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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 1st Feb 2018 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Sector will overpay business rates by £10bn by 2025 without taxation overhaul, warns ALMR: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has warned that without government action to overhaul business taxation, the hospitality sector will overpay business rates by £10bn by 2025. In its submission to the government’s consultation on corporate tax and the digital economy, the ALMR has called for a radical rethink of business taxation and the establishment of a system that is more equitable and does not unreasonably favour digital businesses. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The influential treasury select committee rightly pointed out business rates damage the competitiveness of shops on the high street relative to large out-of-town distributors and online retailers. This is an issue we raised with the committee and senior MPs back our stance on this issue and understand this taxation imbalance between high street businesses compared with those based online or in retail parks needs to be addressed otherwise high streets will be forced to fight an uphill battle against a system that is rigged against them. The government’s openness to suggestions on the system is welcome, but unless it pushes ahead with fundamental change across the entire system high-street businesses, particularly hospitality businesses, will continue to face crippling and unreasonable rates bills. The current system is archaic, completely unfit for purpose and sees hospitality businesses shouldering the burden as high streets are slowly strangled. The government needs to act on its manifesto promise of root-and-branch reform otherwise businesses will be waiting until 2025 before they see any change, by which time it will be too late for many.”

Industry News:

Propel and Thinking Drinkers launch fourth Craft Beer Retail Study Tour: Propel is staging its fourth Craft Beer Retail Study Tour on Thursday, 22 March in London, this time exploring the burgeoning beer scene in Bermondsey and Brixton. The tour, led by The Thinking Drinkers, award-winning beer writers Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham, will visit eight venues during the day-long tour including leading craft beer retailers, a cider specialist and a street food market that features its own brewery. McFarland and Sandham will provide the latest craft beer facts and figures, market segmentation analysis, and spot up-and-coming trends while CGA commercial director Graeme Loudon will provide further insights. Site visits will include question-and-answer sessions with some of London’s leading retailers looking at award-winning sites, beer-centric retail, beer sourcing, direct sourcing, menus, brewing on-site, and a host of other issues. The day includes travel between venues by coach where appropriate. Tickets are £345 plus VAT for Propel Premium members and £395 plus VAT for non-Propel Premium members. To book, email 

Propel Multi Club Conference open for bookings, Ian Edward 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. Ian Edward, who is leisure advisor to Canaccord Genuity and sits on the boards of Brasserie Blanc, Seafood Pub Company and Hippo Inns, will set out his views on mergers and acquisitions trends and the ten key challenges and opportunities in the sector. Multi-site operators of pubs, restaurants and foodservice outlets can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele at

Sick pay policies can make ‘huge difference’ in attracting best talent: Sick pay policies, especially for long-tenure workers, can make a huge difference in terms of attracting the best talent in the hospitality sector, according to recruitment company The Change Group. A survey by the company found a wide spread of sick pay policies among hospitality employers. Even though almost three-quarters (72%) of respondents had been with their current employer for more than one year, one-third said they were ineligible for sick pay. Of those entitled to sick pay, one-third received time off with full pay while almost one-third (29%) were only paid statutory sick pay. However, the survey found hospitality workers are more likely to go into work than stay at home when ill. More than one-third (37%) hadn’t taken a day off sick in the previous year, while another 40% had only taken off one or two days. Almost two-thirds (65%) had gone into work while ill. When asked why they went into work when feeling unwell, almost 9% said taking time off was frowned on by their employer, while a similar number said they did so to avoid being sacked. Meanwhile, 16% said they battled into work to ensure they were paid, and more than one-quarter (28%) said there was no-one to cover their role. However, the majority cited positive reasons for battling on, including “to support my fellow workers” (52%), “because I love my job” (29%), and “because I’d rather work than be at home” (40%). The Change Group founder and director Craig Allen said: “We recommend employers think carefully about their sick pay policies, especially for long-tenure workers, as this can be seen as an important benefit. Even though the research shows most hospitality employees don’t take much time off sick, these benefits can make a huge difference in terms of attracting the best talent.”

