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Wed 3rd Oct 2018 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Ei Group and Oakman Inns end Hunky Dory partnership, first time managed joint venture finishes: Ei Group and Oakman Inns and Restaurants have ended their Hunky Dory Pubs partnership, Propel has learned. It is the first time an Ei Group managed investments joint venture has ended since the format was launched in 2015. Ei Group, which owned 51% of the ordinary share capital of Hunky Dory, has sold its stake to Oakman Inns and Restaurants, which is led by Peter Borg-Neal, for an undisclosed sum. The partnership, formed in May 2016, operated two sites – The Beech House in Solihull, which opened in August 2016 and The Four Alls in Welford-on-Avon, near Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire – following a £1.9m redevelopment. The stewardship of the two pubs will be taken over by Ei Group’s commercial properties division with Oakman Inns holding the leases. James Croft, group strategy and retail director for Ei Group, said: “We have enjoyed a successful business relationship with Peter and the team over the period. We have delivered outstanding returns for our business and this sale is an excellent outcome for both parties. Our commercial properties business unit will now take over the stewardship of these two outstanding pubs, which are invested to a high standard and both let on long-term commercial leases.” Borg-Neal added: “We have worked closely with Ei Group in creating two fantastic and fully invested pubs which have delivered a superb return on investment for their investors. They are now let on strong covenants and providing far higher rents than were achieved under previous income models, and I believe Ei Group should be immensely proud of its innovative partnership strategy. Ei Group has also recognised that for Oakman to continue its development and to reach corporate maturity we need a simplified estate structure that melds effortlessly with our current plans. It speaks volumes for our partnership it has readily helped us achieve those aims. We have enjoyed working with its exceptional team, and very much hope we will be working together again in the future.” Hunky Dory Pubs reported sales of £3,002,104 in the period to 30 September 2017. It made an operating loss of £135,821 and a loss before tax of £193,041. Ei Group now operates ten managed joint ventures. Its latest is with Urban Pubs & Bars, founded by Nick Pring and Malcolm Heap.

Industry News:

Last chance to book today for Bar and Nightclub Conference: This is the last chance to book for the Bar and Nightclub Conference, organised by UKHospitality and Propel. The event takes place on Monday (8 October) at Bafta, Piccadilly. Speakers will be Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, chair of the Mayor’s Night-time Commission and a panel member of the government's cultural cities inquiry; Karl Chessell, who heads CGA’s retailer business unit; Simon Potts, managing director of award-winning bar and restaurant brand The Alchemist; Toby Smith, chief executive of Novus; Alan Lorrimer, founder and managing director of House of Song; Charlie Gilkes, founder of Inception Group; Andrew Stones, managing director of cocktail bar brand Be At One; and leading licensing barrister Sarah Clover. Meanwhile, Nicholls will talk to Tokyo Industries founder Aaron Mellor, Richard Hamlin of First Merchant, Peter Marks of Deltic Group, Tom Kidd of Adventure Bars and Lord Smith about the current trading and regulatory landscape in the late-night market. Bookings will close on Wednesday (3 October). Tickets are £139 plus VAT for operators who are UKHospitality members and £195 plus VAT for non-UKHospitality members. Supplier tickets are £185 plus VAT for UKHospitality members and £285 plus VAT for non-UKHospitality members. To book tickets, email Anne Steele at

StreetDots brings street food to London’s transport network with TfL partnership: Street trading platform StreetDots has partnered with Transport for London (TfL) to give operators the opportunity to trade at transport hubs across the capital. The project enables customers to buy street food and coffee and will later offer them the opportunity to purchase gifts, flowers and grab-and-go fresh produce from mobile retailers. Pitches or “dots” are open at several locations, including Hammersmith tube and bus station and Waterloo bus station. The partnership aims to liberate traders from the hassle involved in finding a pitch while introducing customers to new brands. Traders use a smartphone app to choose a “dot” for a few hours at a time. Operators taking advantage of the partnership include mobile coffee shop Café Bueno and Zip And Zing Juices, which sells organic smoothies and slow-pressed juice. StreetDots co-founder Atholl Milton said: “Since we opened our first dot in 2014, the StreetDots network has helped more than 300 street food traders tour their trucks, vans and stalls around London, collecting new customers in each area they visit. The partnership with TfL means we can give these mobile businesses an even wider choice of locations, while introducing the millions of commuters who pass through TfL stations every day to new brands selling original products.” TfL director of commercial development Graeme Craig added: “More than 90% of our tenants are small or independent businesses. Working with StreetDots, we will give more people the opportunity to try out their new business ideas in a simple and cost-effective way at locations across London. It is another great example of how we are supporting small businesses alongside generating vital revenue to reinvest in the transport network.”

