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Fri 19th Jan 2018 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Sector like-for-likes down 0.1% in December, wet-led businesses enjoy best of festive trading: Britain’s managed pub and restaurant groups saw collective like-for-like sales marginally down by 0.1% over the six-week Christmas and new year period, according to the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker. The results, which cover the six weeks to January 7 2018, showed managed pub groups did better than casual dining restaurants, delivering a small increase in trade with collective like-for-likes up 0.6% on last year. Restaurant chains saw collective like-for-likes down 1.0%. “The public still went out to eat and drink but essentially it was a repeat of last Christmas, said Peter Martin, vice-president of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM. “Better trading in the second half of the festive season, when people were mainly off work, failed to provide enough of a boost to beat 2016’s overall numbers. It looks like people were more willing to go out to drink than eat this festive season, with wet-led pubs and bars having the best of trading. Across the managed pub market, drinks sales were up 1.8%, while food was down 1.4%. Food-led operations, both pubs and restaurants, generally had a worse Christmas than 2016.” Although London, like the rest of the country, turned out flat overall, the capital saw a bigger contrast in fortunes between restaurants and pubs, with casual dining down 2.6% inside the M25 and pubs up 1.5%. Martin said: “Looking across the six-week period, the run-up to the holidays saw generally poor trading, with the snow in particular hitting sales. Trading picked up in the last three weeks either side of the core holidays. Every year the Christmas period seems to become more concentrated. Although the sector will be disappointed it didn’t beat 2016’s numbers, the results do reflect the flat trading we’ve seen in the market over the past year – and they also come on the back of increases for the past two Christmases.” Total sales growth among the 37 companies in the tracker cohort was 3.4% compared with the festive period last year, reflecting the continuing if much more subdued effect of new openings. Mark Sheehan, managing director of Coffer Corporate Leisure, said: “Despite very negative press, particularly associated with restaurant sector trading, the eating and drinking out market is not in free fall. Trading over the important December trading period was flat, with pubs trading better than restaurants. There is no question the trading environment is competitive but these numbers are not the car crash that has been widely portrayed. 2018 will be a challenging year and we expect to see bars and pubs trading more robustly than restaurants.” Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, added: “Increased drinks spend across the managed pub market over the festive period was not enough to offset disappointing casual dining like-for-likes, rounding off a flat year for the sector and failing to give operators Christmas cheer. Since the new year a number of high-profile brands have already announced site closure plans and, with consumer confidence waning and uncertainty ahead of Brexit, we expect our restructuring teams to be kept busy in the months ahead.”

Industry News:

Propel Multi Club Conference open for bookings, Jon Collins to present: The first Propel Multi Club Conference of 2018 is open for bookings. The full-day event takes place on Wednesday, 7 March at the Grange Hotel in St Paul’s, London. Jon Collins, former chief executive of CGA, who has returned to the UK after living in Chicago for two years, will talk about contrasts between the US and UK markets and offer his thoughts on trends and practices over there that could be ripe for adoption over here. Multi-site operators of pubs, restaurants and foodservice outlets can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele at

Supply Chain Masterclass open for bookings: Supply Chain Masterclass, which will look at how to achieve best-in-class supply chain efficiency, is open for bookings. The one-day event, launched by Propel in partnership with Food Partners founder and managing director Campbell Askwith, will take place in the Fifth Floor State Rooms at 30 Euston Square, London, on Wednesday, 21 February. The event will pose the question: “Who should be responsible for a restaurant, pub or hotel group’s purchasing strategy?” Speakers will include Leon French, category procurement director at Brakes, who will look at the real impact of Brexit and other material factors that have influenced inflation during the past 18 months and provide a view into the future. Former Intertain chief operating officer and now sector non-executive director Simon Kaye will discuss the opportunities to speedily challenge practice and deliver projects and value by thinking laterally. Jeremy Ward, previously chief information officer for Kempinski Hotels and chief operating officer of Iris and now a cloud strategist with Cloudreach, will discuss the current trends in mobile technology and what you should be preparing for when looking to implement solutions and systems for your customers. Tickets are £295 for Propel premium members and £345 for others. To book, email Anne Steele on or call 01444 817691.

