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Fri 5th Jan 2018 - Update: Stonegate, Beds and Bars, Byron, BrewDog, Jamie Oliver et al
Stonegate Pub Company sees 20% growth in late-night sales as pop-ups quench millennial thirst for experiences: Stonegate Pub Company’s late-night division has seen 20% sales growth for a second year in a row, with a range of pop-up activities helping to quench millennials’ thirst for experiences. The company said experiences had become the number-one driver in late-night activity and it had dialled into millennial trends by “bringing the festival atmosphere to the masses”, with each event designed to increase footfall and dwell time. Stonegate staged more than 40 events across its portfolio in year one, while sales increased 22% in year two, with 75 concepts taking place. Working with major drinks brands, Stonegate said the most popular concept had been “One Night Only” with Smirnoff, while “Ciroc On Arrival”, which focuses on VIP entry and bottle delivery, had led to a 300% increase in sales of ultra-premium vodka Ciroc. Stonegate said smaller themes such as “Club Tropicana”, “It’s Electrifying” and “Spice Girls” had trialled successfully, while two secret themes would go live later this year. The company said a focus on “immersive entertainment and bringing the underground scene to a mainstream audience” had resulted in a 90% net promoter score for atmosphere on its customer service dashboard. Head of marketing Alan Armstrong said: “Targeting millennials is key for us and our in-depth research has led us in the direction of providing the best experiences within the late-night market. Launching these events across our portfolio with our key suppliers has led to fantastic results and 2018 is set to be our best yet.”

ALMR – ‘latte levy’ would undermine investment and threaten jobs: The introduction of a “latte levy” on disposable coffee cups would increase costs for operators, undermine investment and threaten jobs, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has warned. The ALMR has called on the government to promote other schemes to address waste, pointing out many of its members had launched recycling initiatives or discounts for customers who provide their own reusable cups. Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Efforts to reduce waste are welcome and steps to tackle environmental damage are laudable, but the major concern here is a ‘latte levy’ would simply increase costs for businesses without having any discernible effect in tackling the problem. Small and medium-sized businesses would be particularly vulnerable to cost increases and many of them would find it difficult to absorb this cost or even pass it on to customers as the cost of the cup is already factored into the price. Efforts by businesses to tackle the issue are recognised in the report and some of the ALMR’s members have begun loyalty schemes or provided discounts for customers using their own reusable cups. Steps such as these help address waste without increasing costs for businesses and actually save customers money. The sector is taking the issue seriously and the Paper Cup Recovery & Recycling Group’s annual report states we now have more than 4,000 recycling points from a standing start. This is not necessarily the same as the charge on plastic bags because, unlike a trip to the supermarket, buying a coffee is usually an impulse purchase and waste generated by paper cups amounts to just 0.7% of the UK’s total packaging waste. Action taken at the other end of the chain to improve recycling facilities rather than deter purchases might be a more effective option. Schemes to tackle waste are welcome and businesses are ready to play their part but an additional tax on businesses, one which would increase costs and potentially threaten jobs, is not the answer.”

Beds and Bars reports like-for-likes up 5%, Ebitda increases 9%: Pan-European hostel and bar company Beds and Bars, led by chief executive Keith Knowles, has reported like-for-like sales increased 5% for the year ending 31 March 2017, rising to £47.7m. Gross margin was maintained at more than 80% and Ebitda was up 9% to £4.47m. The company stated: “2017 was a year of investment in our core properties, including The Flying Horse in Liverpool Street and our unit in Shepherds Bush that were completed in the financial year with further enhancements already under way in 2018.” The Flying Horse extension involved adding 34 beds and is expected to generate £245,000 in revenue and £145,000 in Ebitda in FY18. The group sold its unit in Covent Garden, which made funds available to invest £6.5m in the refurbishment and extension of its flagship hostel “The Village” in Borough High Street, London. The project will double the bed stock at the site and is expected to generate an additional £2.2m of revenue and £1.2m of Ebitda when it comes fully on stream in the financial year 2018/2019. The group reported it is planning to further expand in Europe and had partnered with a French investment house to lease sites in select capital cities on a turnkey basis. The company is actively seeking further partners to expand the business in capital cities across Europe. It said investment was ongoing in its online booking engine, including a multi-language feature and new no-deposit model, which has enabled the group to increase its direct booking in the face of “fierce competition” from online travel agencies.

