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Wed 3rd Jan 2018 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Eataly eyes IPO in 2018, with opening in City of London also lined up: Eataly, the Italian food emporium, is planning to list shares on the stock exchange in Milan as early as this year, as the group ramps up its expansion with an opening in the UK. The company is on target to raise revenue by a quarter in current financial year, according to Andrea Guerra, its executive chairman. Speaking after returning from the opening of Eataly’s first store on the US west coast in Los Angeles, Guerra said Eataly was on target to post sales of €470m in 2017, up from €380m a year earlier. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation are expected to be about €22m this year. US sales almost doubled in a year after Eataly increased its stores from two to five in the country, he said. It has two stores in New York, and one each in Chicago, LA and Boston. “We think we can continue to open stores for the next ten years. We are really scratching the surface. We think we can have a store in every world capital,” said Guerra, who was formerly chief executive of Luxottica, the eyewear maker. He estimated Eataly would reach annual sales of €1bn to €1.5bn in the “short to mid term”. Guerra did not provide net profit forecasts. Eataly made a net loss in 2016. Eataly was founded by white goods entrepreneur Oscar Farinetti, who still owns the majority of the company. Mr Guerra owns a stake of less than 5%. Tamburi, a Milan-based family office-turned-private equity investor, bought a fifth of Eataly for €100m in 2014. The next move would be to bring in new capital over the next 12 to 18 months “and the obvious road is an IPO”, Guerra said. Last month, the London Evening Standard reported Eataly is set to open in the City of London later this year. A 40,000 sq ft branch is planned for a site on Bishopsgate near Liverpool Street station, according to property sources.

Industry News:

More than 400 booked for Restaurant Marketer & Innovator event series this month: More than 400 senior executives have now booked for Restaurant Marketer & Innovator, the most comprehensive marketing series the sector has seen. Propel will stage the two-day event in partnership with Think Hospitality on Wednesday, 17 January and Thursday, 18 January at One Moorgate Place in London. An array of marketers from agencies and early-stage, growing and rejuvenating brands will take to the stage to share their strategies and winning tactics. Companies and brands attending include Novus, Signature Pubs, Cafe Rouge, Wagamama, Brasserie Bar Co, Las Iguanas, YO! Sushi, Fuller’s, ASK Italian, Mitchells & Butlers, G1 Group, Costa Coffee, Ei Group, Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, Brewhouse & Kitchen, Stonegate Pub Company, Be At One, Revolution Bars Group, Cabana, Thai Leisure Group, New World Trading Company, Pho, Maxwell’s Group, Gather & Gather, Oakman Inns and Restaurants, The Breakfast Club, The Coaching Inn Group, Gail’s Bakery, Gordon Ramsay Restaurants, K10, Giggling Squid, San Carlo Group, Ennismore, TLC Inns, Polpo, FrogPubs, The Real Eating Company, Claus Meyer Holding, VIP Pizza, 200 Degrees, Coppa Club, Snug Bars, Albion & East, Pint Shop, True North Brew Co, Darwin & Wallace, Chit Chaat Chai, BabaBoom, Electric Star and Eat Poke. For full details of the two days, co-ordinated by James Hacon and Ann Elliott respectively, click hereConference prices for two days are £525 plus VAT for operators and £795 plus VAT for suppliers. Companies buying two tickets will receive a third one free. A one-day rate of £345 plus VAT is available to operators only. For more information and to book, call Jo Charity on 01444 810304 or email or Anne Steele on 01444 817691 or

Compass Group confirms Dominic Blakemore as chief executive after tragic death of Richard Cousins: Compass Group has reported Dominic Blakemore has taken charge at the world’s largest contract catering firm following the tragic death of chief executive Richard Cousins. Blakemore had been due to succeed Cousins following his planned retirement in March but the FTSE 100 company confirmed on Tuesday the appointment had been brought forward. Cousins, 58, was killed in a seaplane crash in Australia on New Year’s Eve, along with his fiance Emma Bowden, 48, his two sons, Edward, 23, and William, 25, and Ms Bowden’s 11-year-old daughter Heather. The plane came down in the Hawkesbury River off Jerusalem Bay in Sydney after picking the family up from an exclusive restaurant. Paul Walsh, Compass Group chairman, said: “We are deeply shocked and saddened by this terrible news. The thoughts of everyone at Compass are with Richard’s family and friends, and we extend our deepest sympathies to them. It has been a great privilege to know Richard personally and to work with him for the last few years. Richard was known and respected for his great humanity and a no-nonsense style that transformed Compass into one of Britain’s leading companies.”