Christie & Co – innovation to drive pubs sector in 2018 with ‘plenty of room for growth’: Operators can look forward to a period of increasing confidence this year with “plenty of room for growth”, according to the latest report by agents Christie & Co. In its Business Outlook 2018 report, Christie & Co said despite a “tough” 2017, with ongoing operational and financial pressures in the pubs market, the sector was proving “extremely resilient” as operators turned towards innovation to improve management and customer service. Average prices in the pubs sector rose 3.8% in 2017, although they declined 3.4% in the restaurants segment. The hotels sector saw a 5.8% increase. The report said new avenues of profit such as micro-brewing and adding rooms had significantly improved margins, while 2018 would see increasing competition for sites as pub values continued to rise. It added a resurgence in demand for tenanted assets “could drive excellent-value growth”. Christie & Co said it remained “increasingly confident” across all its sectors and expected further consolidation during 2018 as cost pressures continued. Neil Morgan, Christie & Co managing director – pubs and restaurants, said: “The pubs market in 2017 was tough, with the introduction of new or increased operational and financial pressures such as the Apprenticeship Levy and exacerbated by increases in the National Living Wage and business rates. Similar pressures will be felt throughout 2018 but the sector is proving itself to be extremely resilient as operators turn towards innovation to improve management and customer service. New avenues of profitability such as micro-brewing and the addition of accommodation have been shown to significantly improve margins. While some business failures are likely as we leave the peak of the cycle, 2018 will see increasing competition for sites as pub values continue to rise. Demand will stem from the growing interest of private equity and trade buyers, as well as operators and investors seeking opportunities in underinvested marginal assets and portfolios. Resurgence in demand for tenanted assets could drive excellent-value growth.” Global managing director Chris Day added: “We are seeing signs of increasing confidence and economic positivity in almost every sector in which we operate and pipelines continue to grow by double digits as we enter 2018. In short, the economy is recovering and there is still plenty of room for growth.”

Crowdcube reports record year: Crowdfunding platform Crowdcube has reported more than 120,000 investments were made via its website in 2017, a rise of 48%. About £130m was invested during the period, the highest for any UK-based crowdfunder. Crowdcube is growing its footprint outside the UK, with €8.3m (£7.3m) invested in European companies in 2017, a 56% increase, and $225,000 raised for a US company. Equity crowdfunding makes up a quarter of all UK deal activity by volume, according to research company Beauhurst. A record 328 companies chose to raise funds on Crowdcube last year, a year-on-year rise of 23%. The company has also attracted a number of larger companies, with 32 rounds of funding worth more than £1m in 2017. Crowdcube co-founder and chief marketing officer Luke Lang told Insider Media: “Everyone at Crowdcube is thrilled by these numbers, which confirm crowdfunding is now an established, fast-growing and much-valued element of the funding ecosystem for growth companies.”

Hospitality businesses integral to new towns, says ALMR: The Association of Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has reminded the newly created All Party Parliamentary Group for New Towns about the vital social and economic role hospitality businesses play in communities. The All Party Parliamentary Group has been launched with the aim of delivering a wave of new towns across the UK. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Pubs, bars and other hospitality venues are valuable social spaces and focal points for communities. As the group begins to make its plans for new towns of the 21st century, we are reminding them of the positive contribution, both economic and social, hospitality businesses make to villages, towns and cities. In any thriving new community, hospitality venues can provide jobs for residents and can be a centre for the communal life, with pubs particularly flourishing in this role. A new town without a social communal space including pubs, cafes, restaurants and bars will, in all probability, lack the sense of cohesion and vitality only hospitality venues provide. With a blank slate from which to work, planners also have a great opportunity to ensure they plan positively in a way that gives hospitality venues an opportunity to thrive in an environment free from hassle. The creation of a new town is a fantastic opportunity to produce a new community with its own identity. Hospitality businesses will be vital to a new town’s success.”

Intu to open £180m Watford extension featuring 11 restaurants in October: Intu has said it will launch the £180m extension to its shopping complex in Watford in October after holding a topping-out ceremony. The expansion will add 400,000 square feet to Intu Watford, with the extension anchored by a 113,000 square foot Debenhams store and featuring a nine-screen IMAX Cineworld cinema, a Hollywood Bowl ten-pin bowling alley, 11 restaurants and 13 retail stores. Intu regional managing director Rebecca Ryman said: “Our plans will establish the centre as a daytime and evening destination and drive what is already a busy and prosperous local economy, with 38 million visitors to Watford high street every year.” The 129-week development programme began in March 2016. When complete, Intu Watford will become one of the UK’s largest in-town shopping centres at 1.4 million square feet. Last month, rival company Hammerson made a £3.4bn all-share offer for Intu in a deal that would merge ownership of the UK’s largest shopping centres.

