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Fri 14th Jul 2017 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Eating out remains at heart of UK spending even as financial pressures grow: Eating out has remained at the heart of UK spending in the second quarter of the year even as financial pressures grow, according to the latest Cardlytics Spending Index. Figures from the report, which is based on the spending behaviour of more than three million bank customers, showed overall spending was up 3% year-on-year but down from the 9% growth seen in 2016. Restaurants (up 9% year-on-year) and quick-serve restaurants (up 19% year-on-year) continued to be the main drivers of spending with eating out now representing almost one-tenth (9%) of consumers’ wallet share. This is a leap of two percentage points since the beginning of 2015, when Cardlytics started tracking spending. The findings are in line with recent data revealing the contribution of the hospitality industry to the British economy has outpaced growth in every other sector since the 2008 downturn. There is a wider trend of consumers wanting to treat themselves during the leaner times. In addition to increases in restaurant spending, airline and hotel spend is up year-on-year (12% and 9% respectively). The leisure industry experienced a 6% increase in spending in the second quarter compared with the previous year, and a 9.5% spike since the last quarter. Additionally, the grocery sector has gained some momentum, with spending up 3% in the second quarter compared with this time last year, and 6% up on the last quarter as the combination of hot weather and food inflation lifted supermarket sales. Pete Gleason, ‎president of international operations at Cardlytics, said: “This data shows just how much the UK loves eating out. Even amid a squeeze on household finances, spending in restaurants and cafes continues to go from strength to strength. The increased demand is good for hospitality but with the sector set for further growth in the form of increased competition, brands will have to work even harder to stand out and attract new customers. But elsewhere, with consumers cutting back on spending, it’s clear brands will have to adjust to a new normal of low spending growth and focus on offering value.”

Industry News:

Haysmacintyre and Propel benchmarking survey launches: The fourth annual haysmacintyre UK Hospitality Index benchmarking survey for multi-site pub, restaurant and foodservice operators in association with Propel has launched. The foremost financial benchmarking study for pubs, restaurants and bars – covering trading, staffing, capital and funding, and property – the survey report will deliver quality financial data and benchmarking intelligence to help hospitality businesses understand their sector better and improve operations. If you would like to complete the survey and receive the final report, please click here. The survey closes on Wednesday, 26 July. Information provided will be reproduced anonymously in this year’s haysmacintyre UK Hospitality Index report, which will be published in September. Data and comments will not be attributed to respondents.

Social Media for Profit masterclass opens for bookings: Propel has partnered with WE ARE Spectacular founder and group chief executive Mark McCulloch to launch the Social Media for Profit masterclass. This social media “boot camp” will give attendees the knowledge to go toe-to-toe with their marketing department, team and social media agency while helping them add value to their social media strategy. The half-day event takes place on Thursday, 14 September at One Moorgate Place in London and will give delegates insights into how to build their sales and brand using social media. McCulloch will explain how the social media game has changed as well as providing an in-depth introduction to the different channels, their purpose and the new social media landscape. The event will also include sessions on each of the main social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and how they should be used to drive sales as well as target potential customers with the right message. The boot camp will also include a session on how to tackle a social media disaster, from tiny blips to a national crisis. Tickets are £345 + VAT for operators, £445 + VAT for suppliers and £295 + VAT for Propel Premium subscribers. To book a place, email or call 01444 817691.

US consumers eat fewer burgers as prices rise: Fewer US consumers are eating burgers compared with previous years with restaurants feeling the effects, according to insights firm Technomic. The company’s 2017 Burger Consumer Trend Report revealed that while 56% of consumers said they ate burgers at least once a week, this is down from roughly two-thirds of consumers in 2013, and consumers said they were now preparing a higher percentage of their burgers at home. These shifts in consumption align with the increased availability of other foodservice options, especially at fast-casual and retailers, and the 15% increase in burger prices at leading chains since 2013. Meanwhile, 35% of consumers said it was very important restaurants offered burgers with new and unique flavours, while 26% said breakfast burgers were highly appealing, up from 22% in 2015. Almost half (48%) said it was very important burgers were made from never-frozen beef. Anne Mills, manager of consumer insights at Technomic, said: “Burgers are becoming a more premium option as pricier toppings such as brisket, fried eggs and avocado trend up on menus. While these ingredients are satisfying demands for new and unique burgers, increasing prices may make burgers a less practical option and push consumers to more affordable alternatives, especially as retail prices for burgers drop.”