London’s first women’s only private members’ club is granted alcohol licence: The founders of London’s first women-only private members’ club have been granted an alcohol licence. Described as “an oasis in the heart of the capital for working women”, The AllBright is set to open in a five-storey Georgian townhouse in Fitzrovia. It is being developed by entrepreneur Debbie Wosskow and former Hearst magazines boss Anna Jones, who hope the club will attract women from arts and media, politics and business. For £600 a year plus a £250 joining fee, founding members will have spaces to work, host meetings and network, as well as a chance to relax at the club’s treatment rooms. Wosskow and Jones asked Westminster council for an alcohol licence for activities that “may include a glass of wine with a networking lunch; champagne to celebrate a business deal; or drinks served during an event in the function rooms”. The application, which would allow the 170-capacity club to serve drink until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, had received objections from the Met police and Westminster’s licensing department over concerns about alcohol-fuelled disorder in the West End.

London’s Night Czar goes full-time on £75,000 per annum: London’s Night Czar Amy Lame has increased her commitment to the role by going full-time since September last year, it has been revealed. The “watching brief” of the 46-year-old American hired by Sadiq Khan in November 2016 encompasses multiple aspects of London’s after-dark life and economy. These range from pubbing and clubbing to transport and frontline NHS services, and multiple points in between – notably issues relating to women. Her initial part-time status reflected the fact that the Mayor’s office was “very cautious about what the job might entail”. “London is not a part-time city!” she told the London Evening Standard. “[Now] I’m able to dig a bit deeper.” This coming Sunday Lame also starts her new BBC 6 Music radio show. Having filled in for various DJs over the past few years, this former radio presenter on the London station GLR is taking over the two-hour slot vacated by Jarvis Cocker’s much-loved Sunday Service.

Nomura names McDonald’s as its top US restaurant stock pick for 2018: Analysts at Nomura have selected McDonald’s as their top stock pick in the US restaurant sector for 2018. Nomura points to the upcoming roll-out of fresh beef menu items by McDonald’s and the new dollar menu as traffic drivers, while the on-going issues at Subway is seen helping the chain win more market share. The first stock split for McDonald’s in more than 20 years could also be in the mix. Nomura’s new price target on McDonald’s is $190 – McDonald’s stock was priced at $172.96 before the market opened yesterday.

Company News:

Coaching Inn Group reports like-for-like sales up 7.8% over four weeks of December: Coaching Inn Group, led by Kevin Charity, has reported like-for-like sales were up 7.8% for the four weeks to 31 December, with a bumper Christmas period with like-for-like sales up 15.8% for the final two weeks. Average weekly sales were £36,000 net during the period across its 13 sites, with average sales rising to £38,500 during the final two weeks. Finance director Ed Walsh said: “A key part of this success was down to improved Christmas Day bookings and festive party nights that were driven by a focused sales effort from our central reservations office and improved take-up of our Christmas accommodation packages. New Year’s Eve continued to be the biggest day in the period with sales topping £140,000 across 14 sites – up 6.2% on a like-for-like basis – although Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were the best year-on-year performers, up 17.2% on 2016. The Feathers Hotel in Ledbury (our fourteenth site which was acquired on 19 December) contributed extremely well with weekly sales averaging £50,000 net over the two final weeks of the period.”

