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Thu 23rd Aug 2018 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Jamie Oliver – 'I don't know anyone in the restaurant industry that's doing high fives at the moment': Jamie Oliver has said he does not know "anyone in the industry that's doing high fives at the moment" as he described the struggle for "survival" for restaurants on the high street. During a visit to Manchester with his mentor and long-time collaborator Gennaro Contaldo to promote their new Channel 4 cookery series Jamie Cooks Italy, Oliver also outlined how he is bringing his Jamie's Italian brand back to life. Oliver opened his Jamie's Italian in Manchester in the grade II-listed former Midland Bank in King Street in 2002. He told the Manchester Evening News: "From my point of view, I think we've got one of the best sites, best buildings in Manchester, so (it's) the idea of how do you bring that to life? I think we're getting closer to where we need to get to make the high street survive, which is to give people a reason to come out – and not just for food. (They're thinking) what else can we have? Our customers generally come back twice a year. Well we'd really like you back four times a year, so how do we earn that? From a creative point of view it's really good pressure on us – from a reality point of view it's survival. I don't know anyone in the restaurant industry that's doing high fives at the moment, unless they're a small neighbourhood restaurant and god bless if they are having a good time." The Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group closed a third of its Jamie's Italian sites across the UK this year after entering a Company Voluntary Arrangement. Oliver added: "The world's changed in the restaurant industry in the last year-and-a-half. It's like any other business on the high street – it's just really tough. We're in a changed time and obviously there's lots of pressures even for good businesses, so how can we bring four walls to life more? How can we curate a space? Is it a restaurant or should we think of it more like a gig venue or a museum? I think these moments define industries. We don't know what's around the corner – we're kind of trying to work it out."

Industry News:

Propel Multi Club Conference opens for bookings, James Nye to present, two free places for operators: The final Propel Multi Club Conference of 2018 is now open for bookings. The full-day event takes place on Thursday, 1 November at the Grange Hotel, St Paul's, London. James Nye, managing director of the award-winning, nine-strong Anglian Country Inns, will talk about how the company adapts its offer to a wide variety of trading locations, including country pubs, town centres and Norfolk coastal tourist destinations, with pizza, coffee shop, a wedding barn and a micro-brewery. He will also talk about innovative use of a Downing bond to finance a new site. Multi-site operators of pubs, restaurants and foodservice outlets can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele at

Hospitality operators neglect engagement on Google reviews: New statistics from Feed It Back’s monthly social review tracker has revealed, despite being the most popular review platform in 2018, Google is also the platform least engaged with by operators. Of all reviews in July, 58.4% were submitted on Google, significantly surpassing Facebook (5.4%) and TripAdvisor (36.2%). Yet the statistics, which were taken from thousands of social reviews across the restaurant and pub industries, revealed only fewer than a fifth of reviews left on Google were responded to by operators. Conversely, operators in July were most inclined to interact with consumers on TripAdvisor, with more than 58% of reviews receiving a response; while Facebook saw 39% of customer reviews directly engaged with by operators. Feed It Back said this trend can partly be attributed to the fact Google has a larger share of positive reviews – which operators are less inclined to respond to – with 75% leaving feedback ranging from four to five out of five in July, edging out Facebook (72%) and TripAdvisor (71%). Meanwhile, consumers were more likely to leave a negative review on Facebook, with 22% leaving feedback ranging from one to two out of five. TripAdvisor followed closely behind with 19%; whereas negative reviews on Google only equated to 11%. Carlo Platia, chief executive of Feed It Back, said: “It is an absolute must operators are actively looking to engage with their consumers online to enhance their reputation, presence and glean insight into how to improve their customer experience. Google reviews, driven by location prompts from mobile devices, provide the most feedback from consumers, but they are being neglected by operators. Even in instances where consumers have simply left a rating and not added additional comments, operators should still be looking to engage and gather information. By not addressing reviews and comments – positive or negative – operators are missing an opportunity to communicate with their customers and convert negative reviewers into brand advocates by acknowledging responses and rectifying grievances." This data is part of a regular report Feed It Back runs across social reviews To sign up for a monthly copy of this report, email

