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Tue 10th Oct 2017 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Healthy recipe box startup Mindful Chef closes crowdfunding campaign after raising £2m in 11 days: Healthy recipe box startup Mindful Chef has closed its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube after raising double its original £1m target in only 11 days. Mindful Chef was offering a 15.34% equity stake as it looked to raise £1m. The campaign raised £1,999,450 from 680 investors and has now closed. Last week, Mindful Chef reported record sales in September. The “farm to fork” business, founded by Robert Grieg-Gran, Giles Humphries and Myles Hopper in 2015, reported revenue of £396,236, of which £364,864 was recurring revenue (customers who had purchased at least one box before). The pitch stated: “We started the business to help people eat healthily – our belief was the easiest way to maintain a healthy diet is to have all the ingredients, together with a recipe card, delivered to your door. We focus on the healthy and premium end of the recipe box market and ship all the ingredients you need to make two-to-five evening meals, all with fresh British produce (when available) and no refined carbs (no pasta, no white rice, no bread). We have shipped more than 500,000 meals and in the past 12 months have grown from £20,000 per week to £80,000 per week in sales. Our average customer spends more than £40 per week with us (buying three meals for two people). Within the first 12 weeks we have typically paid back our marketing spend. After that, the average active customer makes seven purchases per quarter. We plan to spend about £2m on marketing in the next 12 months. We also intend to spend an additional £250,000 on technology.” Last year, Mindful Chef raised more than £1m on crowdfunding platform Seedrs, when its investors included Tossed founder Vincent McKevitt and tennis star Andy Murray.

Industry News:

Bookings open for People and Training Conference and NITAs: The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) has launched the People and Training Conference, showcasing outstanding people culture among companies within the sector. The event, organised in association with Propel Info, will take place at Bafta Piccadilly on Tuesday, 21 November. BII chairman Anthony Pender will talk about the training landscape and how it needs to change. Gareth Phillips, commercial director of the BIIAB, will set out current apprenticeship standards and the requirements of end-point assessments for employers. Daniel Davies, chief executive of CPL Training Group, will explore the competition for superior employees and the need to accumulate an arsenal to win the war for talent. Martin Dinkele, managing director of Cardinal Research, will present the highlights of exclusive research into millennials’ perceptions of working in the sector – what is attractive and what needs to change. Liz Phillips, former director of resourcing and employee relations at Mitchells & Butlers, will outline how organisations can succeed by differentiating themselves through their people. Chef Luke Thomas will give his views on creating a positive cultural experience for staff and spotting and developing talent based on his experience across multiple businesses and working in restaurants such as the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai. Jill Scratchard, head of human resources at Oakman Inns and Restaurants, will set out the company’s approach to staff development and the development of its training academy, Oakmanology. Marco Reick, people director at healthy eating brand Leon, will set out the company’s unique approach to promoting staff well-being and personal development. Tim Painter, human resources director at Stonegate Pub Company, will set out the company’s commitment to building a culture of internal development. Graham Briggs, apprenticeships manager at Greene King, will set out the company’s approach to recruiting and developing its apprentices. Rear admiral Simon Williams will set out the core values of the Royal Navy and how its people are trained to live them. Tickets for the conference are £50 plus VAT for operators who are BII members and BIIAB members and £150 plus VAT for operators who are non-BII members. Supplier tickets are £95 plus VAT for BII members and BIIAB members and £195 plus VAT for all other organisations. To book, email anne.steele@propelinfo.com. The conference will be followed in the evening by the National Innovation in Training Awards (NITAs) at Cafe De Paris, which will recognise companies and individuals that are undertaking the best training in the sector. Tickets for the NITAs are £150 plus VAT and can be booked by emailing anne.steele@propelinfo.com

‘Worrying trend’ of London late-night levies will lead to more pub closures – CAMRA: The introduction of late-night levies in London will lead to more pub closures and price rises across the capital, according to the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). In the wake of Tower Hamlets becoming the fifth London council to introduce the levy, following City of London, Islington, Camden and Hackney, CAMRA said the “worrying trend” would see the capital’s pubs hit by another tax at a time when many venues face unprecedented business rates rises. The levy can be up to £85.38 a week depending on size and rateable value of the premises. John Cryne, chairman of CAMRA’s London region, said: “We are seeing a worrying trend across London of more councils considering late-night levies without thinking of the effect this will have on valued community pubs. We are proud of the variety of pubs we have in London but introducing a levy is penalising local businesses when the majority contribute positively to the night-time economy. What is the point of having an all-night tube if there is nowhere to go? Late-night levies are a blunt instrument and unfairly penalise pubs, most of which are hubs of responsible drinking. Coupled with the introduction of crippling business rates, pubs in Tower Hamlets face rapidly rising costs that will either result in more pub closures or higher prices for consumers.”

