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Tue 3rd Jul 2018 - Update: Higher alcohol taxes loom, Whitbread job cuts, UKHospitality Op Awards finalists
Higher alcohol taxes planned by government to boost spending: The government is considering raising alcohol duty to raise billions of pounds to boost spending. Ministers were said to be considering lifting the freeze on alcohol duty that was part of last autumn’s Budget. Increasing the tax would raise more than £200m a year. The government is also considering higher fuel duty. An inflation-linked increase on fuel duty next year, which would raise £800m in its first 12 months, is one of the proposals said to be “under serious consideration” by ministers to help fund prime minister Theresa May’s health spending pledge, reports The Guardian. The move, which would end an eight-year freeze on duty, is likely to meet robust opposition from Tory MPs concerned about the cost of living. The freeze on fuel duty is said to have cost the treasury £46bn over the past eight years and it is estimated it will cost an £26bn through to 2020-21. At present it is frozen at 57.95 pence per litre, the rate it reached in 2011. May has come under pressure to give additional cash to other departments after pledging an extra £20bn for the NHS by 2023. Gavin Williamson, the defence secretary, has demanded an increase to his budget, while Sajid Javid, the home secretary, wants more money for policing. May has said her NHS pledge, timed to coincide with the 70th birthday of the health service, will be funded in part through a “Brexit dividend”, but that claim has been questioned by economists. Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies), has said slower growth and lower tax revenues mean that public finances will be weaker for several years after Brexit.
Whitbread to cut 250 manager jobs from restaurant business: Whitbread is cutting at least 250 management jobs from its restaurant business as part of a transformation programme. The company said the changes would create a more “efficient and effective” business. Whitbread has already revealed it will spin off the Costa Coffee brand as a separate business. The group had been under pressure from hedge funds to break up the business due to the contrasting nature of Premier Inn and Costa. However, it is understood the latest restructuring is unrelated to the demerger. A Whitbread spokesman said it was consulting with staff affected to find alternative roles for them. He added: “We’re proposing to simplify the management teams in our restaurants’ business. Regrettably however, the proposed changes would result in a number of managers leaving the business.”
Major restaurant chain caught serving beer in pint glass too small: A major restaurant chain has been caught serving pints of beer in glasses that are 8.1 millilitres too small. A nationwide recall of the glasses was ordered amid fears drinkers had been served short measures at the restaurants up and down the country. The discovery was made by Birmingham Trading Standards, which launched an investigation after a “significant complaint” was made. The council discovered the chain, which has not been identified, was selling beer in glasses that were 8.1 millilitres too shallow. It recalled 41 glasses from two bars in the city ahead of a wider recall. Officials declined to identify the chain or the glass manufacturer because the case did not result in a prosecution. A Birmingham City Council spokesman told The Telegraph: “It was referred to the relevant body to action and an audit was carried out. The supplier and retailer took corrective action to remove all the glassware from use and supply with immediate effect.” The investigation occurred in November but has only just been revealed in the council’s regulation and enforcement annual report for 2017/18. In February, trading officials warned bar staff were short changing drinkers by putting too much head on top of a pint. Industry guidelines state the froth should form part of the overall measure but officers insist a pint should mean a pint of liquid. They say drinkers should request a top-up if they want one and have encouraged them to contact Trading Standards if bar staff were uncooperative.
UKHospitality reveals 2018 Operations Managers Awards finalists: UKHospitality has revealed the finalists for the 2018 Operations Managers Awards, the annual search for the best in the licensed hospitality sector. In the managed category, the finalists represent Casual Dinign Group-owned Bella Italia, ETM Group, Deltic Group, Oakman Inns, Mitchells & Butlers, Stonegate Pubs and Young’s, and in the franchised and leased sector the finalists come from Admiral Taverns and Star Pubs & Bars. The finalists are Ben Chater, Anna Clissold, Matt Cornwell, Geraint Cryer, Paul Dutnall, Matt Glisson, Stewart Grant, Kyle Gunn, Andrew Jamieson, Adrian Laws, Alasdair Lindsay, JP McKeown, Paul Moore, Garry-David Phillips, Cormac Rawson and Lorna Willoughby. Nick Bish, founder of the awards, said: “The potential of the candidates never ceases to amaze all of those involved. The talent that exists in the industry’s operations teams demonstrates that those who seek to make a career in this business are as good, if not better, than their peers in numerous other retail sectors. Let alone dealing with the motivating and supporting their teams or entrepreneurial business owners, they have to ensure they are right up to date with of all the numerous legal issues and environmental challenges that face modern licensed retail premises. The continued development of the awards, where we engage an ever-growing and wider hospitality sector, is testament to the strength of this highly-regarded scheme and the reach of UKHospitality.” The finalists will be closely assessed in the field by a mentor judge following a rigorous masterclass led by Chris Nichols. After a final interview before the mentor judges and eight leading operators from the sector, the winners will be announced at a standalone event at the Pullman Hotel in London on Monday, 15 October.
Pubs show massive growth in draught beer sales during England World Cup games: Analysis by beer quality and insight expert Vianet during the last three England World Cup matches has shown a massive increase in draught beer sales. The average increase in pints sold across the three games was 109 pints with the biggest increase being last Thursday’s (28 June) match against Belgium with an increase of circa 134 pints sold. Average volumes across all sites combined (managed, leased and tenanted) utilising the data showed an average uplift of 70% compared with the same days last year. This means the additional turnover value to the pub is about £381 per session based on the average of 109 pints increase at £3.50 a pint. The trend is set to continue to grow even more as England progresses in the tournament with the next match tonight (Tuesday, 3 July) against Columbia. Vianet said last month the World Cup would create the largest pub trading days in the 2018 calendar following insight from its Euro 2016 data. Vianet customers’ sales showed that in 2016 major sporting events accounted for the biggest trading days outside Christmas with the Euro 2016 match against England and Russia showing the highest trade out of all the sporting fixtures. Speaking about the World Cup opportunity, Vianet managing director Steve Alton said: “Reviewing the data we received from the last three World Cup games, we know that as long as England can stay in the tournament and pubs show the matches, they can reap the rewards.”