Post-Brexit immigration policy ‘will not work’ for hospitality sector: The government’s proposed post-Brexit immigration system that prioritises high-skilled migrants would “not work” for the hospitality sector, UKHospitality has warned. The move followed prime minister Theresa May’s announcement at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham there would be “no preferential treatment” for EU immigrants following Brexit. However, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls called for a transition period to give businesses time to adapt. She said: “A system based solely on high skills and high wages will not work for hospitality, where we have labour shortages. The sector employs more than three million people, many of whom are migrant workers, but under the new policy 90% of these roles could not be filled. Many hospitality businesses have struggled to find willing British workers and, with changing demographics and low unemployment, we are facing the very real danger of chronic skills shortages. Operators will be rightly concerned about the potential for increased red tape and bureaucracy for job applicants and there needs to be a transition period to give time for businesses to adapt. UKHospitality has repeatedly flagged it is illogical to place so much emphasis on the economic worth of individuals rather than the wider benefits they bring to the UK. We will be pressing the government for a sensible and pragmatic lower-skilled migrant worker route for the hospitality sector.”

Technomic parent company Winsight partners with National Restaurant Association: US-based media, events and information company Winsight, which owns Technomic, has partnered with the National Restaurant Association. The deal will see Winsight assume the operation of the association’s annual Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, while the National Restaurant Association will become an equity partner in Winsight with an advisory seat on the board. Winsight’s Restaurant Business magazine will become the association’s official publication. Winsight chief executive Mike Wood said: “Collaborating with the National Restaurant Association provides a tremendous opportunity. Through products such as Technomic’s company profiles, menu insights and consumer trends, combined with our vast marketing knowledge and audience intelligence platform, we look forward to serving the ever-increasing needs of the industry.”

Industry-led charity Only A Pavement Away partners with StreetSmart: Only A Pavement Away (OAPA), a new industry-led nationwide charity formed to assist the homelessness and ex-service personnel get into hospitality careers, is teaming up with StreetSmart this autumn. StreetSmart raises funds for homeless and vulnerable people in the UK in the run up to Christmas, by adding a voluntary £1 to a diners' bill in all restaurants participating in the StreetSmart scheme during November and December. All funds raised by StreetSmart are donated to reputable homeless charities and OAPA has now been added to the list of charities that can benefit. The official launch of OAPA, which was founded by established industry consultant Greg Mangham and his wife Gill, takes place at the House of Commons on World Homeless Day, which is next Wednesday (10 October).

Company News:

Rob Pitcher – Revolution brand ‘needs to catch up’, Revolución de Cuba sites averaging weekly sales of £50,000: Revolution Bars Group chief executive Rob Pitcher has told Propel its Revolution brand “needs to catch up”. The company has outlined a number of initiatives that are being put in place for its core brand, including extending delivery and “Instagrammable entertainment”. Pitcher said Revolución de Cuba was generating average weekly sales per site of £50,000 and added he was confident the changes being put in place for Revolution would mean a very different set of results for the company this financial year. He said: “Management has been tied up with other things and distracted (by the takeover and merger proposals last year) and our Revolution brand needs to catch up. I’m confident these new initiatives will allow us to do that. If Revolución de Cuba was a standalone business I’m convinced it would get more credit. The estate is growing 23% a year in size and we are generating average weekly sales per site of £50,000.” Pitcher, who arrived at the company from Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) just before the year-end, said delivery was only available through Deliveroo at a handful of its Revolution sites and it would be extending that partnership. He added: “This is just the way the market is going. Given I’ve just come from M&B, I’ve seen the power of delivery and our revenue numbers on that score are nowhere near where they should be. Up to now we’ve also had a limited menu available.” The company has also launched its first food menu in 12 months, which has brought a “new theatre” including burgers served under cloches filled with smoke. It is also introducing Instagrammable entertainment as it looks to once again be the “place to be on a Friday or Saturday night”. Pitcher said: “We sent a team out to Ibiza and New York to have a look at what is happening in those places. People want experiences – you can’t just put on a DJ and expect to win in the market place – so we’re introducing things such as table magicians and ball pools – the sorts of things people want to share and post photos of on Instagram. We’re trialling this type of entertainment at three sites across the country.” Revolution Bars Group is also in the process of introducing direct online booking that it will begin rolling out “this side of Christmas” as part of a move to improve digital services. Pitcher said he expected the company to open “four or five” sites in the current financial year – in line with targets. The company will open Revolución de Cuba sites in Bristol and Huddersfield and a Revolution in Durham by November with “perhaps a couple more” following in the second half of its current financial year. Pitcher added: “While this year’s results might have been disappointing, I am confident it will be a better picture in 12 months’ time.”

Carlsberg UK reports turnover dip as on-trade volumes fall 2.4%: Carlsberg UK saw turnover drop £17.2m in its most recent year as it lost market share in the on-trade. The Danish-owned company, which has its UK headquarters in Northampton, saw turnover fall to £456,167,000 for the year ending 31 December 2017, compared with £473,388,000 the previous year. Pre-tax losses narrowed to £8,927,000 compared with £10,756,000, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Carlsberg UK said during 2017 the market returned to growth following a long-term trend of marginal decline, ending the year 0.7% up on the prior year. The growth was driven by the off-trade with volumes increasing by 3.6%, while demand in the on-trade continued to fall, by 2.4%. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The market continued to fragment with a shift towards premium beers within the world and craft categories, which continued to outperform the beer market as a whole. The standard lager market shrank 5.9% in the year, with declines in both the on and off-trade; the premium beer category remained in line with prior years. Although only accounting for a small percentage of overall volume, craft is returning high levels of growth, achieving a 24% year-on-year increase. Within Carlsberg UK, the volume development in the off-trade was down 5% compared with last year with standard lager being the major contributor. Carlsberg Pilsner is our main brand in this segment. The relative exposure of the Carlsberg Pilsner brand in the on-trade resulted in a more significant decrease than the market decline (6.3% versus 2.4%) with a greater impact in the national on-trade than the independent free trade. A major review of the Carlsberg brand is under way, with the first element of this being the relaunch of Carlsberg Export in April 2017, delivering some encouraging initial results. In terms of our existing portfolio the San Miguel brand continues to grow and our Italian Poretti brand is beginning to secure volume traction. This is very much supported within the on-trade via the roll-out of our DraughtMaster dispense innovation.” Carlsberg employs more than 400 people in the UK.