More than half of UK drinkers think pubs ‘don’t do enough’ to make them feel welcome: More than half of UK drinkers think pubs don’t do enough to make them feel welcome, according to a study by research-based consultancy KAM Media. The study on the importance of service in British pubs asked drinkers: “Do our pubs and bars do enough to make you feel welcome as a customer?” More than half (52%) answered “no”. To the question: “How many times would service have to be bad in a pub or bar before you stopped going?” more than one-third (39%) would only give a venue one chance, while a similar number (38%) would not return after two episodes of bad service and 15% after three visits. KAM Media director Katy Moses said: “Increased spend, dwell time and satisfaction within the on-trade is impossible without great service.”

Calls for contributions to latest ALMR Christie & Co Benchmarking Report: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has launched the 12th edition of the annual ALMR Christie & Co Benchmarking Report survey and is urging businesses from across the UK’s eating and drinking out sector to take part. The annual report, produced in partnership with agent Christie & Co, provides an overview of operating costs for pubs, bars, nightclubs and restaurants and is used extensively by the ALMR in its lobbying efforts. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The report provides a clear and accurate breakdown of the costs of doing business in the eating and drinking out sector. This data is vital if we want to communicate our message to the government and secure support that gives businesses an opportunity to invest and grow. This version of the report also contains an additional section seeking input on business confidence regarding Brexit. We first included this section last year and it has been incredibly useful to see how employers have been reacting. We have included it once more as robust feedback from businesses is going to be vital if we hope to secure a deal for our sector.” Neil Morgan, managing director – pubs and restaurants at Christie & Co, added: “Last year’s report reflected the continuing evolution of the UK consumer landscape while highlighting the potential political and economic pressures that threaten some operators. As the sector faces various headwinds, we urge all (operators) to participate in the survey to give a comprehensive view of the market that can be used to understand and combat these operational pressures.”

Three-quarters of baristas prefer to interact with customers than make coffee: Almost three-quarters (73%) of baristas would rather interact with customers and explore coffee than make it, according to new research. The poll by Swiss coffee manufacturer Barista Hustle also revealed the favourite part of a barista’s job is the “satisfaction of producing a good cup of coffee” (39%), with “customer interaction” (33%) and “being able to explore coffee” (21%) close behind. The manual side of coffee, “grinding and brewing”, only received 0.6% of the vote. Barista Hustle founder Matthew Perger said: “The results show baristas enjoy the satisfaction of making great coffee more than the manual side to coffee-making. Customer interaction, coffee exploration, and great coffee are respectably their top priorities. I believe that once a coffee professional understands their profession requires more intellect and emotion than mindless repetitive labour, we’ll see a significant increase in the satisfaction of those priorities. This is a good thing for humans on both sides of the bar.”

Company News:

Analysts – Stonegate needs to offer more if it wants to win Revolution Bars Group battle: Leisure analysts have said Stonegate Pub Company needs to offer more than 203p per share if it wants to win the battle for Revolution Bars Group. Revolution is currently the subject of a £101.5m cash offer from Stonegate, while The Deltic Group has tabled proposals for a merger with Revolution that, according to analysts, equates to a deal worth 314p per share. Canaccord Genuity leisure analyst Nigel Parson said: “Artemis’ (Revolution’s largest shareholder) decision at the end of last week to withdraw its letter of support for the Stonegate 203p-per-share cash offer paves the way for an auction that will determine the future destination of the ownership of Revolution. Deltic’s offer is highly credible. If Stonegate wants to win, it needs to offer more – every extra turn of Ebitda on the valuation multiple adds circa 30p to the price. At the 203p offer price from Stonegate, the trailing exit EV/Ebitda multiple (including pre-opening costs added back) is 6.4 times. Assuming £7.7m of synergies (including £0.9m of financing synergy) identified by Deltic, the exit multiple drops to a measly 4.4 times. Using the corrected debt forecast from Deltic, Revolution could nearly double the value of its investment from today’s share price. Assuming £40m of Ebitda in FY19E, combined net debt of £35m, an enlarged share count of 75 million shares and an EV/Ebitda multiple of 8.0 times, this generates a share price of 392p.” Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack said: “Deltic’s offer proposes to add £22m of Ebitda in 2019E at an EV cost of just £82m (£54m equity and £28m debt), representing an opportunity for Revolution Bars Group shareholders to pay just 3.7 times EV/Ebitda to enlarge a growing business. The alternative is to be bought out in cash at 3.6 times site-level EV/Ebitda (2019E) with the company being forced to de-list. With such strong growth and returns, there is a case for equity offers being as attractive as cash offers, yet the board and its advisors are still recommending a 203p offer over a 314p offer. They still only have their own 4% of the shares as irrevocable acceptances and Artemis, the largest shareholder (with 14% of the company), has withdrawn its support for the 203p offer. Like Artemis, other shareholders now have a chance to provide the board and its advisors with some advice, and we believe that advice should include aspiring to something greater than 203p per share.”

