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Thu 21st Jun 2018 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Voice-based ordering and food-tracking devices will be next big thing to influence delivery market: Voice-based ordering and food-tracking devices are set to be the next big thing to influence the UK’s fast-growing delivery market, according to the latest Go Technology report from hospitality management solutions company Zonal Retail Data Systems and insights firm CGA. The report found one-third (33%) of consumers want to know the exact delivery time as soon as they hit the order button. Likewise, with artificial intelligence becoming an integral part of home life through devices such as Siri and Alexa, the report said voice-based ordering was also likely to take off, with more than one-fifth (22%) of consumers thinking it will become more common. The report revealed more than one-quarter (28%) of British consumers are ordering more food deliveries than they did a year ago, with more than 27 million orders taken in the past six months, half of them made by millennials. A total of 44% of consumers use online channels to order delivery, while two-fifths (40%) believe more restaurants will start to offer delivery direct from their own websites, which are seen as the best source of information on deliveries. In comparison, only 29% predict a growth in third-party mobile delivery apps. A total of 39% said they would order more food for delivery if improvements were made to speed of service and the quality of food delivered. More than two-fifths (43%) said they would like to see faster delivery, which puts it at the top of their wish-list for improvements, followed by better food temperature (36%) and price (34%). Zonal sales and marketing director Clive Consterdine said: “Technology is changing the way we conduct our lives and the traditional way of doing things has gone out the window. Restaurant brands need to move with the times if they are to stay relevant and popular to demanding consumers as it seems that, for many, loyalty is being replaced with convenience. As this report makes clear, food delivery is here to stay and it is set to rise in popularity even further. Karl Chessell, CGA business unit director, retail and food, added: “Building a great service enhances brand equity and offering home delivery can open up a whole new customer base away from the high street. However, poor operational execution will see customers go elsewhere and damage the hard-earned brand reputation across all channels.”

Industry News:

Sector investor Luke Johnson talks to Propel’s Paul Charity in next video for premium subscribers: Sector investor Luke Johnson is interviewed by Propel managing director Paul Charity in our next 30-minute video for Propel Premium subscribers, sent out this Friday (22 June). Johnson talks about Company Voluntary Arrangements, the sale of Draft House, his current views on the economy, US versus UK foodservice, the dangers of rolling out sites too fast, and a host of other subjects. Premium subscribers now receive regular video recordings of key speakers from Propel events and conferences. Propel Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out, and have access to our database of 1,100 multi-site companies. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “We plan to compile an invaluable library of senior leaders and advisors offering insights and advice, a resource Premium readers can tap into.” An annual premium subscription costs £345 plus VAT for operators and £445 plus VAT for suppliers – plus £50 each for additional team members. Email anne.steele@propelinfo.com to sign up or call her on 01444 817691

Herbal, fruit and green teas refresh out-of-home tea market as category grows to £283m: Herbal, fruit and green teas have brewed new life into the out-of-home tea market, according to the latest Project Tea Out-of-Home UK report by Allegra World Coffee Portal. Those operators moving beyond the basic tea offer and providing a better-value proposition are “gaining traction with consumers”, the report stated. Out-of-home tea consumption remained healthy in 2017, with total sales of £283m compared with £256m in 2016. Allegra forecast tea sales of £313m for 2018, a 10.3% year-on-year increase amid continued growth during the next five years, with total sector value expected to reach £439m by 2022. There was significant growth last year in the sales of fruit, herbal and green teas, with more than half (58%) of operators adding more speciality teas to their menu in the past three years. Health-focused products such as matcha and kombucha and a burgeoning “functional tea segment” represent significant opportunities for operators, the report stated. However, reversing negative consumer perceptions remains a significant challenge, with fewer than one-third (29%) of consumers believing the sector represents good value for money. High-street coffee chains are the most popular sites for regular tea drinking, ahead of department stores, independent cafes and workplaces. Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee was the most popular branded chain for tea-drinkers, with 10% making their last purchase there. Operators should offer more premium products, Allegra said, with loose-leaf items helping to increase profit margins. More than 90% of operators who refreshed their tea offering in the past three years had experienced increased sales, the report stated, indicating menu diversification was key. Allegra forecast the tea out-of-home market would continue to be defined by increasing consumer demand for product innovation and variation. Research manager Bradley Journeaux said: “Speciality teas that tap into current premiumisation and wellness trends are providing a significant boost to out-of-home tea sales, with matcha, kombucha and other functional teas at the forefront. Those operators moving beyond the basic tea offer and providing a better-value proposition are gaining traction with consumers.” Two-thirds (67%) of industry leaders expect a positive sales performance in the next 12 months, with tea continuing to perform well as an alternative to alcohol, especially varieties that promote health benefits.