Company News:

Victor Garvey closes Encant to focus on launching new concept in Soho, completes buy-out of investors: Chef and restaurateur Victor Garvey has closed modern Spanish restaurant Encant, one of two sites he operates in Covent Garden, ahead of the launch of a new concept in Soho later this year. The move follows Garvey’s completion of a buy-out of his investors, which sees him take ownership of Sibarita in Covent Garden and Rambla in Soho under the umbrella of the newly incorporated Garvey Restaurant Holdings. Team members including head chef Krisztian Palinkas, operations manager Claudio di Martino and executive assistant Marsida Rexhepaj have been given shares in the new enterprise. Garvey said: “Encant is very special to me as it was my first solo restaurant. It’s still as busy as ever but creatively the team and I feel we’ve taken it as far as we can. Sibarita and Rambla, which are both performing better than I could ever have imagined, opened in quick succession and their menus feature several dishes that originated at Encant. It got to the stage where Encant had effectively become a development kitchen for the others rather than innovating in its own right.” All staff at Encant will be redeployed within the group, while Garvey said offers had been received from unnamed restaurant operators for the site at 16 Maiden Lane. Regarding the new Soho concept, for which a site has been provisionally acquired, Garvey said: “Although all different, Encant, Sibarita and Rambla have a common DNA. I want to take it further and expand what we offer but don’t want to open a fourth restaurant at this stage, just a different one. I decided the best solution was to close Encant and focus on Sibarita and Soho.”

UK’s first vegan pizzeria Purezza seeks investment for further expansion after securing Camden Town site for second restaurant: Brighton-based Purezza, the UK’s first vegan pizzeria, is seeking investment for further expansion after securing its second site, in Camden Town, north London. Stefania Evangelisti and Tim Barclay launched the concept in St James’s Street, Brighton, in 2015. Now it will open its second site next month in Camden Town having acquired the former Market restaurant in Parkway in a deal brokered by agents Fleurets. Purezza has signed a new 20-year lease. Evangelisti said: “A London-based Purezza has always been an ambition of ours. We are delighted to have acquired the Camden site, bringing our pioneering food into the capital.” With aggressive expansion plans, Purezza is seeking investment to grow into further cities around the UK. Fleurets divisional director Andy Frisby said: “This acquisition will not only see the operation expand into the capital but also be of huge benefit to growing the Purezza brand due to the substantial footfall and profile of the area. The restaurant will cater for up to 100 covers across two floors.” The menu will largely mirror the Brighton site’s offering, which provides plant-based versions of classic Italian dishes. The entirely vegan menu includes wholegrain sourdough pizza, pasta, and raw and gluten-free dishes.

Former Caravan head of wholesale to launch coffee shop concept in City of London: Former Caravan head of wholesale James Hennebry is set to launch new concept Rosslyn Coffee in the City of London. Hennebry and co-founder Mat Russell have agreed a new ten-year lease for a 442 square foot ground-floor unit in Queen Victoria Street at a rent of £67,500 per annum. The coffee shop is opposite Mansion House station and occupies a prominent position at the junction of Cannon Street. Oliver Green, a director in the central London retail team at agent Savills, which represented landlord Amsprop Investments, said: “The brand will complement the area’s range of food and beverage operators well.” Hennebry and Russell have both worked in the coffee shop industry in Australia and the UK for many years as members of wholesale teams at roasteries such as Five Senses, Reverence and Caravan and have now decided to go it alone. Locate Retail represented Rosslyn Coffee.

Wagamama to open three UAE restaurants in 2018: Wagamama has revealed plans to expand its presence in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with a new flagship restaurant to open in The Dubai Mall and two more planned for 2018. The Dubai Mall restaurant will open on Wednesday, 31 January, bringing the number of locations across the country to five. It will be the first Wagamama restaurant in the UAE to feature the same interior design as London’s flagship branch in Covent Garden, featuring sleek mirrors and communal tables. Seating 156 guests and spanning more than 4,000 square feet, the restaurant will also feature an outdoor terrace. The opening marks a new chapter in Wagamama’s expansion plans across the UAE and its growing presence in neighbouring Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) countries. Restaurants in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi are also in development for later this year. Wagamama has 180 restaurants across 23 countries worldwide, while the GCC count stands at 11. Elias Madbak, director of operations at RMAL Hospitality, franchise partner for Wagamama in the UAE, told Arabian Business: “The arrival of Wagamama at The Dubai Mall is a significant milestone for the brand as we continue our expansion across the UAE.”

