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Thu 10th Aug 2017 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Brunning & Price founder to make pub trade return ten years after selling company: Brunning & Price founder Jerry Brunning is making a return to the pub trade ten years after selling the then 16-strong company to The Restaurant Group. Brunning has formed Pubs Limited and acquired The Swan in the village of Marbury, near Nantwich, Cheshire. The pub will reopen in the late autumn. The pub will be run by Darren Snell, who managed The Dysart Arms for Brunning and his business partner at the time, Graham Price. Writing on the pub’s website, Brunning states: “My name is Jerry Brunning and I’m a publican. Or perhaps more accurately I was a publican, then I retired and now I’m about to become a publican again. In 1981, I started a pub company called Brunning & Price and ran it until 2007, when I sold it. You might know some of my old pubs – The Combermere Arms in Burleydam is the closest but there are quite a few scattered around. After the company was sold Graham Price, my old partner, carried on running it (and built more pubs locally) and I went home and watched telly. After nearly ten years, I think I’ve seen all the Midsomer Murders so when The Swan came on the market I couldn’t resist. We’ll refit the place so we end up with a decent village pub, food-oriented but still with a good regular pub side, in good nick, with nice people running it. There’s some real dyed-in-the-wool talent hanging around trying to get this pub working. The most important person in the team is Darren Snell, who will actually be running The Swan. For the past 20 years he’s been mostly in this part of Cheshire. After The Dysart he ran his own pub – The Black Lion in Nantwich – and now joins me again for this new venture. Also with me is my younger brother Francis, who used to be property manager for Brunning & Price and has built more than 50 pubs. In the early days he also ran many of the Brunning & Price pubs, in between building them, and is hugely experienced in all aspects of the business. Like me he has done every job in the business. Sadly, none of us is in the first flush of youth. Darren is the youngest at 55 and between us the years we’ve notched up in the pub world would earn us a standing ovation at Lords, if pubs were cricket. So here we are, striding out to the crease once again.”

Industry News:

Chris Muller Multi-site Management Masterclass open for bookings: Propel will host Professor Chris Muller, the leading thinker, teacher and author on multi-site foodservice management in the US, at its next Multi-site Management Masterclass. It takes place on Friday, 29 September at One Moorgate Place in London and is open for bookings. Leading UK businesses such as Mitchells & Butlers and TGI Friday’s have sent staff to be taught by Professor Muller at Boston University’s School of Hospitality – now Professor Muller is returning to the UK to lead this bespoke day. The event will provide valuable insights for founders and area managers of small and medium-sized multi-site companies and area managers of large companies. The sessions will include building the case for strategic growth, developing multi-unit managers from players to coaches and a discussion on the importance transition plays in the practice of management and leadership. Mastering Multi-Units founder Lee Sheldon will also talk about how to successfully drive profitable growth for your business. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium members, £345 plus VAT for operators and £445 plus VAT for suppliers. To book tickets, email Anne Steele at

Diners ‘anticipate shift towards digitalisation’: Diners expect a shift towards digitalisation, with many eagerly anticipating when operators will adopt the latest technology, according to a report by interactive menu company Ordamo. Its survey of 1,500 consumers found almost all (99%) expect table service when visiting a restaurant for dinner, with a similar story for breakfast (83%) and lunch (96%). Taking Nando’s as an example, the survey found more than half of consumers (52%) would like to be able to order their food and drink using a digital tablet or app at a Nando’s site. However, that figure changed regarding eating in at PizzaExpress and Wagamama (40% and 44% respectively). Overall, more than half of consumers (51%) find it annoying having to go to a bar or counter to order, while waiting in a restaurant queue annoyed a similar number (52%). In addition, the vast majority (91%) of respondents find it annoying being ignored by staff leading to a longer wait for the bill. Similarly, 55% find it a nuisance not being able to order a drink mid-meal with ease. Three-in-five consumers (60%) value an ability to view up-to-date and accurate allergen information as important. Ordamo chief executive Daniel Potter said: “With a tablet or app, operators place the power firmly in the hands of the consumer, allowing them to call for a waiter and order additional dishes or drinks mid-meal while also requesting the bill. Consumers are very receptive to upselling mid-meal – something I’m sure is music to operators’ ears.”