Industry engagement is key to Brexit bill success, says ALMR: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has called on the government to work collaboratively with sector businesses to ensure an efficient transition following the publication of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “We hope this can be the beginning of a productive period for the government that ultimately provides additional support and opportunities for the UK’s businesses. The ALMR will liaise with the government to ensure eating and drinking out businesses are represented and the valuable contribution the sector makes economically and socially is factored into the government’s strategy for success. Naturally, the bill deals with a wide range of complex issues that will necessitate a nuanced approach from the government. It is vital the government works closely with businesses and encourages collaborative working with employers, trade bodies and experts. It is imperative all necessary mechanisms for trading must be in place for the day the UK leaves the EU. There is an opportunity for the UK government to empower businesses to grow and invest more, particularly with a VAT and excise duty regime that benefits eating and drinking out businesses. This can be most easily achieved if businesses are (allowed) input into discussions around the legislation that directly affects them.”

European hotel industry reports 24% rise in rooms under construction in June: The European hotel industry has reported a 24% increase in the number of rooms under construction in June compared with last year. STR’s June pipeline report showed 77,263 rooms in 495 hotels under construction. The number of rooms under contract was up 17.5% compared with the previous year – 169,046 rooms in 1,100 hotels. Under contract includes projects in the “in construction”, “final planning” and “planning stages” but does not include projects in the “unconfirmed stage”. Among segments, upper midscale accounted for the largest portion of rooms under contract (27.5% with 46,516 rooms), while the upscale segment represented the largest portion of rooms under construction (25.3% with 19,570 rooms).

Company News:

Speratus Group reports turnover and profit boost: Bar and restaurant operator The Speratus Group has reported a turnover and profit boost. The company, which operates the Boozy Cow brand, saw turnover increase to £9,361,679 for the year ending 31 October 2016, compared with £8,515,948 the previous year. Pre-tax profit was up to £399,493 compared with £222,807 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. The company stated: “The expansion of the Boozy Cow concept continued with the company opening a venue in Stirling in September 2016. To facilitate the planned expansion of the Boozy Cow brand, the company sold three of its units during the year realising a gain on disposal. Following the year-end, the company reinvested part of the disposal proceeds in the purchase of a property in Dundee, which has been refurbished and operates as the company’s fourth Boozy Cow venue. During the year, the company donated £263,000 to charities arising from profits from the Boozy Cow units. It is intended that on an annual basis, the profits from the Boozy Cow will be donated to charities in areas where Boozy Cow units are located. The directors continue to look at opportunities to expand the Boozy Cow brand into other locations in the UK. All of the company’s units traded satisfactorily and contributed to the group’s results for the year but, in common with other hospitality operators in Aberdeen, the impact of the lower oil price on the local economy had an effect on trading.”

Freehold of Reading site let to Be At One sells for £1,375,000: The freehold of a site in Reading let to Be At One until 2041 without break clauses has sold at an Allsop auction for £1,375,000. The company pays a rent of £85,000 per annum, which means the buyer of the property is earning a yield of 5.8%. Allsop raised a total of £83.5m in the auction, driven by investor demand for larger lots and well-let retail assets, with 84% of the lots sold. Allsop partner Duncan Moir said: “With the general election behind us, investors returned to the auction room with renewed vigour and optimism to compete for income-producing assets across the UK. High-value lots were among the strongest performers.” Moir said over 100 assets had sold so far this year for more than £1m, with no let-up in sight regarding demand and 96% of buyers saying “they would like to buy again”. Allsop has raised £345m this year, with an average success rate of 84%.