BBPA calls for extension of Youth Mobility Scheme to cover more EU countries: The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has called for an extension of the Youth Mobility Scheme, which allows young people to live, work and travel in the UK for up to two years. Currently it is only open to countries that have a reciprocal agreement with the UK, mainly Commonwealth nations. The BBPA has backed a proposal by think-tank Policy Exchange to extend the scheme to cover more EU countries or for an agreement with the EU itself. According to a recent survey of BBPA members, almost half (46%) of pub employees are under 25, with 17% from overseas. That figure rises to 40% in cities and can reach 80% in roles such as kitchen staff. The BBPA is also calling for changes to the “Tier” immigration system, including simplification of the visa system, a review of the requirement for non-UK workers to have a contract of employment before they travel to the UK, and a reduction in costs for businesses looking to recruit non-UK workers. BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “For the beer and pub sector to succeed post-Brexit, the immigration system, particularly for young people, needs a comprehensive review. More than 80% of UK pubs are small businesses, it is vitally important they have access to the skills they need without the burdensome nature of the current visa system. The BBPA and our members are working hard to attract UK nationals to work with us, but an extension of the Youth Mobility Scheme and revision of the ‘Tier’ system would be hugely beneficial.”

Team behind Craft Beer Festivals launches competition for up-and-coming brewers: Up-and-coming brewers are being given the chance to showcase their beers to 17,000 people across the country. Craft Beer Festivals organisers and We Are Beer founders Greg Wells and Dan Sylvester have launched Raise The Bar, an initiative that aims to champion new-to-market brewers. An expert panel will blind-taste all submissions before selecting the top four brewers to showcase at all three Craft Beer Festivals – in London, Edinburgh and Bristol. The Edinburgh festival will take place from 25 to 27 May at the Biscuit Factory in Leith, while the London event will be held from 3 to 5 August at Tobacco Dock in London’s Docklands. Details of the Bristol event have yet to be confirmed. Wells said: “In our continued quest to champion incredible up-and-coming talent, we are excited about the potential for our Raise The Bar competition to give young, new brewers a platform to showcase their beer on a UK stage.”

Entry deadline extended for SIBA Business Awards 2018: The entry deadline for the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) Business Awards 2018 has been extended. The awards, which were due to close for entries on Wednesday (31 January), will now be open until Friday, 16 February. The awards reward excellence in the brewing industry across a variety of categories, ranging from pump clip, can and bottle design to efforts taken by brewers to make their business more eco-friendly, innovative or successful. There are also categories for bars, restaurants, retailers and companies that promote independent craft beer in the UK. The awards ceremony will take place at 6pm on Wednesday, 14 March – the first day of BeerX UK 2018 – at its new home at the Exhibition Centre Liverpool. The SIBA Business Awards are free to enter and judged by a panel of independent industry experts.

Company News:

Boxpark makes key appointments ahead of roll-out: Boxpark, which has sites in Croydon and Shoreditch, has hired Simon Champion as chief financial officer and Ben McLaughlin as operations manager. The appointments come ahead of Boxpark’s largest site opening, in Wembley later this year. Champion joins Boxpark from premium popcorn brand Propercorn, where he oversaw the company’s first major equity raise. He also headed up an equity research team at Deutsche Bank prior to leading Easyhotel through a refinancing and initial public offering, where he reported directly to chairman Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou. McLaughlin previously worked at Stonegate Pub Company and Intertain. “I’m delighted Simon and Ben have joined the Boxpark team,” said Boxpark chief executive and founder Roger Wade. “Simon has a strong chief financial officer background having worked at Deutsche Bank, Easyhotel and Propercorn and will oversee the fund-raise for future Boxpark expansion. Ben is a proven operations manager. He will be responsible for the entire operations of our trading and property business. Both will be valuable additions to the company and allow us to focus on the future Boxpark roll-out.” Champion said: “I’m delighted to join Boxpark given its proven track record of success. I see substantial potential for future Boxparks and look forward to exciting times ahead for a great brand.” 