UK's first Chinese food diploma to launch: The first Chinese food diploma is to be launched in a bid to address the decline in Chinese chefs and produce home-grown talent. Backed by the Chinese Cuisine Association, the new Chinese culinary arts course starts next month. The course is delivered primarily online, including weekly webinars, with practical assessments at the end of each term. It aims to save restaurant and hotel owners upwards of £15,000 on recruiting a Chinese chef from the Far East, while also offering them an opportunity to increase their existing dining options. At present, most Chinese chefs for the UK's 2,700 Chinese restaurants are recruited from overseas with owners using recruitment agents to find chefs willing to relocate to the UK. The course, which will follow Lu Ban workshop principles, has received significant inward investment from China. It is a level three qualification managed by Coventry-based PAM Education and run in conjunction with Chichester College Group and Tianjin Second School of Cuisine Food Group. PAM Education founder and director Russell Grocott said: "Our work has escalated from what started as the design of an education programme into a mission to reintroduce authentic Chinese culinary arts across the UK. Our programme provides budding Chinese chefs and restaurant owners with the opportunity to learn skills and gain a regulated qualification recognised worldwide supported by the finest master chefs based in China." Successful completion of the course will secure a diploma in Chinese culinary arts.

UKHospitality chief operating officer steps down: Rupert Culme-Seymour has stepped down as chief operating officer of UKHospitality. Culme-Seymour has left the organisation following the successful merger of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and the British Hospitality Association to form UKHospitality. A replacement for Culme-Seymour is expected to be announced in due course. Culme-Seymour joined the ALMR in June last year and was responsible for the trade association’s commercial and membership growth, as well as overseeing its annual schedule of commercial, training and member-focused events. Prior to that he spent 19 years at Heineken UK.

Deliveroo adds breakfast in Belfast: Deliveroo has added breakfast to its service in Belfast. The company said a limited number of restaurants are now signing up to deliver breakfasts. The venues that have signed up range from Mexican chain Boojum, Titanic Quarter venue Cast and Crew – part of chef Niall McKenna's chain of restaurants – and Belfast Cuban Sandwich Factory. Dan Warne, managing director of Deliveroo in the UK and Ireland, told the Belfast Telegraph: "We're excited to be partnering with some of the finest breakfast eateries in Belfast and we're looking forward to bringing some of the restaurants' delicious morning dishes to customers' doors." Earlier this month Deliveroo announced it had added 25 new takeaways to its service in Belfast. The Marketplace+ service allows restaurants who do their own deliveries to sign up to the Deliveroo app and website. They pay a "signing on" fee of an undisclosed sum to join the service. Deliveroo said it had signed up more than 25 traditional takeaway-style restaurants to the new service. But it said the new takeaways would be able to continue using their own drivers and would not be under an obligation to use Deliveroo "riders". However, they will have the option of using Deliveroo cyclists if their own delivery staff are not available. There are about 160 Deliveroo riders in Belfast.

US restaurant chains to end 'no-poaching' agreements: An agreement between eight restaurant chains to not poach each other’s employees will end after pressure was applied by the Washington State attorney general. The agreement was enforced through clauses in franchise contracts across the US. The development impacts hundreds of thousands of employees across the Applebee’s, Church’s Chicken, Five Guys, IHOP, Jamba Juice, Little Caesars, Panera and Sonic chains. McDonald's, Arby's and Carl's Jr ended a similar agreement earlier this year over complaints the tactic held down wages unfairly.

Kent CAMRA branch suggests German-style pub opening rota system to boost trade: A Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) branch in Kent has suggested pubs adopt a rota system used in Germany whereby opening times are staggered to boost trade. Ruhrtag, which means “rest day”, is an agreement among landlords in the area to close one day a week to spread around income and not open on quiet days. In Germany, it is run by the local council and enforced by the police. Alan Jefferies, chairman of Medway CAMRA, told Kent Live: “Some pubs are forced to stay open whether they have clients or not. The agreement is only for a year and landlords can choose their ‘closed’ day. This can be adjusted when large events occur, such as the World Cup or a royal wedding.”