Gusto eyes three new sites in southern England in next 18 months following Chislehurst opening: Premium casual dining restaurant brand Gusto, which is backed by Palatine Private Equity, has revealed it aims to open three new sites in the south of England in the next 18 months. Having established itself across the north west, Yorkshire, Midlands and Scotland, Gusto opened its first London-based restaurant in Chislehurst this summer – its 18th site in total. The company has now started a search for further sites inside the M25 and surrounding south east region. Managing director Sue Crimes said: “2017 has been incredibly exciting year for Gusto and we are thrilled to be moving into new areas. We see real opportunity to grow our brand in the London area and south east and aim to open three further Gusto restaurants in the region in the next 18 months. We’ve been overwhelmed with the positive response to our Chislehurst venue. It’s a great location for our clientele and at the heart of a growing food and drink scene in the area. We have always intended to grow our presence in the region and, over the past few months, have visited a number of fantastic established and emerging locations that would be ideal to open a Gusto restaurant in. There is such a great variety of venues, we’ve got our work cut out to find the perfect ones.” Palatine Private Equity supported Crimes and the management team in a management buyout of Gusto from Living Ventures in 2014.

Turtle Bay lodges plans to open its first restaurant in Kent: Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay has lodged plans to open its first site in Kent, in Canterbury. The company has applied to the city council to open the restaurant in Butchery Lane, reports Kent Live. In its application, the company stated: “We believe we can become something different to the current restaurant offer in Canterbury. We are typically targeting city centre locations that can offer a mix of daytime and evening activity. The restaurant is particularly keen on Butchery Lane for its close proximity to the high street and for being tucked away in an interesting location with a number of other restaurants and bars. We believe we can succeed here by creating a little escape in the centre of the city. We trade very successfully in similar locations in Oxford, Bath and York, and believe this site is quite comparable.” Founded in 2010 by Ajith Jaya-Wickrema, Turtle Bay has 37 restaurants across the UK having opened its first restaurant in Milton Keynes in 2010.

McDonald’s expected to unveil new national value menu in US: McDonald’s is expected to unveil a new national value menu in the US during the early part of 2018 in a move that could disrupt the fast food sector. Financial services company Wells Fargo said the menu is expected to have organised product introductions at the $1, $2 and $3 price points. Analyst Jeff Farmer said the development could heap pressure on rivals Burger King, Jack In The Box, Sonic and Bojangles as like-for-like sales picked up for McDonald’s, reports Seeking Alpha. Farmer has McDonald’s rated at “outperform”, with a price target of $180 (13% upside potential). McDonald’s shares are up 31% so far this year.

The Ivy Collection submits plans for Winchester site: The Ivy Collection has submitted plans to open a site in Winchester, Hampshire. The company has applied to the city council to open a restaurant in an empty unit in High Street, creating 100 jobs. The ground floor would feature the restaurant, while there would be office space on the first, second and third floors, reports the Southern Daily Echo. In recent weeks, The Ivy Collection has been given the go-ahead to open a brasserie in York and an Ivy Cafe in Blackheath, London. The Ivy Collection currently operates ten brasserie sites, with others “opening soon” in Bath, Cheltenham, Guildford, Harrogate and Tunbridge Wells. There are currently four Ivy Cafe sites, all in London. The company has forecast a total of 30 venues by the end of 2018.