TRG Concessions takes over JD Wetherspoon pub at Aberdeen airport: The Restaurant Group (TRG) Concessions has opened its fifth catering outlet in Aberdeen International Airport and has become its exclusive catering partner. TRG Concessions has worked with the airport since 2009 to develop and operate catering concessions and employs a team of 60 on-site at the summer peak. The Granite City pub has been taken over by TRG Concessions as part of a long-term investment programme at the airport that will see more than £2m spent refurbishing and developing the food and beverage offers over the next 18 months. The pub was previously operated by JD Wetherspoon. The Granite City is located before security control and is named after an affectionate term for Aberdeen. The pub will retain its name but undergo a refurbishment and menu refresh in the coming months. Nick Ayerst, managing director of TRG Concessions, said: “The Granite City is the perfect addition to our portfolio and our refurbishment will enhance the mix of catering available for passengers at Aberdeen International Airport. We look forward to welcoming our new team members into the business and investing in them and the site over the coming months. Being the only caterer on-site brings with it a greater responsibility to the airport and all its passengers. Our expanded team will work closely with the airport team to meet that challenge in the same way we have collaborated to overcome other challenges since 2009.”

Marston’s to invest £8m in Burton brewery, jobs at risk at Bedford site: Marston’s is to invest £8m in new canning and bottling lines at its brewery in Burton-on-Trent. The company stated: “As a result of this, the company is entering into a consultation period with approximately 35 to 45 employees at the Eagle Brewery in Bedford, where a similar production function is situated. Those people affected by this have been notified.” Marston’s acquired Charles Wells’ brewery in Bedford and brand sales interests for a cash consideration of £55m plus working capital adjustments in May last year. Marston’s recently relaunched the facility as Eagle Brewery.

Germany-based Italian-American fast food concept Tellys TST lodges plans for first UK site, in Sutton: Germany-based Italian-American fast food concept Tellys TST has lodged plans for its first UK site. The company, which operates restaurants in three German cities, is looking to make its UK debut in Sutton, Surrey. Tellys TST, through RLC Food, has applied to Sutton Council to convert a site in High Street. The application states: “Tellys TST wants to be on every high street in years to come but the picture on the wall will say first opened in Sutton 2018 – we hope.” Tellys TST serves Italian-American-influenced pasta with natural ingredients. Aside from “premium pasta”, it also offers salads, soup and coffee. Its menu has been designed by German chef and author Christian Rach, who received his first Michelin star in 1991. The application states the restaurant would be open from 7am to 7pm, reports Your Local Guardian.

Tonkotsu to open seventh London site, at Battersea Power Station development: London-based ramen specialist Tonkotsu is to open its seventh London site – and eighth in total – at the new Battersea Power Station development. Founders Ken Yamada and Emma Reynolds will open the venue at Arch 755 on Monday, 19 February. It will have seating for 26 inside and a further 26 outside on the terrace, as well as having takeaway and delivery options, reports Hot Dinners. Tonkotsu, which is named after a creamy ramen typical in Kyushu, Japan’s southern-most island, has standalone sites in the capital in Mare Street, Soho, Dunston Street, Bankside, and Notting Hill. It also has concessions at Selfridges stores in Oxford Street in London and The Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham.

Chef Bryn Williams to open first central London restaurant: Chef Bryn Williams is to open his first central London restaurant, in Somerset House. Bryn Williams At Somerset House will “celebrate modern British dining and the very best of Welsh produce, with fruit and vegetables taking centre stage”. The restaurant will open this spring in the south wing of the arts and cultural centre in the Strand. The menu will feature small plates, seasonal mains and dishes “from the grill”. In a continuation of the veg-centric theme, a range of salads will also be on offer alongside “fruit-heavy” desserts. The decor will unite the building’s naval history and Georgian architecture with Williams’ Welsh roots. The space will also house a draught beer bar, the only one in Somerset House. Williams said: “I’m a firm believer that a piece of fruit or veg should be treated with the same amount of care and respect as a cut of meat or fillet of fish – if not more. I’m thrilled to be opening a new restaurant that is not only in a stunning location but where fresh, locally sourced produce is the focus, and fruit and veg take centre stage.” Williams is chef patron of Odette’s in Primrose Hill and Bryn Williams At Porth Eirias in Colwyn Bay, North Wales. He is also set to open a restaurant at Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium in north London. Before going it alone, Williams worked under Marco Pierre White and Michel Roux, and appeared on the BBC’s Great British Menu programme.