Unhealthy eating habits at restaurants being driven by work and job stress, new research reveals: Unhealthy eating habits at restaurants are being driven by work and job stress, according to new research. The data by customer insights company Ordoo has shown behaviours shift dramatically from weekday to weekend, with a relationship between people’s busy work lives and ability to resist the temptation of unhealthy food. The findings revealed people are twice as likely to eat unhealthily on Mondays as they are at the weekend, suggesting job pressures and work/life balance contribute to eating unhealthy food. Meanwhile, Thursday is the least healthy day, with almost one in three orders (29%) being unhealthy, followed by Wednesday. The research also showed coffee orders spike on Monday afternoons to levels more than twice as high as any other afternoon in the week. Almost one-quarter (23%) said they were more likely to eat healthily in the summer than in winter. Ordoo said as people tended to be more relaxed during the holiday season they had time to think about their diet and reach for the healthy option. Ordoo chief executive Tom Dewhurst said: “From the way people binge on caffeine to get them through Monday afternoons to the way they are twice as likely to eat healthily at the weekend, these findings suggest our stressful work lives have a recurring impact on our dietary choices.”

CAMRA to launch Great British Beer Festival Winter: The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is to launch the Great British Beer Festival Winter. The event will run from 20-24 February in the medieval friary halls in the heart of Norwich. While the festival will have a particular focus on winter ale, visitors can expect a range of beer on offer. Pubs across the city will take part in the celebration, hosting Fringe events from 1 to 24 February, including stand-up comedy, music nights and pub quizzes. Visitors will have the chance to sample winners of the Champion Winter Beer Of Britain competition and enjoy live music and local food. Festival organiser Martin Ward said: “A year is far too long for beer drinkers to wait for their next great national festival, so we have decided to launch the Great British Beer Festival Winter in the city of Norwich. Festival-goers can expect the same large range of high-quality beers on offer that they would do at the Great British Beer Festival at Olympia, but we will also have the best in winter brews from across the country.”

Intu to start work on £73m leisure extension at Lakeside complex after appointing builders: Intu will start work on its 175,000 square foot leisure extension at its Lakeside complex in Essex this month after appointing McLaren Construction to build the development. The £73m scheme will open in 2018, anchored by Nickelodeon’s first UK shopping centre attraction and one of Hollywood Bowl’s biggest tenpin bowling venues. They will be joined by a number of other leisure and catering brands. Intu regional managing director Rebecca Ryman said: “We’re investing millions at Intu Lakeside to ensure it can deliver one of the biggest and best shopping and leisure experiences in the country and it’s exciting to see our plans take shape with the appointment of McLaren Construction to build the first phase of the centre’s extension. David Murphy, McLaren Construction managing director for distribution and mixed use, added: “The new brands will add an extra dimension to the shopping experience, creating a destination for families, shoppers and diners with attractions and events for day and evening visitors.” Intu is also continuing work on the 400,000 square foot extension to Intu Watford this year ahead of its autumn 2018 opening and expects to start construction work on the redevelopment of Intu Broadmarsh in Nottingham.

Veteran Mail on Sunday leisure journalist steps down: Veteran Mail on Sunday leisure journalist Sarah Bridge is stepping down to work full-time on her luxury travel website Bridge, who will leave on Friday (11 August), joined the newspaper in January 2009 and covered all aspects of the leisure industry for the City pages. She plans to add more content to her website, including a new YouTube channel.