Red Mist Leisure reports December like-for-likes up 3.2%: Pub operator Red Mist Leisure has reported sales exceeded £900,000 in December for the first time – group sales were £902,827, up 15.66% against last year (£780,555). Like-for-like sales were up 3.21%. Managing director Mark Robson said: “(It’s) a pleasing result given that sales were adversely affected by snow on three days where we suffered numerous cancellations at our rural pubs. Once again, all of our properties were closed on Christmas day so our staff could enjoy some valuable time at home with their families. Thus far margins look encouraging and costs appear to be in line with our exceptions and we therefore fully expect last month to be our most profitable on record.”

Zing Zing reports record trading on New Year’s Day: Zing Zing, the London-based Chinese takeaway firm that has Jamie Barber and Maurice Abboudi on the board, has reported New Year’s Day produced record trading. Chief executive Josh Magidson told investors on Crowdcube: “In total we made 880 orders and took circa £18,000 with great service.” The group, which has four stores in the capital, has raised £702,720 on Crowdcube, well above its £500,000 target with eight days still to go. Zing Zing, which is valued at £5.85 million, has now secured over £2 million following a £1.6 million fundraising last year. Magidson is aiming to have 28 takeaways up and running by 2021 as the firm aims to hit £33 million in sales. He said: “We want to dominate the London market.” Its Crowdcube pitch states: “Our revenue in 2016 was £1.23m with Ebitda of -£300k (including a £93k spend from our last Crowdcube raise). We have seen sales grow by 75% to October and are profitable at a store level since October.” 

Financial group buys Birmingham pub for £3.2m: A West Midlands financial group has bought a Birmingham pub which recently reopened after undergoing a major renovation. AFH Financial Group has acquired The Canal House, on the city’s Gas Street Basin, for £3.2 million. The Canal House is the second pub the £100 million group has bought following its acquisition of the Sir John Arderne in Nottinghamshire. The Canal House, previously known as James Brindley, reopened in August after lying vacant and unused for eight years. Richard Bryan, property investment fund manager at Bromsgrove-based AFH, said: “Birmingham’s vibrant social scene continues to attract large numbers of people from across the West Midlands and beyond.” The Canal House’s location at the heart of Birmingham’s thriving canal side, close to Brindleyplace and the Mailbox, made it an attractive purchase as part of our ambitious strategy to expand our property portfolio substantially within the next five years. We look forward to working with the Canal House’s managers, New World, to maintain and enhance its record as a popular and successful venue.”

BrewDog wants to convert Islington site into The Hopworks: BrewDog wants to convert its closed Dog Eat Dog Islington site into The Hopworks – a “hybrid between bar use, food, retail and educational facility”. The education element would consist of staff teaching customers how to create their own beer using home brew kits installed in the venue. The company said: “Customers will be able to attend classes to suit varying levels of ability and experience, and will be able to learn about all aspects of beer making, from raw ingredients to brewing technique. They would also propose for the site to host events to showcase local brewers to give them a platform to share their knowledge and experience.” “Rare and sought after” beers will be sold alongside stone-baked pizzas if the plans are given the green light. Councillors will vote on the application tomorrow.

JD Wetherspoon launches January sale: JD Wetherspoon is holding it annual January drinks sale between 2 and 17 January. “Department stores and shops hold their sales in January, so it is the perfect time to have a sale in the pub too,” said John Hutson, Wetherspoon’s chief executive. “The range of drinks on sale in the pub is aimed at suiting a wide variety of tastes – and I believe that the January sale will prove popular with customers.” Include on draught are: Magners cider, Sharp’s Doom Bar, Shipyard American pale ale (excluding Scotland), Innis & Gunn lager (exclusive to Scotland), Strongbow Dark Fruit, Coors Light, and Guinness. Spirits included in the sale are: Gordon’s gin, Smirnoff Red vodka and Bacardi Carta Blanca rum. Wines offered on discount are: Coldwater Creek, Sauvignon Blanc Valle Central, Chile, Chardonnay, California, Pinot Grigio delle Venezie, Italy, Cabernet Sauvignon Valle Central, Chile, Merlot Valle Central, Chile and White Zinfandel Rosé, California.