Eight out of ten hospitality employees in London feel stress at work with anti-social hours primary cause: Eight out of ten hospitality employees in London feel stress at work, according to a new survey. The findings by hospitality recruiter The Change Group showed long and anti-social hours were the primary cause of stress at work (45%), with demanding employers (19%) and kitchen culture (18%) being the two next most important factors. Even front-of-house employees cited long hours as a more significant cause of stress (30%) than demanding customers (26%). One in five workers cited smoking (23%) and alcohol (22%) as the main routes to relieving stress in the workplace. About one in eight (12%) take exercise to relieve stress, one in 11 (9%) sleep, and one in 25 (4%) see friends or meditate. One in 50 workers (2%) will eat to ease stress and about one in seven (15%) will simply do nothing. More than one in three workers (36%) left their previous job to find a better work-life balance. The Change Group founder Craig Allen said: “Hospitality can be a very rewarding industry that provides opportunities for being creative and entrepreneurial. However, hospitality is also very hard work, and the hours can be long and anti-social. Employers are looking at how they can better structure rotas, flexibility and benefits to create the best environment for employees to thrive. But as an industry, we all need to work together to do more. We very much support Andrew Clarke’s recently launched Pilot Light initiative and Hospitality Action, which both raise awareness and support hospitality workers experiencing mental health issues.”

Company News:

McDonald's pledges to offer 43,000 apprenticeships in Europe – including UK – as part of youth unemployment initiative: McDonald's has pledged to offer 43,000 apprenticeships in Europe – including the UK – by 2025 as part of a new initiative to tackle youth employment. The company said the apprenticeships would be offered in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Switzerland, with the aim of expanding to other markets in Europe in the future. It is part of its Youth Opportunity initiative that aims to put a dent in the global youth unemployment rate. McDonald's is kicking off the scheme by pledging $2m to projects in his home town of Chicago. Another $1m will be granted to Skills for Chicagoland’s Future to launch a new apprenticeship program with City Colleges of Chicago. If the approach is successful, the company said it would roll out similar plans in other cities in the US. starting from 2019. McDonald’s said it long-term effort is to improve employment prospects for two million young people by 2025. David Fairhurst, McDonald’s executive vice-president and chief people officer, said: “Around the world, too many young people are finding, through no fault of their own, there are barriers to entry into the workplace. We believe this needs to change. That is why McDonald’s and participating franchisees are expanding our existing world-class workplace training and education programs to go beyond those that we hire. Together, we will leverage our scale for good and help these young people to develop the core workplace skills they need to get a job and the opportunities they need to kick-start their career and achieve their true potential – whether at McDonald’s or elsewhere.”

DHP Family appoints head of brand partnerships: Live music venue operator DHP Family has appointed Richie Deeney to the newly created role of head of brand partnerships. Deeney will work alongside managing director George Akins and director of live Anton Lockwood to deliver brand partnerships across its venues, festivals and live concerts. He has previously worked on music campaigns for brands such as Absolut Vodka and Adidas and with music artists including Badly Drawn Boy and Outkast. DHP Family currently operates eight venues across London, Nottingham and Bristol as well as outdoor festivals, national tours and standalone shows across the UK. His role will include taking responsibility for the full life cycle of the brand partnership, from concept to delivery; building strategic relationships with current and future partners and developing new business prospects. Deeney said: “The importance of music and brands working together has changed so much over the past decade, especially in the live industry. I have always held the strong belief that it’s how that partnership is executed in form of the idea and its content that is important." Akins said: “We’ve recognised for some time the importance of brand partnerships, and we’re delighted to have now found the right person who can work with us to do it in a creative and forward thinking way.”