Company News:

Winery-owed pub group Hush Heath eyes expansion to 12 sites: Laurence Bowes, operations director of Hush Heath, has told Propel the company is looking to grow its portfolio to about a dozen sites as it taps into the popularity of wine and its unique position as a winery-owned pub group. The company offers a core range of seven wines, plus premium cider brand Jake’s Orchard, from its winery in Kent. It also owns two London pubs, The Bull And The Hide in Devonshire Road and St Bart’s Brewery in Smithfield, and two in Kent, The Goudhurst Inn and The Tickled Trout. Bowes said: “The pubs tap into the popularity of wine. It’s a selling point compared with our competitors that we’re a winery-owned pub group. In London, where there is so much choice, it’s a USP and in Kent the pubs and winery can play off each other’s strengths. As well as selling wine for £10 to £12 a bottle in our shop, we’re selling it for £30 in our pubs so our mark-up is happening on two different levels, and (we own) both those routes to market.” Hush Heath’s hospitality segment turned over £5m in its last financial year, with each London site contributing about £1.5m and the remainder split between the pubs in Kent. Bowes said: “We’re a business that wants to grow and invest. Our plan is ten to 12 pubs in three years and then re-evaluate where we are. The profitability of the business model is built around a pub with eight to ten rooms, with good-quality food and beverage. We need to be innovative, creative and better than the competition. A secondary-fermented Normandy-style cider served in a champagne flute isn’t what you go to the pub for. That’s the kind of impulse purchase we have to sell in our business, because it’s a unique experience. I hope we can steer the on-trade market a little bit. Being owned by a winery means we can be innovators.” Hush Heath is led by Richard Balfour-Lynn, who set up property and leisure group MWB, which included the Malmaison and Hotel du Vin hotel chains as well as the Pub du Vin brand extension. In 2001, he planted his first vineyards on his estate at Staplehurst, near Tonbridge.

Stonegate to open second Bar Salsa! with conversion of Walkabout site in Temple: Stonegate Pub Company is to open its second Bar Salsa! by converting its Walkabout site in Temple. The company is investing £1m in the venue in Charing Cross Road, which will have its current capacity increased before opening on Thursday, 14 September. The new site will take influences from the original Bar Salsa! in Soho – bold, bright colours and traditional artwork. It will be split into several different zones and will offer three bars, including a VIP space, a stage for dance acts and bands, flexible dining spaces and multiple dance floors allowing different levels of salsa classes to take place. The menu will include a tapas selection, fajitas, loaded sharing planks and “hamburguesas”. There will be more than 50 cocktails alongside a selection of Latin-American beers and flavoured tequilas. VIP party packages, including drinks, food and salsa classes, will be available. Bar Salsa! Temple general manager Liam Martyn said: “We are so excited to be launching a second bar in London. We have a loyal group of customers who return night after night and we’re proud to have the opportunity to launch a thriving new site for them and look forward to welcoming a whole new set of Londoners.”

Chesterford Group reports like-for-likes up 7.8% as it opens first of five sites planned this financial year: The Chesterford Group has reported like-for-like sales increased 7.8% after opening the first of five sites planned for this financial year. The company has opened the third store under its Bankers Fish & Chips brand in Hove, East Sussex. It represents the 38th store in total for the group, which also operates Churchill’s and Fishnchickn. The new shop in Hangleton Road features an art deco-inspired interior and has seating for 25 customers. Managing director James Lipscombe said: “The Bankers brand is synonymous with fish and chips in Brighton and Hove and our new Hangleton Road branch, with 25 covers, gives more customers the opportunity to enjoy fish and chips the Bankers way. This is the first of our five store openings this financial year and we’re looking forward to opening a Churchill’s branded store in Luton at the end of August. We’re really pleased to realise our growth ambitions for the business this year while also seeing like-for-like sales across the estate increase by 7.8% compared with last year.”