Iqbal Wahhab plans Atticus opening in February: Cinnamon Club founder plans new opening on February: Iqbal Wahhab, founder of the Cinnamon Club and Roast, is to open a Southern US-style eatery called Atticus in February, which he hopes to expand into a nationwide chain. Atticus will specialise in “soul food”, Southern US staples such as barbecued meats, fried chicken, pork ribs, stews and macaroni. The food will be sourced from sustainable British farms. It is thought that customers on average will spend £10 for breakfast, £25 for lunch and £35 for dinner. Wahhab and his backers expect to spend £1.5 million on the development and opening Atticus. The bar and restaurant, which is named after Atticus Finch from Harper Lee’s novel To Kill A Mockingbird, will be based in Angel, north London. Wahhab said that if it proves to be successful, he will look to expand Atticus into a chain of restaurants. Wahhab added that he wants the restaurant to provide opportunities for disadvantaged people such as ex-offenders. To that end, he has partnered with Bounce Back, which helps ex-offenders with training and finding work. The charity supplied people to paint and decorate the new restaurant.

Michelin-starred chef scraps Salford restaurant plan: Michelin-starred chef Tim Allen has revealed his plans for a Salford restaurant have been scrapped. Allen had been working on a new restaurant concept inside the City Suites luxury apartment hotel development on Chapel Street, earmarked for a 2018 launch. But the chef confirmed on his social media accounts last week that “Manchester is no more unfortunately”. Allen, who held the prestigious Michelin Star during his tenure at Launceston Place in London and Wild Rabbit in Kingham, had been announced earlier this year as the executive director of food and beverage at Select Property Group, which owns City Suites. There had been plans to open the restaurant in the downstairs corner unit of the high rise block, which would have its own separate on-street entrance to diners. But a joint statement said: “The economics of this operation do not work for either party .We have been working with chef Tim Allen for the last three months on a new restaurant concept in Manchester. After full and careful joint consideration we have concluded that the economics of this operation do not work for either party. We thank Tim for his extremely valuable contribution to the project during his time with us and we wish him every success in all his future endeavors.”

Smooy to open pop-up site at Intu Metrocentre: International frozen yogurt retailer Smooy, which has more than 150 stores, is to expand by opening its first north east pop-up store at Intu Metrocentre. The brand uses natural yogurt that’s low in fat, high in fibre and gluten free, and offers customers over 30 toppings to choose from. Fran Hernández Gómez, marketing and communications director at Smöoy, said: “We have more than 150 stores across the world, but opening our first store at Intu Metrocentre will allow us to reach a high footfall of customers across the north east for the first time. The centre is the perfect place for us to introduce our brand, and we can’t wait to make customers smile as they take a scoop out of our tasty treat.” Kate Grant, regional managing director, Intu, said: “We’re excited to see another international retailer choosing to expand with Intu as it launches its first pop-up store in the north east. We’re seeing more and more overseas brands use Intu to enter the UK market, and pop-up stores are a great way to give them a chance to raise their brand profile, while customers engage with their brand in an innovative way.”

Oakman Inns lines up £1.7m investment in Buckinghamshire pub: Oakman Inns and Restaurants has tabled plans for a £1.7m refurbishment of the historic Polecat Inn in Prestwood, Buckinghamshire. The company wants to demolish the current restaurant extension and replace it with a new one, while also making changes to the car park and internal alterations so disabled toilets and baby-changing areas can be added. The company says the “well-liked” pub suffers with a “lack of good kitchen space and storage and the number of covers available is not sustainable for the business”. Their plans include a new “contemporary” building which will be linked to the main pub with glass and a new re-sited car park – to replace the currently “inadequate” one – nearer to the main entrance. Oakman Inns chief executive Peter Borg-Neal said: “CAMRA suggested that the UK loses around 21 pubs every week, largely because they cannot expand, develop or provide what customers want in the 21st Century. Our investment would create 40 jobs, generate an increase for the council in business rates and help to drive the local economy from additional visitors. The current owners, Mr and Mrs Whitehouse, are convinced that The Polecat must expand, and it has to grow regarding the breadth of its offer and the number of customers it can accommodate.”