Preto to launch Chelmsford site, first of four openings in 2018: Brazilian rodizio brand Preto is to open a site in Chelmsford with plans to add three further restaurants this year. The company will open a venue at the Meadows Shopping Centre in a unit eyed by Casual Dining Group for its Bella Italia brand before the company withdrew its interest, Essex Live reports. Preto launched its first site in London’s Victoria in 2007 and currently has ten sites in the UK. The concept features all-you-can-eat dining with customers paying a fixed price and using a two-sided disc to control the pace of their meal. The green side indicates to the waiter to serve more meat, while the red side indicates a pause. Lunch and dinner menus feature an unlimited serving of up to 15 different cuts of spit-roasted meat, slow-roasted over an authentic Brazilian barbecue. The meat is then presented on skewers and carved fresh at the table accompanied by salad, rice or pasta.

Stonegate to open 25th Popworld site, in Nuneaton: Stonegate Pub Company is to open a 25th site for its Popworld brand – in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, in March. Since its launch in Southampton in 2014, the company said its pop-themed nightclubs had seen four years of growth in sales, margins and profits. Stonegate added there were “many more” openings in the pipeline, while the brand had seen a 94% return on investment in the past year. The company said a new website had driven pre-booked sales and events tickets, including a 62% increase in New Year’s Eve ticket sales this year, while the Popworld app had attracted 15,000 registered users and gained a 90% NPS atmosphere score. Popworld champions noughties nostalgia, with a soundtrack of party hits from the decade and decadent drinks that include giant sharing cocktail Partini. Head of marketing Alan Armstrong said: “Not only will we celebrate our 25th site this year but we also have lots in store for 2018, including a Popworld festival.” Stonegate operates more than 690 pubs split into two divisions. Earlier this month, the company reported all its formats performed well during the core four-week festive period to 31 December, with total like-for-like sales growth up 5.5%.

Olive Tree Brasserie to open fourth site, in Stockton Heath: Mediterranean restaurant Olive Tree Brasserie is to open its fourth site in March, in Stockton Heath, Cheshire. Owner Dean Wilson said the move was a “natural choice” as part of expansion plans across the north west. The 110-seater restaurant will be designed akin to Olive Tree’s venues in Lytham St Annes, Preston and Chester, with industrial lighting, exposed copper piping and geometric patterned tiles. The new site will also feature live music on Friday nights, a bar, and a private dining room and function space. Olive Tree Brasserie’s menu takes inspiration from the Greek islands, where Wilson sources almost 40% of his stock including halloumi, olive oil and Mastiha liqueur. Dishes include Olive Tree Kota (chicken breast, spinach, saffron, feta and herb rice), and skewered Greek kebabs. Wilson said: “Stockton Heath is somewhere I have been going for a long time – often for special meals. It’s got great energy and, from the research we’ve done, it’s on an upward trajectory in terms of being a great food destination.”

Scandinavian smokehouse Rök to launch third London site featuring new plant-based menu: Scandinavian smokehouse concept Rök is set to open a third site in London, this time in Soho and featuring a new plant-based menu. Rök, which means “smoked” in Swedish, launched its debut site in Shoreditch, expanding to Islington in July 2016 for its second site. The brand is known for its meat and seafood but the Soho site, for which the address has yet to be revealed, will offer a menu focusing on plant-based dishes and a section devoted to fermented and pickled dishes made in its own preservation cellar, Hot Dinners reports. The restaurant will open in mid-2018 with the launch of a new range of healthy probiotic drinks and cultured dairy products. A collaboration with mixologist Matt Whiley, founder of London-based drinks company Talented Mr Fox, will see non-alcoholic and low-alcohol drinks on offer alongside healthy “drinking vinegars”. To focus on the new opening, Rök will end its residency at The Kitchens in Old Spitalfields Market.

Pub Invest Group to transform Liverpool city centre wine bar into gastro-pub: Liverpool-based Pub Invest Group has started work to transform a wine bar in the city centre into a gastro-pub. The company has started converting First National Wine Bar, which is at a former 1920s-built National Bank branch in James Street, into The Old Bank gastro-pub. The opening will create at least 20 jobs. The Old Bank will feature a bespoke main island bar and comfortable drinking and dining booths over two floors. There will also be a smaller mezzanine bar offering cocktails and a draught and bottled selection of local beer and craft ale. The menu will focus on locally sourced ingredients with maritime influences, while major sports events will be screened live. Pub Invest Group spokesman Tony McGee told the Liverpool Echo: “We’re proud and excited to revive the former glory of a stunning listed interior within a smart new city venue. The design nods to the incredible heritage of Liverpool’s rich waterfront and commercial history – and the location is everything.” In November, Pub Invest Group converted its Smokie Mo’s venue in Mathew Street and the adjacent Café Sports Bar, previously owned by Liverpool footballer Jamie Carragher, into a second site for its McCooley’s brand. The company’s website states it operates more than 30 sites across the north west, including about a dozen in Liverpool.