South coast-based barbecue brand Casa Brasil to expand into Bristol for sixth site: All-you-can-eat barbecue brand Casa Brasil, which operates five sites along the south coast of England, is expanding into Bristol. The new restaurant will open on the top floor of the city’s Cabot Circus shopping centre next month offering a “vibrant, exotic atmosphere” under the slogan “come hungry, leave happy”, the Bristol Post reports. At Casa Brasil, diners eat unlimited food for a set price, including unlimited trips to a gourmet salad bar and a selection of traditional Brazilian hot dishes in addition to unlimited rodizio, where passadores serve barbecue meat on skewers that are carved at the table. Casa Brasil operates two sites in Southampton and others in Brighton, Bournemouth and Portsmouth.

Meatcure closes Leicester site: East Midlands-based gourmet burger restaurant company Meatcure has closed its Leicester restaurant with immediate effect. The company, which is led by Rob Martyniak and Paul Rigby, cited competition from chain restaurants and inconsistent student trade as the reason for the closure and told the Leicester Mercury it had “expanded too quickly”. The restaurant in Highcross Street opened in July 2015 and was the second Meatcure branch to launch. A statement posted on Facebook reads: “So the second phase of the Meatcure restructure has taken place. With a heavy heart we’ve had to let Leicester go. Along with companies such as Crafty, St Martins, Gelato Village and Maiyango, we thought we could offer a cool independent alternative to the ‘big dogs’ round the corner in Highcross. Where some have stayed small, diversified or reinvested in something new, we expanded too quickly and with an inconsistent student trade and being just a few steps from so many big chain restaurants, we’ve decided it’s time to close our doors.” The company now operates three sites – in Bedford, Hinckley and Market Harborough – having closed its restaurant in Leamington Spa earlier this year.

Seagers Restaurants acquires Gorseinon pub for third South Wales site: Seagers Restaurants has acquired a pub in Gorseinon for its third site in South Wales. The family-owned restaurant group, headed by Chris Seager, has acquired the Riverside Inn in High Street. The venue will undergo an extensive refurbishment before a relaunch in the new year. Currently, the pub spans 4,663 square feet, has two bars with restaurant seating, and first-floor office accommodation. As well as a rebrand from pub to licensed restaurant, the reopening will create 40 jobs, taking the company’s headcount close to 100 – it also owns the Bryngwyn in Llanelli and the Grill House in Waunarlwydd, Swansea. There is considerable parking to the rear as well as a front seating area. Seagers operations manager Lee Seager told Wales Online: “We are confident our changes will meet a need in the area for a quality mid-market restaurant serving prime steaks and traditional favourites in a relaxed environment.” Lambert Smith Hampton sold the two-storey building to Seagers, acting on behalf of a private, London-based investor.

More than 12,000 sign petition to save the Strand’s India Club: More than 12,000 people have signed a petition to save the Strand’s India Club in an attempt to halt plans to refurbish the historic restaurant and bar to make way for an upmarket hotel. Marston Properties, which owns the building’s freehold, has submitted plans to Westminster City Council to replace the club’s first-floor canteen-style restaurant and lounge bar with en-suite hotel rooms. The India Club, whose lease expires in 2019, was founded by Krishna Menon, India’s first high commissioner to the UK, and has remained largely unchanged since the 1940s. Comments accompanying the petition have described the club as “irreplaceable” and of “immense historic significance”. India Club director Yadgar Marker told the Evening Standard: “I could have easily modernised (the club) but it has such a strong heritage. The ambience is still the same, the furniture is still the same.” Celebrity fans include writer Will Self, who has described the club as “beautifully old-fashioned”. A Marston Properties spokesman said the submission was “just one explorative option” and “certainly not a notice whatsoever of our intention and must not be interpreted as such”.

Soho Coffee Co builds on hot food range trial with new autumn menu: Artisan fresh food and coffee brand Soho Coffee Co has launched its autumn menu that builds on the extended hot food range it trialled earlier this year. The company said it had extended its food range in line with increasing consumer demand for healthier, “free-from” and vegetarian options across all dayparts. Breakfast offerings include shakshouka on sourdough alongside a trio of organic, overnight bircher pots. Lunch introduces a new range of sourdough naan flatbreads complemented by six hand-made soups. Its new jacket potato range sees the introduction of the Soho Spud Club loyalty programme, with customers receiving their fourth jacket potato free. The company has also extended its choice of hot and cold dairy-free coffee options. Soho Coffee Co operates 40 sites across the UK. Last month, managing director Penny Manuel told Propel the company would focus its expansion on London as it planned ten new outlets next year.

