaExpress in 1993. Osmond founded Punch in 1997 and private equity firm Sun Capital Partners in 2001, which acquired Strada in 2014.
 
Las Iguanas grows marketing database after Feed It Back launch, getting 550 pieces of feedback per restaurant a month: Las Iguanas, the South American-inspired restaurant brand owned by Casual Dining Group, has said it has grown its marketing database and improved its guest experience faster since introducing Feed It Back, the EPOS-linked guest feedback service. The restaurant company said it has seen on average 550 pieces of feedback per restaurant per month. It said 33% of guests using Feed It Back signed up to its marketing database with 57% of those people being new customers. Las Iguanas, which has 54 restaurants, has also seen a 30% increase in TripAdvisor reviews as measured at the end of March since going live with the service in February. Feed It Back is the only guest feedback system that integrates in real time with Zonal’s Aztec EPOS system, among others, enabling feedback questions to be personalised to the guest’s visit. As a next step, Feed It Back will automatically update Las Iguanas’ CRM system with guest preferences – for example, a guest has eaten from the gluten-free or kids’ menu. Chief operating officer Gareth Lock said: “We had lots of guest reviews and comments before using Feed It Back but the elapsed time from guest comment to staff action was protracted. With Feed It Back, we have reduced this time dramatically. The result is that we can identify and resolve issues before other guests are affected.” Guest experience manager Lisa Campbell added: “We are getting 550 pieces of feedback per restarant per month, on average. That helps us to make decisions because the size of the sample means the real issues come up again and again. As such, business cases are easily constructed and quickly approved to solve service, training, food quality and specific site issues.”
 
Gourmet Burger Kitchen to launch Leicester site next month: Gourmet Burger Kitchen will make its debut in Leicester next month. Work is under way at a unit in Highcross shopping centre, with boards surrounding the site announcing “incoming burger joy”. The company is investing £1.25m to convert the former Laura Ashley store into a 122-cover restaurant, which is due to open on Monday, 3 July creating 30 jobs. The venue will be set over two floors and include an open kitchen with customers able to choose banquette or booth seating. Gourmet Burger Kitchen marketing manager Laura Pettingale told Leicester Mercury: “We picked Highcross as it’s been developed massively over recent years and offers a great retail experience for our future customers.” Gourmet Burger Kitchen has more than 80 sites in the UK, with its nearest restaurants to Leicester in Nottingham and Leamington Spa.
 
Splendid Hospitality Group opens Rise restaurant: Splendid Hospitality Group has opened all-day restaurant The Rise at The Grand Hotel & Spa in York. Chef Craig Atchinson has created a menu that includes small plates, larger dishes, a junior menu, sweet plates and cheeses, plus a breakfast offering including buffet and plated options, and a modern take on afternoon tea. The Rise will feature live music on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Philip Bolson, general manager of The Grand Hotel & Spa, told The Business Desk: “It is an incredibly exciting time for those of us working here in the hotel amid our expansion and development.” Later this year, Splendid Hospitality Group will add a new accommodation wing and refurbish Hudson’s fine dining restaurant at the hotel. The company operates 20 hotels across the UK.
 
Adnams scoops Footprint Award for sustainability: Sustainability champions were recognised at the annual Footprint Awards, which took place at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London. Suffolk brewer and retailer Adnams was named “sustainable supplier” for its environmental gearing initiative, while The Clink Charity won the social impact and diversity category. Young’s Foodservice won the “sustainable use of natural resources” category for its Project Trawlight, while McDonald’s won the commitment to animal welfare category, and Coca-Cola European Partners and Kinneir Dufort won the innovations in packaging category for The Twist Bottle. Environment journalist Charles Clover was given a special achievement award – his book The End of The Line and the award-winning documentary it inspired brought the problems of overfishing into the public eye. Footprint chief executive Charles Miers said: “The standards keep going up, year on year. The judges were all struck by how much measureable difference is being made.”
 
M&B to hold craft beer festival across Castle Pubs estate: Mitchells & Butlers will hold The Craft Beer Festival again this summer across its Castle Pubs estate. The six-week event will run from Thursday (8 June) until Saturday, 15 July at more than 100 pubs nationwide and offerings will include an exclusive selection of craft beer from independent American brewer Sierra Nevada – ten on keg plus Sierra Nevada German IPA in bottles. Mitchells & Butlers drinks procurement manager Ben Lockwood said: “We’re so excited to have such an excellent mix of beers on offer covering different styles and flavours from well-known producers through to up and coming breweries, especially the Sierra Nevada beers hitting UK shores for the first time.”
 