Macellaio RC secures fifth London site: Italian steak brand Macellaio RC has secured its fifth London site, in Bloomsbury. Founder Roberto Costa is opening the venue in Store Street this autumn. Once the Duke of Bedford’s filling station, the 1,447 square foot site with a 581 square foot forecourt and its distinctive mural has been secured on a 15-year lease following agreement with landlord The Bedford Estates. Costa said: "I fell in love with this venue and the Bloomsbury area at first sight. For me it’s an honour to be able to raise the curtain of our theatre in such a historical venue. As Italian artisans, we love the history behind this incredible building, one of the biggest petrol station in the 1920s, and we want to show it respect so it gives us the right motivation to do our very best.” Simon Elmer, steward of the London estate at The Bedford Estates, added: “Our focus is on attracting a quality mix of independent retail and dining to Bloomsbury. This part of London is renowned for its rich history, elegant period buildings and attractive garden squares. New additions, such as Macellaio RC, ensure we enhance the area as a place to live in, work in and visit.” Costa opened the first Macellaio RC in South Kensington in 2012, followed by Exmouth Market, Union Street and Clapham. In May this year, a site was opened in Milan.

Hakkasan accounts show $50.5m paid to unnamed director: Companies House accounts posted for Hakkasan show it paid $50.5m to one unnamed director in the year to June 2017. Payments to directors went up from a total of $2.2m in the previous period to a total of $54.4m with $50.5m going to just one person, the highest paid director. Turnover went down over the period by 7% to $313.6m. This compared with administrative expenses of $413.7m, resulting in an operating loss of more than $138m. Sales in the UK dropped by 11%, linked to a weak performance at HKK, which closed in October 2017. Sales were also down 4% at its flagship Omnia nightclub in Las Vegas. Adjusted Ebitda dropped to $2.2m compared with $18.7m in 2016. The company reported it has closed or is closing five restaurants in the period since the year-end. 

Paddy & Scotts introduces staff company share scheme: Independent Suffolk coffee shop operator and wholesaler Paddy & Scott’s has introduced a company share scheme for all employees. The brainchild of brand director Jon Reed, the scheme offers staff the chance to become "equity partners", allowing them a share in the business profits as well as taking a key role in the business strategy and development. Reed said: “Our team is Paddy & Scott’s heroes – developing new product ranges, delivering exceptional customer service and playing a key part in the business. We’re proudly investing in our employees as a way of rewarding them for their commitment while fuelling ambition for the future. Paddy & Scott’s is at the forefront of innovative business development – we’re a dynamic and inspirational team and it’s another strike for us in the worldwide coffee market.” Paddy & Scott’s business started from the boot of founder and chief executive Scott Russell's car in 2007. 

The Gresham Collective to open third Cork & Bottle, in Hampstead: The Gresham Collective is to open its third Cork & Bottle wine bar, in Hampstead. The company is opening the venue in Fleet Road next month after taking over the former The White Horse pub. It will feature more than 300 bottles of wine while there will also be an outside garden. The food will include its usual plates of cheese and charcuterie as well as its signature ham and cheese pie. There will also be a larger menu, which features dishes such as garlic stuffed snails and steak with Shropshire Blue butter and chips. Don Hewitson, the man who opened the first Cork & Bottle back in 1971, has passed the mantle on to The Gresham Collective owner Will Clayton, who told Hot Dinners he has "just the same philosophies" as Hewitson and is modernising the brand under Hewitson's watchful eye. Cork & Bottle's other sites are in Leicester Square and Paddington.

Chipotle staff to be tested quarterly on food safety: Chipotle employees are to be tested quarterly on food safety as staff across its US restaurants undergo retraining this week. The training programme comes as a response to health officials in Ohio identifying the cause of a foodborne illness outbreak stemming from a Chipotle restaurant in Powell, which sickened at least 647 people. Training is happening over the course of this week at various times to accommodate schedules, but most are happening before the restaurants open. No restaurants will be closed for the training. Beyond this week’s training programme, Chipotle said it plans to test employees regularly to ensure they have command of food safety protocols. A Chipotle spokeswoman told Nation’s Restaurant News: “We are retraining all employees on our top food safety protocols including proper hand washing, hot and cold temperature holding procedures, cooking and prep procedures. To ensure ongoing execution and compliance, we are adding to our daily food safety routines a reoccurring online knowledge assessment of our food safety standards. This will be done quarterly.” In 2016, Chipotle said it would “dramatically” increase the number, and intensity, of restaurant inspections after a series of foodborne illness outbreaks. Among the new procedures was stepping up the number of restaurant inspections both by independent auditors and internal teams. The company also launched new handling procedures for produce, citrus and meats, and comprehensive hand washing protocols.