NewRiver appoints new chairman: NewRiver, which owns a portfolio of 629 pubs, has appointed Margaret Ford, Baroness Ford of Cunninghame, as its new chairman. Baroness Ford will become chairman from 1 October following Paul Roy’s announcement last month he would not stand for re-election at the 2019 annual general meeting. Roy has served as chairman since its formation in 2009. Baroness Ford joined the Company on 1 September 2017 as senior independent non-executive director and has more than 20 years’ experience as a non-executive director and chairman of private and listed companies. Baroness Ford is currently the chairman of STV Group and was previously the chairman of Grainger and a non-executive director of SEGRO and Taylor Wimpey. Alastair Miller, a non-executive director of NewRiver, will replace Baroness Ford as the company’s senior independent non-executive director. Miller joined the company as a non-executive director in January 2016. The company has commenced a search for a new non-executive director and will provide an update in due course. Roy said: “It has been a privilege to serve as NewRiver’s chairman since the company was founded nine years ago. Thanks to the skill, dedication and enthusiasm of NewRiver’s executive management and employees, the company has grown from a small AIM listed entity to a FTSE 250 constituent during this period. In Baroness Ford we have found an excellent new chairman with significant property sector expertise, and I am confident that I will be leaving the company in very capable hands.” Baroness Ford added: “I am delighted to be appointed as NewRiver’s chairman, and would like to thank Paul on behalf of NewRiver for his leadership over a successful nine years for the company. NewRiver is a great business with a strong track record of delivering growing shareholder returns and investing in thriving communities throughout the UK. I look forward to working with chief executive Allan Lockhart and the board to guide the company through the next exciting phase of its development.”
Six coffees a day can cut risk of early death: Drinking six or seven cups of coffee a day could keep people alive for longer, according to scientists. In one of the biggest studies of its kind, the mortality rates of half a million middle-aged and elderly Britons were compared with their coffee intake. Those who had six or seven cups a day did best, being 16% less likely to die from any disease over a ten-year period than those who never touched it. Death rates were cut by 14% in those who got through eight cups or more, twice the limit of caffeine recommended by the UK Food Standards Agency. Two to five cups, one cup or less than one cup a day reduced mortality by 12%, 8% and 6% respectively. Erikka Loftfield, a cancer epidemiologist and lead author of the study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, said the results applied to all types of coffee, including ground, instant and decaf. No association was found between any amount of coffee and health risks including cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and cancer. Loftfield said the findings suggested the importance of its “non-caffeine constituents”. Coffee has been linked with combating heart disease, cancer, dementia, diabetes and depression. It is abundant in antioxidants, which reduce inflammation and boost lung function.
Ei Group appoints new non-executive director: Ei Group has appointed Jane Bednall as a non-executive director. Bednall will serve on the audit, nomination and remuneration committees of the board. Bednall is chief marketing officer at energy company SSE and has previously held senior marketing positions with Intercontinental Hotels Group, British Gas and British Airways. Until recently she served as a non-executive director of Smart Energy GB, the body responsible for engagement in smart metering for domestic and commercial customers. Ei Group chairman Robert Walker said: “We have sought to secure a new non-executive director with the right combination of skills to support the group’s strategic direction. Jane brings a diverse set of marketing experience gained in a number of complex and consumer facing organisations together with first class digital and direct marketing credentials.” Bednall added: “This is an exciting time to join Ei Group as its strategy announced in 2015 progresses and the way and spaces in which it operates continue to evolve.”
Trampoline parks bounced by rivals: A surge in competition in the indoor trampoline park world has sparked fears the market is losing its bounce. The first UK site Bounce opened in 2014 and since then almost 200 have been built across the country at an estimated cost of £400m. The phenomenon began in America, where the first park opened in 2004. The impact of increased competition started to be felt last year. Go Ape, the tree-top adventure group, abandoned its diversification into trampolining and sold its three Air Space centres to Oxygen Freejumping, the biggest operator, for about £6m. Last week, Oxygen Freejumping closed two of its trampoline parks, in Manchester and East Kilbride, with the loss of about 40 jobs. Planet Bounce, in Corby, has also shut its doors and Derby’s Bounce Revolution has fallen into administration. Oxygen Freejumping now has seven centres after placing its Oxygen Manchester and Air Space Glasgow centres into administration. It said the closures were part of a restructuring that led to the company being sold to an investment firm. NM Capital, which backed the purchases from Go Ape, has injected £5m of new capital into Oxygen in return for a stake of about 85%. In May, NM Capital announced the acquisition of British Military Fitness, the outdoor fitness operator. The Oxygen investment will enable the group to develop a 30,000 square foot trampoline park at the O2 among other new sites. David Stalker, chief executive of Oxygen Freejumping, told The Times the sites in Manchester and East Kilbride had traded well to start with but a surge of new competitors had hit takings. The restructuring reduces the group’s debt. Another problem faced by the sector is the issue of health and safety. Insurance claims have pushed operators’ premiums up by a third over the past 18 months. Stalker will stay on as chief executive but Fred Turok, his co-founder and a former boss of LA Fitness, the gym chain, has stepped down as chairman and left the business. Stalker added: “The outlook for the trampoline park sector remains very positive.”

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