Marston’s opens £3m new-build pub in Nottingham: Marston’s has opened its £3m new-build pub in Nottingham. It has opened the Tuck and Tanner in Top Valley on the site of the Royal Hunt pub, which was demolished in 2005. Marston’s has spent the past six months working on the site, with the opening creating 45 jobs. The Tuck and Tanner is part of the company’s Generous George brand and features its own ice-cream parlour, a designated pool and games area, and offers six hand-pulled craft ales. Steve Westby, chairman of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) in Nottingham, told the Nottingham Post: “Marston’s seems to be opening new-build pubs across the country and it is obviously working for them. We haven’t had many new-build pubs in our area but from a CAMRA point of view we welcome it as we welcome all new pubs. The fact this pub will replace a pub that was lost is important.” Last week, Marston’s announced it would open a new-build pub on the site of Skegness Town’s former football ground in July.
 
Carlsberg UK adds contest winner Toast Ale to new crafted portfolio: Carlsberg UK has launched its latest Crafted Handbook, which includes Toast Ale, the winner of its inaugural Your Beer, Here? competition. The competition, open to craft brewers and importers, was launched in February. The handbook includes 65 beers and ciders, including five new draught and 12 new packaged world, craft and speciality beers. Rob Wilson, of Toast Ale, said: “Although we are a relatively young company, we are ambitious and see this as a fantastic chance to share our brew and message with an established and wide network of national contacts.” Crafted at Carlsberg UK marketing manager Adrian Rigby added: “We are committed to developing and growing the craft beer category, which has seen huge growth in popularity over recent years. Toast Ale is a unique beer that embodies and reflects our values and ambition.” Toast Ale sources surplus loaves from bakeries and sandwich-makers for its brewing process while donating to local food waste organisations.
 
Bar operator to open LGBT-friendly site in Bolton: Entrepreneur James Kofoed, who operates bars in Liverpool and Glasgow, is to open a site in Bolton. Kofoed is launching Mansion in Nelson Square on the site of the former Vogue nightclub. The venue will specifically be aimed at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) revellers. The site is being refurbished ahead of reopening on Friday, 30 June. It will also host entertainment including live drag acts. Kofoed told the Bolton News: “There are places that hold LGBT nights but this will be open every night and be a safe hub. Hopefully it will mean people won’t feel they have to travel out of town to have a good night.”
 
Krispy Kreme to make Nottingham debut: Krispy Kreme is to open its first site in Nottingham, in the Intu Victoria shopping centre’s Clocktower dining area this summer. The venue will seat 25 people and offer the brand’s doughnuts and shakes. Intu general manager Nigel Wheatley told the Nottingham Post: “Our Clocktower dining area is the perfect city centre destination for Krispy Kreme to attract customers in Nottingham for the first time.” In March, Krispy Kreme opened its 1,000th location, and first in Peru. The company now operates stores in 31 countries, with development agreements in several others. There are more than 80 Krispy Kreme stores across Britain, with the nearest site to Nottingham in Derby.
 
Heartstone Inns like-for-likes up 4%, eighth successive rise, sales up 17%: Heartstone Inns, the managed pub operator of quality freehold food-led pubs, has reported sales rose 17% to £9.6m in the year to December 2016. True like-for-like sales improved by 4%, the eighth year of successive growth. Pub Ebitda improved 29% to £1.8m, representing an operating margin of 18.2% compared with 16.6% in 2015 and 15.8% in 2014. Continued financial growth saw the company pay its maiden dividend in June 2016, with a second divided to be paid this month. Heartstone began the year with 12 pubs and ended it with 14 having acquired the Bathurst Arms in Gloucestershire in June 2016 and the Talbot in Dorset in October. The Bathurst Arms in North Cerney has six letting rooms and was acquired on a long-term, free-of-tie lease from a private landlord. The pub is the company’s first lease, with Heartstone owning the freehold of all its other pubs. The Talbot is a roadside pub with seven letting rooms in Iwerne Minster, Dorset. Heartstone invested £1.5m in its estate in 2016, with the two acquisitions and extensive developments at the Cockhaven Arms in Devon and Cricketers in Dorset, along with several smaller projects across the estate. Already this year, Heartstone has completed a 50-cover restaurant extension at the Bun Penny in Hampshire, an extensive refurbishment at the Walhampton in Hampshire, and the addition of two guest bedrooms at the Talbot, among other projects. Heartstone Inns managing director James Birch said: “We are delighted to have delivered such a strong operating performance in 2016 while continuing to lay the foundations for future growth by adding great sites and carrying out sympathetic developments. The company has a strong balance sheet, has the firepower to continue to grow and is pleased to be rewarding shareholders with dividends. Already in 2017 we have completed a number of internal developments and we have more in the pipeline, along with a number of interesting acquisition opportunities. The company is performing well, with like-for-like sales more than 3% up on last year.”

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