UKHospitality – new ‘settled status’ immigration scheme must avoid ‘unnecessary bureaucracy’ or risk significant impact on sector: UKHospitality has reiterated the new “settled status” immigration scheme for EU nationals needs to be straightforward and warned “unnecessary bureaucracy” would have a significant impact on the sector. As the government prepares to announce details of the process, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The hospitality sector employs more than 10% of the total number of EU workers currently living in the UK. They are a vital part of the labour market for the vast majority of employers in the sector, offering skills that enhance individual businesses and providing a great customer experience across a huge diversity of businesses. Any new registration system must have simplicity at its heart. The process to secure settled status needs to be straightforward, and the mechanism for businesses to ensure employees are legally permitted to work as streamlined as possible. Any unnecessary bureaucracy will lead to increased stress on existing staff, a slowdown in business growth and investment, and rising costs for customers. Businesses across the country already face a severe shortage of workers so it’s imperative this system and any post-Brexit immigration policy works for the hospitality sector to supplement the millions of UK nationals it employs.”

St Peter’s Brewery goes ‘football free’ at London pub: Suffolk-based St Peter’s Brewery has turned its London pub into a football-free zone during the Fifa World Cup. Many pubs will pull out all the stops to entice football-related trade during the month-long tournament. However, The Jerusalem Tavern in Clerkenwell has banned all coverage. General manager Daniel Lucas said: “The World Cup isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. We want to give punters the chance to get away from football craziness and relax. I’ve worked for pub companies that invested thousands in new TVs in previous years only for everyone to lose interest as soon as England were eliminated.” Lucus said the pub’s footfall had remained strong during the World Cup’s first week.

National Licensing Week returns: The Institute of Licensing (IoL) is holding its third National Licensing Week. The event provides a platform for licensing practitioners to “get involved and celebrate the role of licensing in everyday lives”. National Licensing Week celebrates all “players in the field”, including councils and police. Awareness is being raised this week through job swaps and by recognising schemes such as Pub Watch, Business Improvement Districts and Best Bar None. Daniel Davies, IoL chairman and chief executive of CPL Training Group, said: “National Licensing Week is one of the industry’s flagship campaigns – a rare opportunity to highlight the importance of licensing in today’s society. Despite its role in everyday life, licensing often goes unnoticed. The aim of this campaign is to change that perception.”

Company News:

Pod to launch £200,000 mini-bond as it plans 11 new sites: London-based healthy eating brand Pod is set to launch a £200,000 fund-raise on peer-to-peer lending platform Code Investing as it plans 11 new sites during the next three years, Propel has learned. The company will offer a mini-bond that will pay 8.5% annual (gross) interest rolled up and paid as a single lump sum on the maturity date after two years. Pod, which has 24 sites in central London, said it had created a solid base for expansion and was issuing the mini-bond to support organic growth, enhance the existing estate and open new sites that adhered to a “demanding new site-opening model”. The pitch states: “Pod is planning 11 further openings over the next three years. Its delivery business is currently growing at circa 27% per annum and sales growth was 11% in the last quarter of 2017. The fourth quarter of 2017’s sales figures meant the best fourth-quarter performance in Pod’s history. Pod has also achieved positive store Ebitda for every month in 2018 and corporate Ebitda of £86,700 for the first quarter of 2018. Pod believes it has the ability to outperform the market, with an ‘on-trend’ healthy menu, high-footfall locations, and an experienced management team and strong central support function.”

St Austell Brewery plans acquisitions after securing £15m funding package: Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery is planning to expand its estate after receiving a £15m revolving credit facility from HSBC. The funding will allow the company to increase investment over the next few years as it looks at new pub and hotel acquisitions. Finance director and company secretary Colin Stratton told Insider Media: “We are always looking at ways to grow and improve our estate, which includes some of the most well-known and best-loved pubs, inns and hotels in the south west. We have a carefully considered acquisition strategy so were impressed when HSBC took a similarly strategic approach to our funding requirements. We look forward to drawing on the funding when the right opportunities arise.” James Jordan, HSBC’s head of corporate banking in the south west, added: “HSBC is committed to helping local businesses realise their growth ambitions and we look forward to helping the company pursue its acquisition plans.”