Evans & Peel to start expansion by opening ‘secret bar’ in Chiswick this month: Evans & Peel will start expansion by opening a 1920s prohibition-style bar and restaurant disguised as an old pharmacy in Chiswick, west London. The company will open Evans & Peel Pharmacy in Devonshire Road on Monday, 21 August – five years after launching its Detective Agency bar in Earls Court Road. The “hidden bar” will be styled with vintage furniture, giving guests the feeling they have walked into a 1920s pharmacy, and offer an extensive cocktail list and 1920s American-style small plates. Guests will ring the doorbell and be greeted by the pharmacist. It will then become their task to make their way into the secret bar. There will be secret passwords for those in the know, who will be escorted into the bar through the pharmacy as the windows simultaneously black out to preserve its secret identity. The venue will be low-lit and secluded with antique surgical equipment and secret drawers located within the bar where guests will be greeted with something new every time. The cocktail list will include variations of the classic Old Fashioned as well as pharmacy-inspired creations from the in-house bar team. Vintage Japanese whiskey and spirits will be on offer as well as wine and champagne. The food menu will feature old-school American classics such as grilled cheese sandwiches, which will arrive in a cigar box with smoke seeping from the sides.

Pilpel secures City units for sixth London site and second for Badolina brand, three more openings in pipeline: Family-owned restaurant group and falafel bar Pilpel, which specialises in Middle Eastern street food, has secured a site to open its sixth venue in London plus a neighbouring unit for its Badolina brand. It will be a second site for Badolina following the Mediterranean restaurant concept’s launch in Bishopsgate. The company, founded by Uri Dinay and Joseph Cohen, has lined up two units at the mixed-use development at 21 Lime Street next to Leadenhall Market that already houses Azzurri Group brand Coco di Mama. Pilpel said it is looking to open three more sites in the next 12 months, while it is also looking at opening its first bar within 21 Lime Street. Dinay said: “We have always had an ambition to open in the Leadenhall Market area and 21 Lime Street presented the perfect opportunity.” Sammy Weinbaum, of agents CDG Leisure, which advised Pilpel on the deal, said: “Where the casual dining market seems to have taken a dip, the grab-and-go sector seems to be thriving. CDG Leisure has been retained to secure Pilpel its next three sites in the next 12 months.” The other Pilpel sites are in Aldgate, two in Smithfield and others in St Paul’s and Fleet Street. The company also owns Mediterranean restaurant Barraka in Spitalfields.

Ei Group commercial property director to take up new leisure sector role: Ei Group commercial property director Richard Broadribb will leave the company on Friday (11 August) for a new role in the leisure sector. Broadribb, who has been with Ei Group for almost 16 years, is joining Marina Developments as property director. He will take up his new role, based at Hamble Point Marina on the south coast, on Monday, 21 August. Last month, Ei Group hired Greg Parkes as Broadribb’s replacement. Parkes was previously with Mitchells & Butlers, where he has spent the past 12 years in property roles, becoming head of acquisitions in 2014.

Church to reopen run-down city centre pub in Norwich: A run-down city centre pub in Norwich has been restored to its former use by a church in what is thought to be a UK first. The Mitre, first licensed 150 years ago, was put up for sale 18 months ago after a brief period as a Chinese restaurant. The neighbouring St Thomas Church has spent about £600,000 to restore the building to become a pub once more. The venue will focus on craft beer, while doubling as a coffee shop and bistro. The church also plans to use The Mitre as a base for its work to prevent human trafficking, with funds raised by the pub going towards its projects. The reverend Ian Dyble told the BBC: “We are so pleased that through the generosity of many we were able to raise the finance to acquire this building and return it to its original purpose of serving and being an asset to the community. As we renovated the building we were surprised to find the upper rooms had been insulated from light and sound and it is rewarding to let the light in and transform these into a presence for good in the area.” Restoration money was raised through gifts from the congregation, charitable organisations and loans. It is due to open next week.