Loungers to open Beeston site next month: Cafe bar group Loungers, which is backed by Lion Capital, will open a site in Beeston, Nottinghamshire, next month. The company will launch Bendigo Lounge on the site of a former charity furniture shop in High Road on Wednesday, 15 November. It will be Loungers’ second venue in the county following the opening of Capo Lounge in Mansfield in May, which was the company’s 100th site. The new venue pays homage to 19th century bare-knuckle boxer William Abednego Thompson, also known as Bendigo, whose former home in Wollaton Road is commemorated by a blue plaque, reports the Nottingham Post. The venue will feature eclectic artwork, pop art-inspired table tops, vintage sofas and school benches. Loungers, which also operates the Cosy Club brand and has 106 sites in total, was founded in 2002 in Bristol by friends David Reid, Alex Reilley and Jake Bishop. Reilly previously said the company expected to hit 200 sites in the next four years and would love to “have a crack” at floating the company.

Ennismore opens second Breddos Tacos site: Gleneagles owner Ennismore has opened a second site for its Mexican street food concept Breddos Tacos – its joint venture with founders Nud Dudhia and Chris Whitney. The venue has opened in Kingly Street with 84 covers – double the size of the debut Breddos Tacos site, which launched in Clerkenwell in December. Unlike its sister venue, the Carnaby site offers a breakfast menu, with dishes such as smoked brisket, potatoes, fried egg and hot-sauce tacos. The venue also features a late-night downstairs bar offering mezcal and margaritas, while new restaurant dishes include wood-grilled whole octopus with mole amarillo, and crispy pig’s head with burnt habanero, alongside ice-cream tacos. Dudhia and Whitney began Breddos Tacos as a “makeshift taco shack” in a Hackney car park in 2011. Its website states: “Our food is influenced by the hundreds of roadside taquerias and restaurants we have encountered on our travels throughout America and Mexico, while utilising the best of British produce.”

Michelin-starred chef Phil Howard to open restaurant in French ski resort: Michelin-starred chef Phil Howard is to open a restaurant in the French ski resort of La Plagne. Having earned two Michelin stars in his 25-year tenure at The Square in Mayfair, Howard opened Elystan Street in 2016. Now he will launch Union in the village of Plagne-Montalbert in the Alps in December. The 35-seat restaurant will open for dinner in the evenings. Howard told the Telegraph: “Through a menu of simple, tasty dishes made with seasonal produce, my aim is to create a restaurant that is known for the quality of its cuisine and service. From an operational point of view, it is small-scale compared with the team of 30 staff I have at Elystan Street, and I had 50 in previous restaurants. I want to do something that is slightly different. It will be 95% French food – that’s where my training is, that’s the food I love. We have a property in Montalbert, one of the villages that connects into La Plagne. We’ve been going there for about ten years. I’ve always liked the idea of feeding hungry people, and skiers always have hearty appetites.”

Peach Pub Company launches new identity: Peach Pub Company has launched a new identity under the slogan “making life peachy for all” to unite its 18 pubs and one boutique hotel under one design. The company, founded in 2002 by Hamish Stoddart, Lee Cash and Jo Eames, has launched a new logo and website with a “contemporary, boutique feel”. Peach worked with Mark McCulloch, founder and group chief executive of brand, marketing and digital agency WE ARE Spectacular, to create the new identity. Eames said: “The idea is to reinforce to our guests that, even though the look, offer and people in our pubs may be different, the welcome will be just as warm and the quality of food and drink just as high. And, if they like one of our pubs, they’re bound to like the others.” In August, Peach Pub Company reported turnover rose to £25.1m in the year ending 8 January 2017, up from £24.8m the year before (54 weeks), showing adjusted like-for-like growth of 4.8%. The group’s Ebitda during the 52-week period was £2.5m.

New World Trading Company opens 16th The Botanist, in Nottingham: Graphite Capital-backed pub restaurant group New World Trading Company has opened a 16th site for its The Botanist brand, this time in Nottingham. The bar and restaurant has launched in the former Fire and Ice building in West Bridgford, creating 50 jobs. The concept takes inspiration from all things botanical, with a cocktail menu of more than 45 creations, many with a plant-based twist, alongside beer and real ale. The food menu includes prawn and chicken gumbo, deli boards and The Botanist’s hanging kebabs. General manager David Derney told the Nottingham Post: “We have always loved the vibrancy of Nottingham and we really saw a home for The Botanist in West Bridgford, not only to bring our distinctive and unique flavour to the area but also to complement a buzzing and cultural scene already thriving there.” Last week, New World Trading Company began work to create a mezzanine level to meet demand at The Botanist site in Newcastle.