Laura Ashley to launch debut tea room in Solihull ahead of ‘distinguished’ high street roll-out: British design brand Laura Ashley is to enter the foodservice sector when it opens its debut tea room on Wednesday, 19 July. The Laura Ashley Tea Room will open at The Regency Hotel in Solihull ahead of a national roll-out next year. The venue will be decorated in the signature Laura Ashley style and offer a menu consisting of sandwiches, freshly baked scones, and a selection of homemade cakes and pastries. Diners will have a selection of teas to choose from but will be able to opt instead for prosecco or champagne for an extra fee. Laura Ashley, founded by the fashion designer in the late 1950s, branched out into hospitality when it opened its first hotel in 2013. The Manor hotel in Elstree was followed by The Belsfield, which opened in the Lake District a year later. Both hotels are furnished entirely in the brand’s interior collection. A Laura Ashley spokeswoman told the Birmingham Mail: “This will be the first ever Laura Ashley Tea Room and will be rolled out to distinguished UK high streets next year, locations to be confirmed. Laura Ashley decided to open the tea room after being inspired by the success of the afternoon teas at the Laura Ashley hotels. We will endeavour to create a unique and memorable experience for our customers.”

Wagamama closes second Boston site as lease ends: Wagamama has closed one of its sites in Boston, Massachusetts, the second closure in the US city within a year. The move leaves the company operating two Boston restaurants in Faneuil Hall and the Prudential Center. It previously operated a location in Lynnfield as well. The JFK Street restaurant had its last day on Sunday (9 July). Wagamama also operates a site in New York City and still plans to add a location in Boston’s Seaport, which is on track to open next month. The company stated: “After ten years in Cambridge, the lease on Wagamama’s Harvard Square restaurant has ended. Wagamama will close the store to focus efforts on its new location in Boston’s thriving Seaport neighbourhood, coming this summer, as well as on the growth of its other Boston locations – Faneuil Hall and Prudential Center. Wagamama loves Boston so much – it was the first city to serve its noodles in the US – and is grateful to all its loyal customers, who it would love to welcome at its other outposts soon.” Turnover in Wagamama’s restaurant business in the US increased 35.1% to £8.3m in the year to 23 April 2017, compared with £6.2m the year before. This was primarily driven by the opening of its New York City restaurant in November 2016 and an 8.6% growth in like-for-like sales offset by the closure of a restaurant in Boston in the first quarter of the 2016/2017 financial year. 

Hakkasan Group and Proximity team up to expand digital audience and live reach: UK-based nightclub and restaurant company Hakkasan Group and YouTube dance curator Proximity have teamed up to strengthen each other’s platforms, online and off. Proximity, led by founder Blake Coppelson, has almost five million YouTube subscribers and has become an influential taste-maker in the electronic music space. Hakkasan Group plans to enlist the support of Proximity, and vice-versa, on major events. Sal Wise, Hakkasan Group executive director of nightlife marketing, told Billboard: “We are extremely excited to work with Proximity and explore a different platform to reach our audiences. Proximity holds an immense influence within the electronic music industry and we are really looking forward to producing innovative content to engage our viewers in a new way.” Hakkasan Group and Proximity recently partnered during EDC Las Vegas week to co-brand numerous events at Omnia Nightclub, Hakkasan Nightclub and Wet Republic, including shows where superstar DJs such as Martin Garrix and Kaskade headlined.