JD Wetherspoon to strictly apply 'no dogs' rule from next month: JD Wetherspoon is to enforce a ban on dogs in its premises from next month. Spokesman Eddie Gershon said: "Even well behaved dogs can be unpredictable and every dog owner thinks their dog is perfect. We welcome a lot of children and families at our restaurants. Younger children in particular can be unpredictable around dogs and many are scared of dogs. We serve a lot of food. Unfortunately not all owners are diligent over cleaning up dog mess." The "no-dogs" policy notice reads: "Please note Wetherspoon has a policy of not allowing dogs in its pubs, including all outside areas. (assistance dogs excepted). This policy was introduced shortly after the company was founded in 1979, although in recent years we have allowed a few exceptions. After much consultation, we will now be strictly enforcing this policy everywhere. In order to give those affected time to adjust we have set a deadline of Monday, 10 September."

City District Group to open fifth Fazenda, in Birmingham: City District Group is to open a site in Birmingham as the fifth venue for its Brazilian rodizio restaurant brand Fazenda. Founders Robert Melman and Tomas Maunier are opening the venue within the refurbished 55 Colmore Row in October. It has taken a unit on the corner of Church Street and Barwick Street at the back of the building, reports Birmingham Live. City District Group’s other Fazenda restaurants are in Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool, while it operates sister brand Picanha in Chester. Last month, the company launched Tast Cuina Catalana in Manchester in partnership with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and Michelin-starred chef Paco Perez.

Kafoodle closes £500,000 seed-round funding for expansion and strengthens senior team: Labelling and allergen compliance expert Kafoodle has secured £500,000 seed-round funding for growth and expansion into other markets. The company, which was founded by experienced entrepreneur Kim Antoniou and hospitality expert Tarryn Gorre in 2014, specialises in food, allergen and nutrition management software for a variety of sectors, including hospitality. As a result of the fund round and to broaden its experience, Kafoodle has expanded its senior management team and board. Bill Alexander, chief executive of online gift experience retailer Redletterdays, has been appointed as non-executive chairman. Caroline Monkhouse Flower, ex-Deloitte management consultant and co-founder of food and nutrition consultancy Fig & Bloom, has been appointed as chief operating officer while Gorre has been appointed as chief executive. Gorre said: “We are delighted we have closed our seed fund round, our largest fund-raising to date. This will not only support our ambitions to grow, scale and innovate but will help us to deliver our vision – to improve health globally through transparency within food. I’m very excited for the future and have every confidence in our newly strengthened executive team and board.” Alexander added: “I’ve seen Kafoodle go from strength to strength over the past couple of years and felt it was the perfect time to get involved and provide my support and experience to the executive team and board. The Kafoodle team has both the passion and drive to make this opportunity an incredibly successful time for the business.” Monkhouse Flower said: “We are in a strong position and I’m looking forward to focusing on ensuring we have the right structure, team and processes to enable us to scale the business effectively over the coming year.”

Guy Ritchie buys London pub: Film director Guy Ritchie has bought a London pub. Ritchie is set to take over The Lukin in Conway Street, in Fitztrovia, which closed earlier this year but is currently being refurbished. The pub will be renamed The Lore of the Land, which is inspired by Ritchie's own beer English Lore, which he makes at his Gritchie micro-brewery that is located in a converted barn on his own farm at Ashcombe House on the Dorset/Wiltshire border, reports the Evening Standard. Ritchie bought his first London pub, The Punch Bowl in Mayfair, in 2008 with his ex-wife Madonna but the Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels director sold it in 2013. It was known for its traditional British menu.