Dirty Martini reveals further details of Birmingham city centre opening: Cocktail bar group Dirty Martini, which is owned by CG Restaurants & Bars, has revealed more details of the venue it will open in Birmingham city centre this spring. The bar will open in Bennetts Hill in April following the £1m refurbishment of a grade II-listed former banking hall that previously housed Viva Brazil. Dirty Martini Birmingham will have a capacity of 330 split over two floors, plus an upper mezzanine for up to 20 people and a variety of large booths, banquettes and spaces for private parties. On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays the bar will be open until 2.30am, with DJs at weekends. CG Restaurants & Bars chief executive Scott Matthews told the Birmingham Mail: “Birmingham city centre is going through a time of exciting development and growth. We’re looking forward to opening our doors in Bennetts Hill.” Dirty Martini operates seven sites in London, with others in Cardiff, Leeds and Manchester. CG Restaurants & Bars reported Dirty Martini produced a 10.8% uplift in like-for-like sales in December, with sales at its new sites in Manchester and Leeds “exceptionally strong”, achieving a 28% uplift on budget.

Former Callooh Callay pair to launch ‘social club’ cocktail bar in east London, plan further UK venues: Simon Thompson and Jake O’Brien Murphy, who previously worked together at cocktail bar Callooh Callay, are to launch Horatio Street Social Club in east London with plans for further sites across the UK later this year. The first “social club” cocktail bar will open on Thursday, 15 February in the basement of The Nelson’s Head in Horatio Street. Horatio Street Social Club will be an “intimate space” where guests can sit on stools at the bar or at one of the low-slung tables. There will be low lighting, artwork on the walls and a playlist of “eclectic, upbeat tunes”. A menu of house cocktails such as Naïve Melody, which consists of Campari, white wine and kola nut cordial, will change regularly. They will sit alongside classic cocktails, beer and wine. The look of the physical menu will change monthly, with new artwork inspired by a randomly picked theme.

Vapiano opens Glasgow restaurant for second site in Scotland: Vapiano has opened a site in Glasgow for its second venue in Scotland, creating 55 jobs. The company has opened the venue in Buchanan Street on the site of the former George Hotel having previously taken a 25-year lease. The 293-capacity restaurant has long oak tables that feature their own herb garden, where guests can pick fresh herbs to garnish their dishes, while the two-floor premises also includes a bar. There is also a nod to Turin, which is twinned with Glasgow, via a wall-length art installation that details the Italian city’s skyline. Managing director Phil Sermon said: “When we were looking at locations for restaurants, Glasgow looked ideal. Its vibrant social scene provides the perfect backdrop for Vapiano.” The company has developed a portfolio of 205 restaurants in 35 countries across five continents. The Glasgow venue is its fifth in the UK, with two outlets in London and one each in Manchester and Edinburgh.

Venezuelan street food trader Petare to open first permanent site, in Pop Brixton: Venezuelan street food trader Petare is to open its first permanent site, in Pop Brixton. The concept will open in the unit recently vacated by Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen on Friday, 16 February offering a short menu focused on arepas (Venezuelan corn bread stuffed with meat, vegetarian and vegan fillings), including a masa-fried chicken arepa and a Venezuelan chip butty. The family-run business was launched in 2014 with the aim of bringing authentic Venezuelan street food to a London audience. Having run pop-ups at Street Feast and Kerb, Pop Brixton will be the first permanent space for Petare. Co-founder Rotsen Ibarra said: “We are incredibly grateful to Pop Brixton for giving us the opportunity to launch our first full-time venture. Having received positive feedback from Londoners at events across the city, we’re looking forward to bringing our Venezuelan food to a new audience in Brixton.” 