Former Nobu chef heads kitchen at new high-end Japanese restaurant and ‘hideaway’ bar in Mayfair: A new high-end Japanese restaurant and “hideaway” bar has launched in Mayfair with the kitchen headed by former Nobu chef Osamu Mizuno. Cubé Restaurant and Kakurega Bar has opened in Blenheim Street at a site formerly occupied by Japanese restaurant Nagomi. The restaurant is run by Mayumi Nunn, formerly of Kanada-Ya and Eat Tokyo, and bar manager Reo Nomura, previously of Kouzu and Tokimeite. The ground-floor dining room offers traditional Japanese dishes and others influenced by European ingredients, Eater London reports. The simple, wood-dominated room has been designed by architect Hidetaka Morinaga and designer Yoshi Takagi. The restaurant’s main dining room has 18 covers, while the “omakase” sushi counter seats six. Diners can also order sushi by the single piece, sashimi in trios and also from a three-section menu devoted to sashimi, nigiri and maki roll selections. The lower-ground-floor Kakurega bar, which means “hideaway” and seats 12, offers seven Japanese cocktails, rare sakes, Japanese whisky and fine wine.

Bill’s to open site at Braintree shopping village next week: Bill’s Restaurants, owned by Richard Caring, is to open a site at the Freeport Designer Village in Braintree, Essex, on Monday (14 August). The company is opening the restaurant, which will have capacity for almost 200 diners, in the former premises of Tutti Tuscan Grille, creating about 30 jobs. It will join other restaurant brands, including Tasty-owned Wildwood, PizzaExpress, Prezzo and TGI Friday’s at the complex. Freeport Braintree centre manager Josef O’Sullivan told the Braintree and Witham Times: “Bill’s is synonymous with a premium dining experience, which will further enhance the food and beverage offer available.” Bill’s has more than 80 sites around the UK, including two others in Essex – in Colchester and Chelmsford. Founder Bill Collison opened the first site in Lewes, East Sussex, in 2001.

Aria Leisure closes Middle Eastern concept Suri in Manchester after only five months having ‘misread the market’: Aria Leisure has closed its Middle Eastern concept Suri in Manchester only five months after launch having “misread the market”. The company, founded by Allied London commercial director Andrea George, Fazenda co-founder Terence Langley, and Leeds-based entrepreneur James Coubrough, opened the restaurant in King Street in March. Langley told the Manchester Evening News: “It’s a real shame. I think ultimately we misread the market with this particular concept and style of offering. All the people involved gave their all but the one single missing ingredient, perhaps, was its authenticity. The site is in an amazing location and a great building. Something exciting might just happen there in the future.” Suri took over the premises from Quill, which closed in June 2016 less than a year after its launch following a £1m investment.

Crazy golf craze to arrive in Cardiff city centre: A plan to transform an industrial site in Cardiff city centre into a crazy golf venue has been given the go-ahead. The scheme is earmarked for unit two at Senlan Industrial Estate, which used to house a printing company that went into liquidation in 2014. Since then, the site has remained vacant and “proved difficult to let”. According to a planning statement: “The difficulty in letting is attributed largely to the poor physical condition of the building and its subsequent unattractiveness. In this regard, the applicant intends to remedy the deficiencies by way of a programme of repair and maintenance.” The proposal is to develop two 18-hole crazy golf courses and a bar. The planning statement added: “The principal intention is to attract small groups of people as part of a day or evening out to enjoy an indoor sport, increasing in popularity throughout the UK. In terms of its operation, the applicant seeks a seven-day use, with hours of operation between 10am and midnight. Realistically, however, it is envisaged the greatest demand will arise during the evenings and at weekends. It is likely, when the pattern of demand is established, the use will probably not operate on Mondays and Tuesdays and will only open in the evenings on Wednesdays and Thursdays.”

Nando’s to give away free food to A-level students: Nando’s is to give away free food to students celebrating their A-level results next week. The company is offering free quarter chicken or chicken wings at its restaurants on Thursday, 17 August. Other items on offer will include spicy mixed olives, houmous with peri-peri drizzle, red pepper dip, and peri-peri nuts. To claim the offer, students must show a member of staff their results papers and some form of ID and must spend at least £7.