Vapiano to roll-out UK restaurant refurbishment as it prepares for Centre Point site: Vapiano is to roll-out its refurbishment strategy once architects Finkernagel Ross finish work on the Italian restaurant brand’s next London site. Finkernagel Ross, which completed a £2m redesign of Vapiano’s flagship restaurant in Great Portland Street, Marylebone, earlier this year, will next work on the brand’s venue in Tottenham Court Road at the new Centre Point development. The company also acted as executive architects and project managers to refurbish Vapiano’s restaurants in Soho, Brisbane and Manchester, with work at Vapiano’s other London location, in Bankside, and new sites in Glasgow and Edinburgh next in the pipeline. The company opened its first restaurant in Hamburg in 2002 and has 185 sites in more than 30 countries with plans to increase this to 330 by the end of 2020. Last month, Vapiano’s shares started trading at €23.95 in their Frankfurt debut, about 4% above their issue price. Bonn-based Vapiano placed almost eight million shares at €23 apiece in its initial public offering, raising about €184m (£162m) and giving it a market value of about €553m.

Giggling Squid gets go-ahead to open Chichester site: Thai restaurant group Giggling Squid, which is backed by the Business Growth Fund, has been given the go-ahead to open a site in Chichester, West Sussex. The company, founded by Thai-born Pranee Laurillard and husband Andy, has been granted permission by Chichester District Council to move into Unicorn House in Eastgate Square. It is set to take over the ground floor and will be open daily from 10.30am to 11.30pm, reports the Chichester Observer. Giggling Squid is continuing its rapid expansion and will open a restaurant in Bath this summer, while it has also secured a site in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. It took a £6.4m investment from the Business Growth Fund in 2015 to accelerate growth plans. Founded in the basement of a tiny fisherman’s cottage, now Giggling Squid’s Brighton restaurant, the couple opened their first site in Hove in 2009.

Cote to open £1m Trinity Leeds site this month: French brasserie Cote is to open its £1m site in Trinity Leeds shopping centre on Monday, 24 July. The venue will open on the upper level at the former Mamas & Papas site overlooking Trinity Leeds’ atrium, creating more than 40 jobs. The 188-cover restaurant will feature a selection of locally sourced seasonal dishes on its monthly changing menu. Chief executive Alex Scrimgeour told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “Leeds is such a busy, thriving city and we are delighted to be opening right in the heart of town. Trinity Leeds has a great reputation for offering a diverse range of food and drink options. We look forward to adding our blend of quality French food, friendly professional service and great value to the mix.” Cote will be joined at Trinity Leeds by companies including international cafe restaurant brand Jamaica Blue and Comptoir Libanais, the Lebanese canteen specialising in fresh Middle Eastern dishes. Earlier this month, Cote opened the third site of its all-day California kitchen brand Limeyard in Leeds – its first in the north of England.

Oxfordshire-based operator Inndeavour acquires fourth site: Oxfordshire-based operator Inndeavour, led by Kerr and Sarah Smith, has acquired its fourth site. The company has bought The Evenlode in Eynsham for an undisclosed sum following support from the Royal Bank of Scotland. The six-figure funding deal paves the way for further expansion across the company’s group of pubs and a guest house. Sarah Smith told Insider Media: “Our business model has been one of acquiring tired and closed businesses and refurbishing them to give a focused service of high-quality, value-for-money food coupled with accommodation. Oxford has been our particular area of focus and is an area we know extremely well. Royal Bank of Scotland has supported us at each stage of our expansion and we look forward to working with it in partnership as we continue to identify other suitable sites and locations across the county.” Inndeavour also operates Easington Guest House in Banbury, the Pickled Ploughman in Adderbury, and The Lion in Wendlebury.

Carluccio’s to launch kids eat for a quid offer during summer holidays: Carluccio’s is to launch a “kids eat for £1” offer during the summer holidays. Parents buying a main course will be eligible for the discount for children aged ten or below from Tuesday, 25 July to Thursday, 31 August. The offer entitles children to a main dish, dessert and soft drink for £1 between 9am and 5pm at participating restaurants. Meals on the menu will include lasagne, macaroni cheese and chicken Milanese with rosemary roasted potatoes. Children will also be able to create their own pasta dish with spaghetti or ditaloni with tomato, pesto or bolognaise sauce. Carluccio’s new summer menu for adults will include chilled cucumber soup, Sicilian swordfish muddica, and seafood risotto. In May, the company reported UK turnover increased by 2.7% to £140.9m for the year ending 26 September 2016.