Former Jamie Oliver head of food standards to launch Southsea deli: The former head of food standards at Jamie Oliver’s restaurants is to open a deli in his home town of Southsea, Hampshire. Daniel Nowland, who was responsible for food values, ethics and sourcing at Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group for eight years, will launch The Southsea Deli at the beginning of February. It will be based in the former Jam & Bowler cafe at the junction of Albert Road and Victoria Road South. Nowland told Spotted: “I have been passionate about food since a young age. In my teen years I worked as a chef, pub manager and various other food-related roles, giving me a great variety of experience. My aim is to champion local, seasonal and responsibly produced food.” After finishing a degree in food production, technology and retail at Bournemouth University, Nowland spent a year as a food product developer with Marks & Spencer before being headhunted by Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group.

Soho House reopens Kettner’s offering champagne bar and 33 rooms: Soho House has reopened Kettner’s, the French restaurant in Soho it acquired in 2015, as Kettner’s Townhouse featuring a champagne bar, restaurant and 33-bedroom guesthouse. The restaurant’s menu has been inspired by the 150-year-old building’s history, with many original grade II-listed features retained such as floral plasterwork and heritage mirrors. The champagne bar features an early-deco mosaic tiled floor alongside French glass lights, a walnut bar with marble top, sofas, armchairs and vintage photos. Soho House stated: “The bedrooms have been individually designed and feature original Georgian timber floorboards, antique fireplaces and a mix of new furniture and vintage pieces, including art nouveau chandeliers.”

Hospitality payment app Zapaygo hits £500,000 crowdfunding target for expansion: Zapaygo, a lifestyle and payment app for the sports, concert, leisure and hospitality sectors, has hit its £500,000 fund-raise target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube for expansion. The app allows users to pre-order and pre-pay for food, drinks or goods before arriving at a venue or have them delivered to their table or home. Founder Richard Dilworth is offering a 5% equity stake in the company in return for the investment. So far, 162 investors have pledged £504,750 and the campaign is “overfunding”. The largest investment has been £126,000. The pitch states: “Zapaygo has contracts with listed and large corporate companies to ensure it reaches millions of users and thousands of venues. Of our initial partners, Verteda EPOS has about 750,000 weekly users and NEC Group will promote Zapaygo monthly to 28 million people. Planned revenue streams are processing fees, marketing advertising discounts and rewards, brand placement, and big data. Benefits to businesses include less cash on site, an ability to market to existing customers and Zapaygo users and offer discounts and rewards to encourage repeat visitors, and combining app orders and orders to staff in one payment. Benefits to users include rewards and discounts, using Zapaygo as an approved form of ID verification in venues through Paycasso, linking accounts with other Zapaygo users, and peer-to-peer payments and messaging. Commercial highlights include a key strategic commercial partnership that will deliver global brand awareness and trust, mass user and venue adoption, robust technology, EPOS integration benefits, flexible payment-processing with market-leading providers, revenue opportunities via ads and consumer trend data, and a scalable model capable of replication internationally.”

Hollywood Bowl reopens Birmingham site following £400,000 rebrand: Hollywood Bowl Group, the UK’s largest tenpin bowling operator, has begun its 2018 investment programme with the £400,000 rebrand of a former Bowlplex site in Birmingham. It is the group’s seventh refurbishment in the past six months. The 20-lane centre in Ladywood features plush new furnishings, contemporary American decor and upgraded music and lighting. It also features a Hollywood Diner offering American classics such as gourmet burgers, hotdogs, shakes and desserts, and a bar. The centre’s amusement area has also been upgraded including the introduction of retro games such as Pacman and Space Invaders. Hollywood Bowl Group chief executive Steve Burns said: “The refurbishment and rebranding in Ladywood starts what will be another exciting year for the group, during which we’ll continue to look for new locations, open new centres and invest in our current estate.” Last month, Hollywood Bowl Group signed to open at Intu shopping centres in Nottingham, Essex and Watford, while it will open at a venue in Yeovil in the spring after taking over a site formerly operated by MFA Bowl. In December, Hollywood Bowl Group reported sales up 8.8% to £114m for the year ended 30 September 2017, with like-for-like sales up 3.5%. Group adjusted Ebitda was 13.7% to £33.4m. The company currently operates 58 centres across the UK under the Hollywood Bowl, AMF Bowling and Bowlplex brands.