Goodbody predicts relatively dry 2018 for Marston’s: Goodbody leisure analyst Brian Devitt has predicted a relatively dry 2018 for Marston’s. Issuing a ‘Hold’ note on the shares with a target price of 110p, Devitt said: “Following the most recent trading update and generally soft trends across the sector, we have reduced our medium term like-for-like sales assumption to 1% in Destination & Premium and 1.5% in Taverns (from 1.5% and 2% respectively). Our earnings-per-share forecasts reduce by circa 3% to 4% in both FY17 and FY18. Marston’s will deliver a post-close trading update on Tuesday (10 October). We expect FY17 like-for-like sales growth of 1.1% in Destination & Premium and 1.7% in Taverns. This would imply a slowdown from +1.3% and +1.9% in the first 42 weeks of the year as the weather comparative should have been tougher in August and September. The outlook for the eating/drinking out sector has become more negative recently. A number of soft updates (Greene King, Fulham Shore, PizzaExpress) have been followed by last week’s news of falling confidence in the CGA business leaders confidence survey. The outlook outside London appears particularly tough. Marston’s remains relatively insulated from certain cost pressures (business rates and input costs) compared with peers, and recent acquisitions afford it a degree of self help. The dividend yield may protect the stock in the near term. However, looking into next year we continue to see better investment opportunities elsewhere in the sector given Marston’s lower London exposure, higher leverage, and weaker cash flows. We set a new target price of 110p and a ‘Hold’ recommendation.”

Comic Strip actor Keith Allen launches Gloucestershire nightclub: Actor and musician Keith Allen, famous for Fat Les anthem Vindaloo and 1980s cult comedy series Comic Strip Presents, has opened a nightclub in Stroud, Gloucestershire. Allen and his business partners – publican Lotte Lyster and sound engineer Tom De Brabant – have transformed the former Twisted Fix club that closed in April. The team has already created an American diner at a former fish and chip shop within the same building, which is run by Allen’s wife Tamzin Malleson. The new club – The Marshall Rooms – has a ground-floor capacity of 450, with a more intimate club setting upstairs and a rooftop terrace. Allen told Gloucestershire Live: “I want it to be a place that is interesting, fun and late. When the rooftop is open it will be a lovely place to go in the evening, with great views. I remember the first time I saw Raging Bull and Robert De Niro had gone way down and lost everything but had a club. I remember thinking: ‘He has got his own club, going round talking to people. I’ll have a bit of that’.”

Revolution holds millionth cocktail masterclass: Revolution Bars Group has held its millionth cocktail masterclass. Launched in 2008, the event has taken 150,000 bookings per year, equating to 2,400 per week across the group’s sites. In each masterclass, a mixologist guides a group of up to six attendees through cocktail-making techniques before inviting them behind the bar to produce their own. The event was designed as a team-building exercise that focuses on engagement, problem-solving, communication and competition. However, a significant number of bookings have come from hen parties and birthdays, with Revolution Bars Group seeing a rise in corporate events that have resulted in it launching corporate masterclass packages. Corporate bookings can be longer and feature additional bartenders, with selected add-ons including snacks and three-course dining packages. Revolution Bars Group commercial director Myles Doran said: “The rapid rise in cocktail masterclass bookings has been staggering and we believe this success is a direct result of what our packages offer, giving customers value for money and an overall educational and fun experience. The launch of our corporate masterclasses has seen a great level of interest already.”

Hotel Chocolat to open shop+cafe site in Stockton-on Tees this week: Hotel Chocolat is to open a site for its shop+cafe format in Stockton-on Tees this week. The company will open the outlet at Teesside Shopping Park on Friday (13 October), reports Gazette Live. Hotel Chocolat has expanded the number of shops with cafes it operates to 15, adding that it sees scope for many more. Co-founder and chief executive Angus Thirlwell said in the company’s full-year results last month: “Through modular design techniques we are now able to open a shop+cafe for the same capital expenditure as a shop-only store. The results from this format have given us confidence to test it in smaller catchments that, if successful, have the potential to materially increase the number of new sites in the UK.”

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