Gordon Ramsay to add to US portfolio with Baltimore restaurant: Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is to add to his US portfolio by opening a restaurant at the Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore. Ramsay is launching his second incarnation of Gordon Ramsay Steak following the first at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. The restaurant, which will replace Jack Binion’s Steak, will serve a British menu with dishes such as beef wellington, braised beef cheeks, and sticky toffee pudding. Ramsay also confirmed he would make the most of the east coast crab, which is landed locally, in a number of seafood dishes. He told Casinopedia: “I’ve been a big lover of Baltimore and what it stands for and what comes out of there regionally.”

Kaspa’s eyes Kent opening at former Wetherspoon site: Dessert parlour brand Kaspa’s is eyeing a former JD Wetherspoon site in Sittingbourne, Kent. It has put in plans to open in The Summoner in High Street underneath the snooker club, creating 30 jobs. The Summoner closed in February last year after almost two decades of trading. Kaspa’s has Kent branches in Canterbury and Broadstairs, with restaurants opening soon in Gillingham, Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and Dover. It serves Italian gelato, waffles, crepes, milkshakes, smoothies and sundaes and its new Sittingbourne shop would seat 124. The application for the shop in the former Bell Shopping Centre states: “There is presently no similar offering to Kaspa’s in Sittingbourne and this will create a unique feature within the town centre. Its family-orientated menu and decor, together with a seating layout that is focused towards groups rather than individuals and couples, creates an environment for socialising and meeting others.” It would open from 11am to 11pm, seven days a week. Kaspa’s has 37 sites with 28 in the pipeline. Rival dessert parlour brand Creams announced in May it would open in Sittingbourne in February next year, although the location has yet to be confirmed.

Papa John’s introduces Facebook ordering in US: Papa John’s has introduced Facebook ordering in the US as it looks to grow sales through digital channels. Customers can access Papa John’s Facebook “Instant Experience” through several entry points to order food without leaving the app. The new ordering platform continues Papa John’s digital efforts as pizza chains increasingly compete, not over the ingredients in the pizza but in the ease of their ordering. Brandon Rhoten, Papa John’s global chief marketing officer, told Nation’s Restaurant news: “Customers can jump on Facebook, search for Papa John’s page, press the big button on the page and start their order. It’s so simple and clean. Millions of people are interacting on social media. We want to make it as easy as possible to get pizza in their hands.” Papa John’s said it found working with Facebook to be simple because the social media company has built its own browser, so Papa John’s was able to easily add a button to its home page. Papa John’s started digital ordering in its US restaurants in 2001 and by text in 2007. The chain also started a rewards programme in 2010 and launched capabilities such as Apple TV ordering.

Cottons to launch online loyalty scheme: London-based Cottons Caribbean Restaurant and Rhum Shack is to launch an online loyalty scheme this month. Cottons Club will launch on Monday, 24 July and be valid at Cottons’ three venues – in Shoreditch, Notting Hill and Camden – plus the Vauxhall site that will open later this summer. The scheme will use marketing platform Coniq, allowing customers to scan their club card to collect virtual stamps and incentives such as free jerk chicken wings and main meals. Consumers visiting Cottons from Monday to Thursday will get day-specific deals such as mac ‘n’ cheese, desserts and half-price sparkling wine. There will also be one-off competitions to win prizes such as rum tastings or a chance to preview limited edition menu items. Owner Chris Singam launched Cottons in 1985. He also operates pan-Asian bar and restaurant concept Miusan in Camden.