Greene King launches vegan range at Hungry Horse pubs as part of new menu: Brewer and retailer Greene King has launched a vegan range at its Hungry Horse pubs nationwide as part of its new menu. The vegan range features seven plant-based dishes, including pub classic fish and chips, which is produced by VBites and is made of fish-free "fish" flakes, as well as a Bakewell tart that is served with vegan vanilla flavoured ice cream. Jason Radbourn, senior food development manager at Hungry Horse, said: “After listening intently to our customers’ feedback it came through loud and clear that we needed to experiment with our dishes to cater to a more broad range of diets. Working closely with our suppliers, we’ve not only introduced a number of new plant-based dishes, but we’ve also put a spin on some of the traditional pub classics we offer, such as fish and chips which is now available with vegan fish-free fillets and is already proving popular with our customers.”

New immersive cocktail bar concept to open in Fitzrovia next month: A new immersive cocktail bar concept is to open in Fitzrovia next month. Matthew Roberts and Elliot Davies are launching Genuine Liquorette inside a converted Victorian pub in Rathbone Place. The New York-inspired bar will offer an array of signature experiences aimed at breaking traditional cocktail norms by handing an element of control over to its guests – whether they’re creating their own cocktails to take home or partaking in cocktail masterclasses that grant them the privilege to tend the bar whenever they wish. Meanwhile, immersive bar areas tucked away in the "stockrooms" beyond will offer an array of experiences including an "All Stars" lineup of exclusive cocktails from well-known mixologists to Liquorette’s "Cha-Chunker" cocktails – a novel invention that uses a machine with a metal point to widen the hole of any canned drink so a miniature bottle of alcohol can then be inverted, resulting in a twist on the classic spirit and mix.

Farmer J to launch second City of London site next month: All-day market food concept Farmer J, which launched in Leadenhall in May 2016, will open a second site in the City of London next month. The new venue will open in King William Street on Monday, 3 September offering the brand’s signature “field trays”, which consist of a main course, grains or leaves, two sides and one of three sauces. Breakfast options will include salt beef hash browns and shakshuka alongside bagels, sourdough pastries and muffins from Fortitude Bakery plus speciality coffee, fresh juice and smoothies. Lunch will be cooked daily from scratch, with 90% of food made on-site. Field tray mains will include spiced rose harissa chicken and charred tofu steak with white miso, aubergine and ginger dressing. Evening dishes will include lamb shawarma alongside beer and kombucha on tap and cocktails. The decor will feature lime-washed brick and polished concrete walls offset by greenery, brass fittings and dark green leather and velvet seating. Farmer J founder Jonathan Recanati said: “It’s time for Farmer J to plough the next field so we’re looking forward to opening our new home at King William Street. Our ethos will remain the same – respecting our fantastic produce and cooking real food with sustainable, seasonal ingredients.”

Visitor management app launches new mobile function to streamline processes and enhance health and safety: Visitor management app Sign In has launched a new mobile function to streamline the management process and enhance health and safety. Companion is designed to work alongside the Sign In app solution to provide staff and visitor management functionality at their fingertips via a smartphone. The app provides users with instant access to three key elements – a personalised QR code for staff to quickly sign in and out of premises, the ability to pre-register visitors and perform fire/evacuation roll calls. Companion automatically generates a QR code when the app is downloaded and is immediately visible upon loading the app. This also makes it useful for regular visitors, such as contractors, as it negates the need for them to sign in as a guest each time they visit. The app also has the ability to generate a real-time evacuation roll call list that can be immediately viewed on a smartphone. The app also features a timer, which can be started once the fire alarm is sounded and as soon as the roll call is completed, a PDF report can be generated with a rundown of how long the evacuation took. Sign In App director Dan Harding said: “Staff and visitor management processes are often met with complacency, but when you factor in first impressions for guests, the overall experience for employees, as well as the crucial health and safety element, businesses need to reassess their strategy. Simple, affordable technology solutions can enable businesses to put appropriate safeguards and enhancements in place for a safer and more streamlined visitor and staff experience.”

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