Michelin-stared chef aims to expand with new site in Ilfracombe, turns to Kickstarter: A Michelin-starred chef has begun a small-scale crowdfunding appeal on Kickstarter to bring a new restaurant to Ilfracombe High Street. Thomas Carr of The Olive Room, together with his brother Kevin and friend Richard Evans, hope to take over the old Lamb Hotel premises to open a new Seafood and Grill restaurant. Carr said: “Every business needs money to begin with, and there are a number of ways to get that. We wanted to find the most effective way, as we have some great ideas for the business and also want to keep the costs to the customers as low as possible. We thought Ilfracombe, and North Devon, would be the ideal place to crowdfund as there is such a great crowd to fund from.” Carr gained Ilfracombe’s first Michelin star for The Olive Room in 2016 and retained it this year, as well as adding three AA rosettes to his collection. Kevin Carr is a world record holder for the fastest time running around the world, while Rich Evans co-founded North Devon marketing agency BlueFrog Media. If successful, the restaurant hopes to be open as early as February or March this year. The Kickstarter campaign aims to raise £15,000 – just over £5,000 has been pledged so far by 51 investors.

Williams Bros eyes expansion to become Scotland’s second largest craft brewer: One of Scotland’s best-known craft brewers has outlined plans to build a new facility in Alloa, which will future-proof it for the next two decades. Williams Bros hopes to build a brewery capable of producing up to 200,000 hectolitres annually on a greenfield site near its current base in the Clackmannanshire town. In terms of scale of Scottish craft beer production, it would be second only to BrewDog’s one million hectolitre site in Ellon. The plans also include canning and bottling lines which could be contracted out to smaller brewers. “It will cost an awful lot of money but it will give us 20 years of security in terms of production capability, new machinery and efficiencies,” said Scott Williams. Williams, who established the brewer with his brother Bruce in 1992 as an offshoot of the family home brewing business, said the development was being undertaken in two stages. Funding is in place, a site has been identified and discussions are underway with the council for acquiring the land. In the meantime, the current site will double in capacity to more than 100,000 hectolitres, which Williams said, would allow for a seamless transition to the new site.

Mitchells & Butlers to convert business park Harvester to Miller & Carter brand: Mitchells & Butlers is to convert a Harvester site at a business park, Centrum 100 Business Park, in Branston, Burton-upon-Trent into its premium Miller & Carter brand in spring this year. A spokesman for Mitchells & Butlers said: “From time to time we review our estate and take the decision to convert a business to another of our successful brands. We are planning to convert the Harvester Centrum to a Miller & Carter Steakhouse in spring 2018. All of the current team will be offered job opportunities with the new restaurant.” The nearest current Miller & Carter Steakhouse is just off the A52 in Wollaton, in Nottingham. The Branston site sites directly across from a Toby Carvery.

Modern crêperie concept to open in Spitalfields Artillery Passage: L’Ami Malo, a modern crêperie and bar inspired by Breton flavours and the small town of St Malo in north west France and the brainchild of co-founders Emilien Lesourd and Vincent Couvreur, will open on 31 January on Spitalfields’ Artillery Passage, near Liverpool Street. Head chef Williams Guillemot, formerly of Clos Maggiore, has created a variety of sweet and savoury dishes with choices such as ‘maki’-style rolls of Bayonne ham with Comté cheese, tomato tartare, roasted hazelnuts and baby spinach; and galettes featuring confit duck leg with caramelised pear and red wine jus. Sweet crêpes come with fillings from classic lemon and sugar to apple compote, butter sauce and salted caramel. Prices range from £5 to £15 for a crêpe/galette. The 1,140 sq ft, 54-cover restaurant and bar is split over two floors (30 upstairs, 24 downstairs) has been designed by ADMerlin Design Studio. Lesourd said: “We’ve taken a fantastic site in bustling Artillery Passage, moments from Liverpool Street, with excellent footfall. We can’t wait to show Londoners our contemporary take on a traditional crêperie. We hope they’ll get a sense of all the love and passion we have put into L’Ami Malo.”