Bath Ales strengthens team as new brewery nears completion: Bath Ales, which is owned by Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery, has strengthened its team as its new multimillion-pound brewery nears completion. The Hare Brewery, which is being built at Bath Ales’ headquarters in Warmley, is now close to commission with a “first brew” date set for Wednesday, 14 March. The project, which is on track to open in mid-May, will double the company’s brewing capacity. The four-vessel brewhouse will have capacity to produce more than 50,000 brewers’ barrels of beer. Meanwhile, Roger Ryman, who oversees brewing and production at Bath Ales and St Austell Brewery, has strengthened the company’s core brewing and beer quality team. Bath Ales brewer Gerry Condell, who has been with the company for more than 15 years, has been appointed to the newly created role of trade quality brewer. Mick Stawniczy, meanwhile, has transferred from St Austell to become Bath Ales’ site operations manager and will head up production at the new brewery. 

Filmore & Union partners with Trail as it looks to streamline systems: Healthy eating cafe and restaurant company Filmore & Union has partnered with operations management app Trail as it streamlines its systems. The agreement sees Filmore & Union introduce Trail’s checklist platform to all its 15 sites as the business looks to increase efficiency across its growing estate and free team members’ time to focus on customers. Trail’s platform, which can be integrated with EPOS, rotas and other digital systems, gives a step-by-step list of daily tasks to help operators maintain standards and best practice across multiple sites. Filmore & Union operations manager Laura Peaden said: “Our team members have really embraced the technology as it’s easy to use and fundamentally makes their lives easier, giving them more time to focus on creating exceptional customer experiences.” Trail co-founder and managing director Joe Cripps added: “The industry is facing a series of headwinds and will increasingly look to technology to understand how it can help. Regardless of what happens with Brexit, the churn rate of workers within the industry as well as health and safety compliance will be two issues that will continue to be front and centre for operators. We’re looking forward to helping businesses tackle this in 2018.” Trail’s other customers include Ei Group, Deliveroo, Bill’s and New World Trading Company.

Ivy Collection opens Blackheath cafe: The Ivy Collection, owned by Caprice Holdings, has opened a site in Blackheath, south east London. The 87-cover Ivy Cafe has launched in Montpelier Vale featuring a 20-cover Parisian-style terrace overlooking Greenwich Park, Hot Dinners reports. Ivy Cafes offer contemporary British food and afternoon tea. Last month, The Ivy Collection opened brasseries in Cheltenham, York and King’s Cross, with further openings lined up this year in Birmingham, Brighton, Cambridge, Dublin, Guildford, Leeds and Winchester. The other Ivy Cafes are in Marylebone, Richmond, St John’s Wood and Wimbledon. Earlier this week, Ivy Collection acquired a Brasserie Blanc site in St Albans.

Kained Holdings to turn Glasgow bar Drugstore Social into events space: Glasgow-based operator Kained Holdings has closed its Drugstore Social bar to launch a private events space in its place. The Yorkhill venue was known for its health-conscious menu and herbal cocktails, as well as regular pop-up events. Kained Holdings said it plans to turn the building into a private hire space for events, meetings and team-building activities, reports Glasgow Live. A post on the bar’s Facebook page states: “Drugstore Social is pleased to announce it is closing to transform into a wonderful social events space available for exclusive private hire, meetings and team-building events.” Drugstore Social staff will be redeployed to some of the company’s other eight sites in the city.

Birmingham-based dessert parlour Jam Jar opens second site, in Coventry: Birmingham-based dessert parlour Jam Jar has opened its second site, in Coventry. The company has opened a 150-cover site in Corporation Street that also includes a secluded “hideaway” area for groups of about ten as well as outside seating. Jam Jar offers a selection of handcrafted waffles, crepes, sundaes and “back to school” favourites such as apple crumble, sticky toffee pudding and jam roly poly. As well as a range of tea and coffee, the restaurant also offers shakes served in glass jars and fruity mocktails. Manager Maj Khan told the Coventry Telegraph: “We think Jam Jar is a different brand compared with other dessert parlours.”