North East-based hospitality group Fresh Element to operate cafe on Hadrian’s Wall for fourth site: North East-based hospitality group Fresh Element, which operates three venues in the region, has won the contract to run a cafe at the National Landscape Discovery Centre on Hadrian’s Wall. The company is recruiting to fill roles at the Hexham development, which will open later this summer. Fresh Element, which operates restaurants Six and Baltic Kitchen, both in Gateshead, and Garden Kitchen in Newcastle, aims to be fully sustainable by 2020 by sourcing local organic food while carrying out whole animal butchery at its development site and responsibly disposing of waste. National Landscape Discovery Centre manager Sarah Glynn told BDaily: “We want our customers’ journey of landscape discovery to take place from the moment they arrive at our venue to the moment they leave. The catering they receive while with us is key. The ethos behind Fresh Element’s offer will allow us to tell some interesting stories about the journey our food takes from field to plate.”

Yakinori expands outside Birmingham with Bristol opening, third site in total: Birmingham-based Japanese restaurant group Yakinori has opened its first site outside the city, in Bristol. The independent, family-owned company operates two sites in Birmingham and has now opened a venue in Park Street, Bristol. Dishes include ramen, katsu curry, grilled teryaki, and sushi platters. Yakinori’s Birmingham sites are at Grand Central and Selly Oak, while it also operates noodle brand Woktastic in the city.

Ayr-based operator to turn empty town centre pub into American diner for second site: Vinny Roarty, who operates The Newmarket bar in Ayr, is to turn another pub in the town centre into an American diner. Four years ago, Ayr was branded a “dead town going nowhere” but Roarty said the centre now had a “cosmopolitan feel” as he readies to open The Brooklyn Café on the site of Atrium Bar and Restaurant. He told the Daily Record: “I came here from Glasgow six years ago and the potential of the town always struck me. There is a real appetite for people to support places if they are doing things right. That’s what gave me the confidence to open here ten months ago and we haven’t looked back since.”

MasterChef: The Professionals finalist puts Buckinghamshire restaurant on the market: MasterChef: The Professionals finalist Dan Cameron has put his restaurant in Buckinghamshire up for sale. Cameron is selling Cameron’s Kitchen in Stony Stratford, near Milton Keynes, through agent Christie & Co. The leasehold is available for £135,000 plus an annual rent of £16,000 for the wine bar and £20,000 for the restaurant. Cameron was a finalist on the first series of MasterChef: The Professionals in 2008. Formerly known as Cameron’s Brasserie, the venue reopened as Cameron’s Kitchen in 2015 after being refurbished following fire damage. The restaurant offers contemporary European cuisine in a casual fine dining setting, seating about 70 people across the restaurant and bar. Christie & Co business agent Mark Loveday said: “There is great potential to grow this popular business by extending the opening hours to seven days a week given the restaurant’s demand from local customers. Dan has done a great job of building an extremely popular and profitable operation and with Milton Keynes, Northampton and Banbury all located nearby, we expect a lot of interest in this sale.”

Hull-based operator to start expansion by opening second French restaurant, in Beverley: Hull-based operator Khaled Bouhenache is to start expanding his portfolio by opening his second French restaurant, this time in Beverley. Bouhenache is launching Fleur De Lis in September in the Georgian Quarter after acquiring the lease of the former Rolando’s restaurant site. The new venue, which will seat about 70 people, will serve authentic French food, a range of French wine and specially selected French beers. It will have Victorian-style decor, with a wooden floor and a specially designed suspended ceiling. Bouhenache, who launched Cognac in Hull two years ago, told the Hull Daily Mail: “Fleur De Lis will be different, a slightly higher standard than Cognac, and I hope people will visit both of them.”