Wagamama flies into Norway as it continues international expansion: Wagamama has made its Norway debut, at Oslo airport, as the company continues international expansion. The move is the result of a partnership with HMSHost-Umoe, which operates food and beverage outlets across airports in the Norwegian market. The opening brings Wagamama’s international territory portfolio to 25 countries. The 210-cover restaurant is in the airport’s arrivals concourse. As well as its usual dishes, the restaurant offers a selection of breakfast items until midday as well as a specific menu of vegan dishes, which is a first for the airport’s food and beverage offer. Wagamama international managing director Brian Johnston said: “We are excited to be launching our first restaurant in Norway and look forward to bringing our fresh, Japanese-inspired cuisine to new diners in Oslo airport. The opening also marks the start of a new form of dining at the airport and we believe travellers will embrace our positive-eating philosophy, which complements our partners’ ethos of ‘feeling good on the move’.” Earlier this month Wagamama, which is owned by Duke Street and Hutton Collins, appointed advisors as it looks for new owners to support its global expansion plans.

Charles Wells’ managed division Apostrophe Pubs reports narrowed losses: Apostrophe Pubs, the managed division of Bedford-based brewer and retailer Charles Wells, has reported narrowed losses. The company saw turnover fall slightly to £3,508,000 for the year ending 30 September 2017, compared with £3,546,000 the year before. Pre-tax losses fell to £252,000 compared with £377,000 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Gross profit margin increased to 71.2%, compared with 70% the year before. Shareholders’ deficit of the company increased to £740,000, compared with £488,000 the previous year. The division was reformed in February 2014 and now consists of four sites – d’Parys in Bedford, Merlin’s Cave in Chalfont St Giles, Cox’s Yard in Stratford-upon-Avon and the Bull in Olney. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “As a result of the high start-up costs incurred during the roll-out of new sites, including establishing the Apostrophe concept and the pre-opening costs of the sites, the company has reported a loss for the year, after taxation, amounting to £252,000 (2016: £300,000 loss). The directors expect the company to trade profitably going forward and will look to identify further opportunities to add additional managed pub sites to the existing estate.” In October, Charles Wells took a stake in Little Gems Country Dining, run by Steve Wilkins and Rachel Slater, forming a joint venture to run a combination of the Little Gems and Charles Wells’ Apostrophe Pubs. At the time, Charles Wells chief executive Justin Phillimore told Propel: “We have been looking to develop a few more Apostrophe sites but what we had was relatively sub-scale. We’ve been looking at ways we can get some scale and food-led expertise into the business. Steve Wilkins fitted the bill from that perspective and we’ve got two of our pubs with him. While Apostrophe has been going well, we didn’t feel we had quite the right team.”

Gary Usher targets London debut as he looks to launch sixth bistro: Gary Usher, the Chester-based owner of a group of award-winning bistros, has targeted London as he looks to launch his first venue in the capital and sixth in total. Usher, who operates Sticky Walnut in Chester, Burnt Truffle in Heswall, Wreckfish in Liverpool and Hispi in Manchester, tweeted: “Viewing a site in Hackney.” Usher told Hot Dinners the move was “only a site visit at this time” but added he was looking to open a bistro in the capital. Usher has built his career on a series of crowdfunding campaigns, with his latest fund-raise on Kickstarter amassing almost £90,000 in record time. He will use the funds to launch a 55-cover bistro called Pinion in Prescot, Merseyside, which is expected to open this summer. Restaurant critic Marina O’Loughlin said of the original Sticky Walnut: “If I could clone Sticky Walnut, I would. I’d plonk its like the length of the land.”

BabaBoom secures former Des McDonald site in Islington for second restaurant: Middle Eastern restaurant concept BabaBoom has secured its second site, in Islington, north London. The company has completed a lease on 189 Upper Street and will open the site in August. The 70-cover restaurant was previously operated by Des McDonald under the Vintage Salt brand. The second restaurant follows the 42-cover site BabaBoom opened in Battersea Rise in autumn 2016. As a stepping stone to the new launch, the BabaBoom team operated BabaBoom East – a six-month residency at Deliveroo Editions in Whitechapel. The 1,500 square foot Upper Street site will have the same core focus of Middle Eastern-inspired kebabs made from scratch and cooked over coal – but with additions including its own draught brew Baba’s Beer. Co-founder Eve Bugler said: “Islington has been on our radar for some time and we initially offered on this site in mid-2017. By biding our time, we were able to secure it at a significantly lower premium. We’ve created something special in Battersea Rise and now it’s time to bring it to Upper Street. It’s a competitive market but we like that – it spurs us on. As a former Islington resident, I’m really excited about launching in the neighbourhood.” Marc Rogers, of MKR Property, advised BabaBoom on the deal.