Everyman submits plans for underground venue in Newcastle: Everyman Cinemas has submitted plans for an underground venue in Newcastle. The company confirmed last month it was set to open a site in the city next year, as well as in Liverpool and Borough Market in 2020. The landlord of Earl Grey House – Schroders Regional Office Property Unit Trust – has drawn up the proposals on behalf of Everyman. These reveal the venue would comprise four screens, as well as a bar and restaurant, comprising 221 seats. All the fit-out work would be accommodated within the shell of the existing basement, reports Insider Media. A heritage statement submitted alongside the plans said: “The proposal by Everyman to introduce a new cultural venue to the centre of Newcastle will contribute to the diversity of entertainment on offer within the city. The proposals seek to bring back to use a large, vacant basement area within a prime location in Grey Street opposite the Theatre Royal. The basement, which has been vacant for five years, is a difficult space to find a use for, with no windows and no large entrance, and therefore a cinema use is considered to be sympathetic and appropriate to the listed building.”

Pentahotels promotes Ben Thomas to UK regional director: Pentahotels has promoted Ben Thomas to the position of UK regional director. He will take over from Andrew Munt, who was promoted to vice-president operations by the group earlier this year. In his new role, Thomas will be responsible for all hotel operations and management within the region. The company stated: “Since joining the hotel group in 2014, Thomas has contributed significantly to the success of Pentahotels in the UK, overseeing the launch of two hotels in his previous role as cluster general manager. With various qualifications and certifications as well as an advanced diploma in hospitality management, Ben will continue to cultivate strong relationships with the talented teams across Pentahotels’ various properties in the UK and further strengthen the group’s global market presence.” Munt added: “With such a proven record of success since joining Pentahotels, Ben is the right individual to lead the UK into its next chapter. His sound strategic and commercial approach will prove incredibly valuable at this time. I am delighted to hand the region over to Ben and am excited to see how it evolves under his unique leadership style.”

Magners employability programme to focus on trainee chefs: Cider brand Magners is serving up its employability programme for a third year, this time with a focus on trainee chefs. Magners is again working with the Celtic FC Foundation and the Tennent’s Training Academy on the initiative. This year the programme will focus on recruiting trainee chefs, recognising a shortage in the Scottish hospitality industry. The project has enlisted the support of hospitality companies including G1 Group, Lynette Leisure, and Kained Holdings to guarantee slots in their kitchens for participants graduating as trained commis entry-level chefs. Since it began in 2015, the Magners Employability Programme has helped 24 participants gain employment or move into further education. This year’s course will see 12 participants develop their culinary skills over ten weeks. The programme will run from Thursday, 14 September until Friday, 17 November. In addition, this year’s programme will include awards in food safety, as well as a look at world food trends, menu planning, nutritional cooking and foraging trips. The aim of the project is to enable participants to use their new-found skills and experience to secure employment, voluntary work or further training.

Plans to convert former Birmingham cocktail bar into bowling alley approved: Plans to convert two units at Birmingham’s Cube development, one of which was previously a cocktail bar, into a boutique bowling alley have been approved. An application for the space at level six of the 25-storey scheme, which is next to The Mailbox, was lodged by EDG Property in May. The larger of the two units was once cocktail bar Geisha, while the smaller space has never had an occupier. Proposals for their conversion into a bowling alley would create one unit that spans 9,682 square feet. Birmingham City Council planning officers said they had considered the impact of the new facility on residents on The Cube’s upper floors, but concluded it would be minimal. They added the plans would enhance the “range and diversity of town centre uses”.

Diageo non-executive director to retire next month: Diageo has announced Philip Scott will retire as a non-executive director at the company’s annual meeting next month. Scott joined the board in October 2007 and stood down as chairman of the audit committee in December after nine years. The company stated: “Philip will retire as a non-executive director at Diageo’s annual general meeting in London on 20 September.”

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