Hotel and water park plans for Longleat expected to get go-ahead: Plans for a 240-bedroom hotel, water park and conference facility at the Longleat estate in Wiltshire are expected to get the go-ahead next week. Longleat Enterprises, the commercial arm of the 465-year-old estate, has submitted an application to Wiltshire Council for the project as it aims to enable families to extend their stay. It is hoped the water park will provide an additional all-year-round facility that will enable the business to balance the seasonal nature of the safari and adventure park. The development, which is recommended for approval, is expected to cost about £45m and create 300 jobs, reports Insider Media. The planning officer’s report ahead of the application being determined by the strategic planning committee on Wednesday (19 July) states: “This proposed development will provide new hotel accommodation, business conferencing facilities and leisure facilities of a type that is presently absent in Wiltshire. It is likely to have significant economic benefits that will help support the local community by providing direct and indirect employment, and which will help to secure the long-term viability of the Longleat Estate.” Longleat Enterprises is responsible for the management of two tourist attractions at Cheddar Gorge and Longleat’s Safari Park. The business has committed to spending £3m per year over ten years to support development of the park.

East Anglia-based operators start expanding Portuguese restaurant concept with second site: East Anglia-based operators Andrea and Mario Marinho have started expanding their Portuguese restaurant concept Cheers by opening their second site. The couple, who operate Cheers in Thetford, Norfolk, have opened the new venue in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. The 70-cover restaurant in Angel Hill specialises in Portuguese food with sangria and red or white wine included in the price. Andrea Marinho told the Bury Free Press: “We had three years of really hard work but we finally got there and are proud to open in Bury.” The Marinhos launched Cheers in Thetford in 2008 and, having started with 35 covers, have extended the White Hart Street site to cater for 110 diners.

Fever-Tree agrees Virgin Atlantic deal: Fever-Tree, the supplier of premium carbonated mixers, has agreed a deal to supply Virgin Atlantic’s entire fleet. The 150ml cans of Fever-Tree’s premium Indian tonic and naturally light tonic, as well as its premium lemonade and ginger ale, are available in all cabin classes. This is the first time Fever-Tree’s premium lemonade and ginger ale have been available in can formats. The range is also available in the Virgin Atlantic clubhouses in Heathrow and JFK New York, where Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse mixologists have been working with Fever-Tree to create a new cocktail menu featuring the premium mixers. Alongside the product, Fever-Tree will also provide Virgin Atlantic customers with appropriate spirit and mixer pairing guides coupled with insight into the top bars at Virgin Atlantic’s flight destinations. The launch of premium lemonade and ginger ale in 150ml can formats adds to the four tonics already available –premium Indian tonic, naturally light tonic, elderflower tonic and Mediterranean tonic.

Brighton-based North African-inspired cafe bar opens second site: Brighton-based North African-inspired cafe bar The Blue Man has started expansion by opening its second site in the city. Owners Maji Bensliman and Jess Woodfall have opened the new venue in Manchester Street on the site of the former Pomegranate restaurant. The restaurant has 40 covers with a bar that sources Sussex drinks from Albourne and Ridgeview vineyards and features Algerian paintings to keep ties between the two places Bensliman regards as home. It is split between two floors, with the upstairs providing a more private setting, reports The Argus. The Blue Man’s other site is in Queen’s Road.

Odeon to anchor new Leeds leisure complex: Cinema operator Odeon is to anchor the new leisure complex at Thorpe Park Leeds. Odeon has secured a 44,000 square foot unit for a ten-screen cinema, which will be located above the boulevard of restaurants to be built at the Yorkshire business park’s new leisure development. The cinema and new retail sign-ups Boots and M&S Simply Food will form part of phase two of the Thorpe Park Leeds project, which Scarborough International Properties is developing in partnership with Legal & General Capital (LGC). Odeon group property director Ken Taylor told BDaily: “We have exciting plans to bring a fantastic cinema experience to the East Leeds community. Odeon in Thorpe Park Leeds will have state-of-the-art screen and audio technology, our latest luxury seats, and our very best hospitality services.” Thorpe Park Leeds is an 800,000 square foot business park, with phase two set to deliver a further 1.65 million square feet of mixed-use accommodation including the 300,000 square foot leisure park, which is due to open in autumn 2018.

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