Byron closes Glasgow restaurant: Better burger brand Byron has closed its restaurant in Glasgow. The West George Street branch shut its doors yesterday (4 January) after 18 months in the city. An email to customers read: “After 18 months of serving proper hamburgers, we have closed our Glasgow restaurant.” STV News said it had contacted Byron but been unable to get a comment. In September, Byron said it was seeking an early exit from its site at the Corn Exchange in Manchester, reducing its number of restaurants in the city from three to two. It was looking to exit in early 2018 and would be the first restaurant in the renovated building to do so. Byron also appointed Simon Cope as chief executive having joined the company as managing director in July from Wagamama.

BrewDog granted licence to convert Islington site to new Hopworks concept: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has been granted a licence for its new Hopworks concept in London. Hopworks, which will be based at the company’s closed Dog Eat Dog site in Islington, will be a hybrid between a bar, eaterie, retail and an educational facility. The key focus of the premises will be the installation of several small home-brew kits that will allow customers to make beer in a controlled environment and attend classes to learn about all aspects of beer-making. The site will host events to showcase local brewers, giving them a platform to share their knowledge and experience. It will also house a retail unit, selling home-brew ingredients and a selection of locally produced craft beers, as well as rare beer from around the world. There will also be a bar selling BrewDog and other beer that will offer a full menu of stone-baked pizzas made using brewers’ yeast. Manchester law firm Kuits obtained the licence from Islington Council on behalf of BrewDog. Kuits head of licensing Anthony Lyons said: “Although the premises is located in one of Islington’s Cumulative Impact Zones and faced fierce opposition from local objectors, I believe the licensing committee was persuaded Hopworks is both interesting and different and, as such, fits with its statement of licensing policy.”

Randy’s Wing Bar to open City restaurant for second London site: Randy’s Wing Bar, which claims to be the UK’s original chicken wing restaurant and bar, is to start expansion by opening a second site in London, this time in Aldgate. Following a number of pop-ups and pub residencies, founders Richard Thacker and Andy Watts opened a permanent site for their concept in Hackney Wick in 2016. The new 56-cover venue will open at the end of this month in the Minories, with new additions to the menu including boneless wings, baked oysters, sliders and a bespoke homemade sauce, alongside chicken burgers, loaded fries, sides and desserts. The new venue will also offer City workers a selection of lunchtime salad boxes, wraps and boneless wings to take away, while mixologist Stu Bale, formerly of Hix Restaurants and 69 Colebrooke Row, has created a new cocktail menu. The beer offering will be curated by craft beer merchants Kicking Horse. Set within the original City boundaries, interiors will display an industrial style featuring wood, steel and brickwork. The debut Randy’s Wing Bar is at Here East, the canal-side dining and drinking area on the site of the former press centre for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Jamie Oliver opens seventh Jamie’s Deli, at Schiphol airport: Chef Jamie Oliver has opened his seventh Jamie’s Deli, and fifth in an airport, at Schiphol in the Netherlands. The new site has been launched in partnership with UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist SSP Group. The new deli serves breakfast, coffee, sandwiches, salads, wraps as well as hot items. Jamie Oliver now has more than 50 restaurants internationally across 24 countries.

Black Country Inns acquires community pub near Bromsgrove: Black Country Inns, the pub division of Dudley-based brewer Black Country Ales, has acquired community pub The Cross Inn in Finstall, near Bromsgrove, in a deal brokered by agents Christie & Co. The pub closed in September but was listed as an Asset of Community Value. Joshua Sullivan, licensed business agent at Christie & Co’s Birmingham office, said: “I am delighted to have been able to assist in this transaction; a fabulous result for the vendor, purchaser and local community. Black Country Inns has confirmed it plans to keep it as a real ale house to provide a wide selection of products.” The Cross Inn was marketed freehold off an asking price of £275,000.

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