Brighton-based Bison Beer to open third site: Brighton-based bar operator and micro-brewer Bison Beer is to open its third site. The company will open a pub in North Road, Brighton, following a £100,000 funding package from HSBC. The bar, which will be called North Laine Bar, Kitchen & Hideout and create 20 jobs, will offer craft ale such as Maple Chocolate & Coffee Stout and the brand’s own See Side APA, alongside bar snacks including deli meat, cheeseboards and olives. Founded by Jack Cregan and Nick Vardy, Bison Beer has a bar in Hove and a bottle shop in Brighton’s East Street. Cregan said: “It is really exciting to be launching our third venue with the support of HSBC. It will help to further raise our profile alongside creating more jobs for the local community. We look forward to welcoming customers to our new bar very soon to sample some fantastic local beer and ale.” Lucy Wynn, HSBC’s area director for business banking in south London, added: “Bison Beer is already an established brand within Brighton and Hove so we have no doubt its third location will be just as popular. The company is fast becoming a household name in East Sussex. With our funding, Jack and Nick have expanded at an incredible rate, with plans to grow the Bison Beer brand even further.”

Whitbread to replace cladding on 12 Premier Inns amid safety fears: Whitbread is to replace the cladding on 12 of its Premier Inns amid safety fears – including one that opened just days before the Grenfell Tower disaster. Following the tragedy in west London last June, which claimed the lives of 72 people, all Premier Inn buildings higher than 18 metres underwent urgent tests. Now Whitbread will update the cladding on 12 Premier Inns to ensure they meet government building guidelines. All the properties will remain open during the work. The list includes a ten-storey building on the River Ouse in Bedford, which opened in May 2017 just days before the Grenfell blaze. The other hotels are Maidenhead, Bristol Lewins Mead, Glasgow Buchannan Galleries, Hemel Hempstead Central, Brentford, Gatwick North Terminal, Heathrow Terminal 4, Tottenham Hale, London Waterloo and Woking. A Premier Inn spokesman told the Mirror: “Although our hotels have been independently assessed as entirely safe to operate irrespective of the cladding used and we’ve not received any request to change the cladding on any of our hotels, we’ve nonetheless taken the voluntary decision to replace it on the small number of properties involved. Given the unprecedented context including the time needed to test for appropriate replacements, the shortage of cladding nationally and long-lead times to order, this is a complicated issue – but we’re committed to ensuring the cladding is replaced as fast as possible.”

Subway opens 80th site in partnership with Applegreen: Subway has opened its 80th store in the UK and Ireland in partnership with independent petrol forecourt retailer Applegreen. The latest site is within the Applegreen petrol forecourt at Millfield Shopping Centre in Balbriggan, Republic of Ireland. The store also features Subway’s new Fresh Forward décor, with the modern format featuring digital menu boards, free-to-use charging ports, and a revamped fresh vegetable display. Applegreen has been a Subway partner since 2013, when it opened its first store in Gorey, Republic of Ireland. The forecourt retailer, which has more than 250 sites in the UK and Ireland, now has 49 Subway stores at its sites in the Republic of Ireland, 26 in Great Britain and five in Northern Ireland, with plans for further stores in the pipeline. Through its partnerships with operators such as Applegreen, Subway has more than 800 stores in non-traditional locations in the UK and Ireland, including hospitals, transport hubs, universities and colleges, petrol forecourts and convenience stores. Justin Goes, regional director Europe at Subway, said: “Non-traditional development has been a key factor in Subway’s growth in the UK and Ireland through our partnerships. There are still many opportunities for further stores at its locations and we look forward to working together to open many more in the future.” Applegreen head of food Aaron Duggan added: “We know our customers look to us for value and choice in fresh food and having a well-known brand such as Subway offers customers just that.”

Milanese fine dining restaurant Camillo Benso to open Mayfair sister site: Milanese fine dining restaurant Camillo Benso is to open a sister site in Mayfair. The restaurant will launch in Blenheim Street in mid-July offering a menu that will use ingredients delivered daily from Italy. Camillo Benso will also feature a bar offering cocktails and small snacks, while the restaurant will host regular live music sessions featuring “contemporary takes on classic Italian beats”. A team of Italian chefs will include Luigi Esposito, who honed his skills under Michelin-starred Antonino Cannavacciuolo. The menu will feature signature spaghetti dishes, favourites such as beef tartar and ragu meatballs, and desserts created by pastry chefs focusing on Neapolitan classics. There will also be a pizza menu while bread will be made by Niko Romito, of three Michelin-starred restaurant Reale. Camillo Benso London is the latest addition to the portfolio of F&C Group, founded by Antonio Fantini and Massimo Sanità, which also operates Milanese restaurant Giannino. The Mayfair venture will be the group’s first overseas opening, with further sites planned for New York and Miami.