Beer + Burger starts expansion with second London site, in Dalston: Beer + Burger, which launched in Willesden last year, has opened its second site in London, this time in Dalston. The venue has opened in Kingsland Road on the former site of A Little of What You Fancy restaurant. The concept, which brands itself as being for “beer-lovers and burger junkies”, offers five burgers but the Dalston venue will also exclusively sell the brand’s new vegan burger. The concept offers sides such as chicken wings and deep-fried jalapenos, while there are two desserts – Oreo cheesecake and chocolate Rolos. Beef + Burger also offers 20 rotating taps of craft beer alongside more than 300 bottles and cans.

Douglas Jack – Ten Entertainment Group ‘well placed to generate attractive self-financed growth in earnings and dividends’: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has said Ten Entertainment Group is “well placed to generate attractive self-financed growth in earnings and dividends”. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of 325p following the company’s full-year results, Jack said: “Like-for-like sales rose by 3.6%, split 0.4% in the first half and 7% in the second half, despite the negative impact of snow in early December. We believe without the closed Chelmsford site, like-for-like sales would have been 4.0%, split 3% footfall and 1% spend per head. We estimate Ebitda margins rose by 50 basis points to 26.6% driven by strong like-for-like sales and bowling increasing its share of the sales mix. The company is also benefiting from labour costs having a relatively low share of the cost base, refurbishments and new innovations such as Pins On Strings. The company added two sites net (three openings less the Chelmsford closure) in 2017E. We forecast the company opening two sites per annum in 2018E and 2019E, in comparison with which ‘good progress was made during the year to strengthen the pipeline of new sites’, supporting guidance of two to four new sites per annum. Typically, this expansion drives an average return on investment of circa 27%. Six sites have now benefited from the Pins On Strings roll-out. According to management, there are early signs these are delivering in line with management’s expectations. Given this, a conversion rate of ten per annum from 2018E and our forecasts assuming a 12% return (versus management’s original 50% target), this could create attractive forecast upside. Like-for-like sales have averaged 5.7% over the past four years, helped by refurbishments, new product and technology. In 2018E, we forecast 3.3% like-for-like sales growth, which we believe Ten Entertainment Group should exceed in the first-half 2018E aided by very easy comparables (due to warm, dry weather). We are holding our forecasts but expect consensus Ebitda to rise. In our view, this update should provide confidence the company is well placed to generate attractive self-financed growth in earnings and dividends, with scope for upgrades over the medium term, operating in a sub-sector with limited supply-side risk.”

North east-based craft beer brewer bids to launch debut bar in Durham city centre: Craft beer brewer Steam Machine, based in Newton Aycliffe, has submitted plans to open its debut bar, in Durham city centre, following a pop-up enterprise last year. The company has applied for a licence for premises in New Elvet with plans for a “quirky craft beer bar and bottleshop”. Steam Machine is run by husband-and-wife team Nick and Gulen Smith and started life on Aycliffe Business Park, The Northern Echo reports. Last year, the company had a three-month residency at a premises off Framwellgate Bridge and now wants a permanent base in the city. The application to Durham County Council is to open between noon and midnight daily, with an extension to 12.45am on bank holidays.

BrewDog signs Lone Wolf distribution deal with Global Brands: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has signed a UK distribution deal with Global Brands for its Lone Wolf gin, vodka, and canned gin and tonic drinks to increase their availability in bars and restaurants. The partnership is expected to increase Lone Wolf sales by £40m during the next two years, with a target of 100,000 extra cases. Global Brands will also distribute BrewDog’s whiskey, Uncle Duke’s, across the UK on-trade, off-trade and international markets. BrewDog chose Global Brands following a competitive three-way tender. Lone Wolf Spirits managing director Doug Bairner said: “We chose Global Brands for the quality of its Franklin & Sons business, the innovative ideas it came forward with in the pitch process, and the knowledge and enthusiasm of its people.” Global Brands founder and chairman Steve Perez added: “The UK’s demand for premium-quality spirits and serves continues to rise. We know Lone Wolf will be a massive success in the premium end of the on-trade.” BrewDog launched Lone Wolf distillery in April 2017 at its brewery in Ellon, Aberdeenshire. Its products are already available in Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s.

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