Yum China expands Taco Bell footprint: Yum China Holdings has opened two new Taco Bell restaurants in Shanghai, China. Following the successful opening of the first Taco Bell restaurant in China earlier this year in Shanghai’s Lujiazui area, Yum China has opened a new Taco Bell restaurant in a premium shopping mall in Wu Jiao Chang, close to some of Shanghai’s top universities, and opened a restaurant in Feng Sheng Li, a popular shopping precinct. “The response to our first Taco Bell store in Shanghai has been fantastic, and we are very excited to introduce two more unique restaurants to the city,” said Micky Pant, chief executive of Yum China. “The new restaurants integrate Taco Bell’s signature brand and spirit into the local community, and bring both classic menu items and original recipes to cater to Chinese customers.” In keeping with the “Live Mas” spirit of exploration and innovation, the Taco Bell restaurants will introduce a new dinner menu, exclusive to China, as well as a range of freshly grilled menu items. The two new Taco Bell restaurants in Shanghai will also introduce a new service model, with orders delivered directly to designated tables. “Bringing the Taco Bell experience to more customers globally in locally relevant ways is key to our continued growth,” said Brian Niccol, chief executive officer of Taco Bell Corp. “These new restaurants have truly blended the Taco Bell brand within their communities through locally designed restaurants and customised food and service options. We are delighted to see the reception to Taco Bell in China and look forward to bringing the ‘Live Mas’ spirit to more consumers across the country.” 

McDonald’s warns customers against eating at 169 of its restaurants in India: McDonald’s is telling customers not to eat at more than 100 of its restaurants in India, saying the food doesn’t meet its standards for quality and safety. The company said there are “serious compliance risks” at 169 of its Indian restaurants that are operated by one of its franchise partners, Connaught Plaza Restaurants (CPRL), Quartz India reports. McDonald’s India has been locked in a bitter battle with CPRL for years. Four months ago, the company terminated its franchise agreement with CPRL. “Since the termination of the franchise agreement, McDonald’s India has not been able to verify if the unauthorised McDonald’s restaurants operated by CPRL in north and east India are complying with applicable McDonald’s standards, including those pertaining to supplies, operations and safety standards, and quality required for McDonald’s products,” a spokesman for McDonald’s India told Quartz. The warning from McDonald’s comes several days after dozens of CPRL’s restaurants were shut down due to a disagreement with a supplier. CPRL has promised to find a new supplier to reopen the outlets, but McDonald’s India says the restaurants need to be shut down permanently.

Beatnikz Republic plans new craft beer bar and street food kitchen: Manchester microbrewery Beatnikz Republic has revealed plans for a new city centre craft beer bar and street food kitchen. Founded as a roving operation in London, the brewery moved north to open its first permanent brewery under a railway arch on Red Bank last year. Now founder and head brewer Paul Greetham has announced he is to open a bar later this year. The venue will feature 14 keg lines evenly split between the brewery’s own beers and guest ales, served alongside quality cider, wine, spirits, soft drinks and coffee. There will also be a fresh food offering to look forward to every month as familiar names from the city’s street food scene take turns in the kitchen. Greetham said: “The popularity of street food has gone a bit crazy in the last few years. There are so many amazing, passionate people making really interesting food. The traders we have spoken to love the idea – they can have a permanent home for a month and people can come and have maybe Ghanaian street food one month and Italian the next. It keeps it fresh and interesting.” The bar will build on the offer at the brewery’s former on-site taproom, which hosted events including a doughnut-paired beer tasting before its closure around two months ago. “There was simply not enough space in the unit and because it was so cold, it wasn’t worthwhile coming into during winter,” added Greetham. “But over the summer it was really good fun and that has driven the bar idea.” The bar will be based in a 2,000 sq ft unit between Market Street and St Peter’s Square, with the exact location to be revealed soon. It is hoped it will be open in May or June 2018, with opening hours from 10am to midnight, licence permitting.

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