Nando’s to turn Notting Hill restaurant into pop-up art gallery: Nando’s is to turn its restaurant in Notting Hill, north west London, into an art gallery next month. The Feast Your Eyes exhibition will showcase the work of five South African artists – Asanda Kupa, Audrey Anderson, Diana Hyslop, Emma Willemse and Sebastian Borckenhagen – and will be free to view for visitors to the restaurant during three days in July. All art will be for sale and visitors will be able to get to know the artists via a virtual reality experience that will allow them to look around their studios. Nando’s has also teamed up with arts organisation Creative Debuts to run workshops at the restaurant, with activities including mosaic-making and macramé, while the restaurant will offer a special menu, reports the Evening Standard. The move follows Nando’s first venture into the art world last summer, when the company turned its Soho branch into a gallery.

London-based steakhouse and beer concept Beef & Brew reveals more details of Haggerston site: London-based steakhouse and beer concept Beef & Brew has revealed further details of its second site in the capital, which will launch in Haggerston next month. The venue will open in Downham Road in De Beauvoir Town on Monday, 23 July at a site formerly occupied by Beavertown Brewery’s beer and barbecue concept Brew & Que. Unlike its north London site, the Haggerston spot will offer an extended menu including snacks such as half-pint of fried oysters with yuzu dressing or brisket on toast with pickles and gravy. Beef & Brew’s steaks include sirloin from Galicia, fillet from native-breed cattle in North Yorkshire and onglet from grass-fed Herefords. Each steak is dipped in beef dripping before being chargrilled. The venue will also offer Sunday roast, while drinks will include draught lager from Harviestoun, Calypso and Five Points alongside specialist beer flights and pairing plus wine on tap and a concise bottle list focusing on small producers. Beef & Brew was launched by Michelin-trained Jessica Simmonds and Daniel Nathan in September 2015. Nathan said: “We are moving into a beautiful old pub where we can welcome locals for everything from a beer and bar snack to a lazy Sunday roast while continuing to champion amazing small producers.” In December, Beef & Brew raised more than £250,000 on crowdfunding platform Seedrs to fund the opening.

Subway franchisee launches Heavenly Desserts venture: Subway franchisee Mohammed Vhora has started a Heavenly Desserts franchise backed by a business loan from HSBC. Vhora has opened his first Heavenly Desserts site in Loughborough and plans further openings across the Midlands during the next three years. The site in Baxter Gate offers a range of desserts, cakes and hot and cold drinks. The loan helped cover the franchise fee and some of the renovations and fit-out of the property, which was previously empty for 15 years. Vhora told Insider Media: “I have been working with HSBC since I started my first franchise in August 2017. Since then, the bank has been instrumental in helping me expand my business and invest in a new franchise with Heavenly Desserts.” Dave Welch, HSBC area director for business banking in Leicestershire, added: “We are delighted to support Mohammed in investing in a new franchise and bringing Heavenly Desserts to Loughborough.” Heavenly Desserts was founded in 2008 and has 12 sites, with eight more listed as “opening soon” on its website, including Cardiff, Coventry and Sheffield.

Manchester bar Mahiki launched by Neville and Giggs closes less than a year after opening: Manchester city centre bar Mahiki – the tiki brand brought to the city by former Manchester United footballers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs – has closed less than a year after opening. Neville signed a 20-year lease on a building in the historic Albert Estate in 2016 to launch the bar. Neville and Giggs’ GG Hospitality helped open the brand in Manchester but stepped away from its management shortly after. The club featured Mahiki’s staple tiki décor and signature cocktails, which Neville said brought a “little piece of paradise to the heart of Manchester”. Earlier this month it was announced Michelin-starred chef Michael O’Hare would part company with GG Hospitality to concentrate on his Michelin-starred restaurant The Man Behind The Curtain, which is in Leeds. O’Hare has been with GG Hospitality for the past two years and opened The Rabbit In The Moon in the Urbis building in central Manchester. The GG Hospitality portfolio includes three UK Café Football sites, the 133-bedroom Hotel Football Old Trafford, and GG Events and Catering. Giggs and Neville plan to open their second hotel in Manchester later this year in the former Stock Exchange building. Mahiki’s first site opened in Dover Street, London, in 2006.