City District Group to open fourth Fazenda site and first in Scotland: City District Group is to open a fourth site – and first in Scotland – for its Brazilian rodizio restaurant brand Fazenda. Founders Robert Melman and Tomas Maunier will open the venue in George Street, Edinburgh, on Friday, 23 February. The restaurant will accommodate 175, with seating for 40 at the bar and a private dining room for eight. It will feature Brazilian touches throughout, including leather upholstery and traditional-style chandeliers. Guests will have grilled meat carved at the table accompanied by salad, sushi, smoked salmon and freshly cut vegetables. The wine list will focus on South America. Maunier told the Edinburgh Reporter: “Fazenda is inspired by the kind of restaurant you find in the top areas of São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro. The experience is so versatile it allows everybody to enjoy it in their own way.” City District Group’s other Fazenda restaurants are in Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool, while it operates sister brand Picanha in Chester.

Nando’s and Five Guys to open at County Armagh shopping centre: Nando’s and better burger brand Five Guys have agreed deals to open sites at the Rushmere Shopping Centre in County Amargh, Northern Ireland. New units with a combined space of more than 7,000 square feet are being developed to accommodate the two restaurants before they open in the third quarter of this year. Nando’s, which currently has five outlets in Northern Ireland, is creating 40 jobs while Five Guys said it expected to employ 60 people. Five Guys vice-president for Ireland David Malanaphy told Armaghi: “We are delighted to be adding Rushmere to our expansion plans. Five Guys is one of America’s fastest-growing restaurant chains and has almost 1,500 stores worldwide, with another 1,500 in development.” Savills acted on behalf of Rushmere owner Central Craigavon while Lambert Smith Hampton represented Nando’s and Five Guys.

Michelin-starred hotel and restaurant in Derbyshire to launch wine room: Michelin-starred hotel and restaurant Fischer’s at Baslow Hall, which is in Bakewell, Derbyshire, is to launch a wine room. The room, designed and built by architect Bluecarrot, will open in early March featuring a temperature-controlled “wine wall”. The decor will also include traditional Georgian wall panelling finished in blue teal. Owner Max Fischer told Insider Media: “I have always loved good wine but it was only when I met the late John Wynne, of the Epworth Tap, about 35 years ago that I really began to develop my wine pallet. John’s knowledge of wine and his wine bar were famous in the north and further afield. John introduced me to many new aromas and flavours and helped me appreciate the subtle qualities of wine. I have been learning ever since and still feel I know little, but my passion for learning and discovering is as fresh as ever and I love to share that with others.”

West Sussex-based hospitality business signs £2.2m land deal for expansion: A family-run hospitality business near Chichester, West Sussex, has acquired 30 acres of land in a £2.2m deal that will aid further expansion. Crouchers Restaurant, Bar and Country Hotel in Birdham Road is run by Lloyd van Rooyen, Gavin Wilson and family, whose parents started the business with a six-room bed and breakfast in 1996. Now a 26-bedroom hotel and 80-cover restaurant employing 45 staff, the company plans to expand Crouchers following the land purchase from a neighbouring farm. Capitalising on the site’s countryside location on the Chichester Canal, close to the marina and some of the county’s best beaches, the plans include completing four luxury holiday cottages due to open in May, refurbishing informal cafe restaurant The Cider House, and establishing new kitchen gardens that will supply the hotel and restaurants. Jamie Ward, senior relationship manager at Allied Irish Bank (GB), which backed the deal, told Insider Media: “Lloyd’s family and their management team have built a fantastic business at Crouchers and gained a well-deserved reputation for top-quality service and hospitality. The acquisition of this neighbouring parcel of land provides the business with enormous potential for growth.” Van Rooyen added: “We’re embarking on a new chapter for Crouchers and we’re very excited about the future.”

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