London’s first chiringuito to launch next month: London’s first chiringuito is set to open next month, bringing “laid back, beach-style hospitality” to Bethnal Green. Loosely translated from Spanish, a chiringuito is an all-day beachfront bar and restaurant serving tapas, snacks and drinks. Alex Dehayen is launching Chiringuito by converting a derelict public toilet block next to Bethnal Green tube station into a contemporary all-day bar, which will have a rooftop terrace overlooking Museum Gardens. Peruvian head chef Marco Padilla is creating a menu inspired by Hispanic and Latin American flavours and embracing the sharing ethos of tapas and pinchos. The bar will specialise in gin and tonic and cocktails alongside cava, Spanish wine and craft beer from east London brewers such as Trumans and Redchurch. Dehayen said: “I want to bring something new and different to the place I live and capture something I love from Spain and Latin American countries that seems to be missing in London. I love the vibe of chiringuitos – they are places you can go from sun up to sun down.”

Jones & Sons launches second site, at Angel Central: British restaurant and cocktail bar Jones & Sons has opened a second London site, in Islington. The concept, launched by Andy Jones in 2013, has opened the venue at Angel Central Shopping Centre having previously agreed a deal with owner CBRE Global Investors. The 94-cover restaurant spans 2,110 square feet, including an outdoor terrace. The kitchen is headed by Kieran Hope, who has been head chef at the debut Jones & Sons site in Dalston from the start. He has also worked at east London restaurants Bistrotheque, Le Pont de la Tour and Hix. Jones & Sons offers brunch, lunch, bar plates, bottomless brunch, and a la carte and fixed-price menus, which change every six to seven weeks. Jones said: “After being in back streets and hidden away for five years, having a site in the heart of Angel was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.” Matthew Barratt, asset manager at CBRE Global Investors, added: “Jones & Sons is a fantastic addition to the line-up of dining brands at the centre and this opening cements Angel Central as a destination where emerging brands want to be.” The 170,000 square foot Angel Central is home to a variety of retail and restaurant brands including Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Wagamama. CBRE, CWM and BNP Paribas act on behalf of Angel Central for all leasing enquiries. Jones & Sons represented itself.

Gusto appoints Cube3 as lead digital partner: Italian casual dining group Gusto has appointed Manchester-based agency Cube3 as its lead digital partner following a competitive pitch. Cube3 will undertake a full website redevelopment for Gusto, which operates 19 sites. Gusto head of digital Phil Leather said: “Our appointment of Cube3 as digital partner will bring much-needed focus on creating effective user journeys while showcasing the skills and expertise of our teams. We’re looking forward to getting started.” Cube3 managing director Mark Bailey added: “Working with Gusto is an exciting opportunity for us to partner with a leading name in the leisure and hospitality sector. We can bring a wealth of knowledge to the table, helping Gusto to grow further.”

Novus reopens City bar The Sterling following £200,000 investment: Novus, the London bar and restaurant operator, has reopened its City site The Sterling following a £200,000 refurbishment. The investment has seen both bars at The Sterling, which sits at the base of the Gherkin, opened up as part of a complete refresh, as well as the introduction of an open kitchen to showcase the new summer menu. It includes The Sterling’s twist on a summer hamper, with its range of picnic-inspired sharing dishes. The Sterling, which has been open since 2005, has space for more than 160 covers inside and a further 200 outside. Chief executive Toby Smith said: “The Sterling is one of our iconic London sites. Following our investment in the two bars and terrace, we look forward to welcoming old and new customers to one of the very best sites in the UK.”

Isle of Arran Distillers to open second distillery in the spring: Isle of Arran Distillers is set to open its second distillery on the Scottish island by spring 2019. The facility will include a visitors’ centre and overlook the south coast of Arran and the Firth of Clyde. Copper pot stills will be installed early next year followed by the first production run of a whisky that will become the flagship Lagg Distillery Single Malt Scotch. Euan Mitchell, managing director of Isle of Arran Distillers, said: “It is fantastic to see the vision turning into reality. Everything is on target to be complete by spring next year. We’re assembling a team that will play an integral role in growing the business and producing rich, earthy and high-quality peated spirit.” When fully operational, Lagg Distillery will increase the company’s production capacity to two million litres, while total visitor numbers to both distilleries are expected to exceed 200,000 by 2020.

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