Seafood Pub Company agrees new banking covenants after breach, directors confident of turning round £10m net liability position: Seafood Pub Company has agreed new banking covenants this year after a breach while its directors are confident of turning around its net current liabilities, which have jumped to £10m. The company, which operates 11 sites, said the bank agreed to waive the breach following talks while its investors have indicated further funds would be available if needed. It has also strengthened the management team, which has resulted in a “very positive response” in 2018 with the directors confident this will translate into profits and “turn around the net liability position”. The breach was revealed in Seafood Pub Company’s latest accounts filed at Companies House. Turnover increased to £9,019,651 for the year ending 31 December 2017, compared with £7,154,938 the previous year. Pre-tax losses were up to £172,384, compared with £70,175 the year before. The net current liabilities stood at £10,007,478, compared with £2,469,982 the previous year. In her report accompanying the accounts, managing director Joycelyn Neve stated: “The group has traded well during 2017 with site revenue increasing compared with the previous year. While turnover was up margins tightened and costs increased. There were two openings in 2017. In May we opened The Fleece at Addingham, near Ilkley. This was a Punch leasehold site and in December we acquired the freehold. In August we opened The Inn, at South Stainley, near Harrogate, a freehold site trading as a Fayre and Square/Wacky Warehouse, which is now a destination country inn with rooms. Both sites underwent extensive development work. The openings in 2017 and the growth during the 18 months to December put significant pressure on the business and management and resulted in the business breaching its bank covenants at the year end. This breach was waived by the bank following a short period of negotiation with both the bank and investors, where new covenants were set for 2018. Our accounting losses stem from loan interest and depreciation on our property and fixed asset portfolio. Loan interest is covered comfortably by the site profitability. Despite these accounting losses our Ebitda is healthy and trading this year has been encouraging. We have brought in a new non-executive chairman and recruited a financial controller and director of HR to further support this phase and the creation of an extremely stable base to allow growth through the next stage of expansion. 2018 has seen a very positive response within the business to these changes and directors are confident these will translate into profits, which will turn around the net liability position in the consolidated accounts and generate strong future cash flows. All this has happened with the continued support of our investors, who have indicated that should further funding be required they would be supportive. Overall the directors are confident the offering from Seafood Pub Company is only getting stronger and with the positive response to this year’s investment programme are comfortable of the group’s position as a going concern.” Penta Capital, which has helped grow La Tasca and EAT, bought a majority stake in Seafood Pub Company in July 2016. The private equity firm arranged an £18m funding package to acquire a majority stake in the business and provide funds for expansion.

Hawksmoor reports pre-tax losses narrow as turnover rises 14.1%: Hawksmoor operator Underdog Restaurants has reported turnover rose 14.1% to £43,744,000 for the year ending 31 December 2017, compared with £39,014,000 the previous year. Underlying Ebitda fell slightly to £4,839,000, compared with £4,850,000 the year before. Pre-tax losses narrowed to £7,543,000 compared with £8,981,000 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Hawksmoor has accumulated losses since incorporation of £33,949,000, up from £26,179,000 the year before, and negative shareholders’ funds of £32,960,000 compared with £25,201,000 the previous year. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “Hawksmoor increased turnover by 14.1% in the year, driven by like-for-like sales growth and the opening of a new restaurant in Borough Market, London. Hawksmoor Ebitda increased to £5,549,000 in the year (2016: £5,352,000). The Foxlow restaurants underwent significant brand and operational changes during 2017 and, although they have yet to contribute positively to the group, their like-for-like sales grew strongly in the second half of the year and into the beginning of 2018. The directors are confident about the future prospects of the group.”

Hippo Inns to open alpine-themed pub in Blackfriars for 12th site: Hippo Inns, the joint venture between Ei Group and Geronimo Inns founder Rupert Clevely, will open its 12th site in November. The company will launch The White Haus in Farringdon Street, Blackfriars. The 3,800 square foot, 160-cover pub sits on the site of the former White Swan pub and will be an alpine-themed venue. The interiors will take inspiration from the mountains of Val D’Isére and chalets of Verbier with exposed wood, a fireplace and cuckoo clocks, while vintage ski memorabilia has been donated by the Ski Club of Great Britain, from whose former headquarters the pub takes its name. The three-storey building will feature a ground-floor bar offering tank 1936 Biere – a lager brewed in the Swiss Alps – and a 40-cover mezzanine level complete with a retro cable car doubling as a pre-bookable private booth. On the lower-ground floor, a wooden-clad “chalet” will offer two flexible private dining rooms for up to 60 people, while a small terrace will accommodate 12. The all-day menu will offer pub favourites with a European twist such as chicken schnitzel with fried egg and anchovies; and Haus breakfast with smoked pork loin and bratwurst. There will also be cocktails and wine. Clevely said: “The White Haus combines a passion for pubs and the thrill of the mountains. We’ve been incredibly lucky to have the support of the Ski Club of Great Britain – its range of memorabilia gives the pub a unique ambience, transporting drinkers and diners to the slopes without leaving the capital.” Ski Club of Great Britain chief executive Darren Neylon added: “We plan to host a series of social activities to ensure The White Haus resonates with our members and all those with a passion for snowsports.” Ei Group managed investments operations director Nathan Wall said: “We are delighted Hippo Inns continues to grow and develop – the exciting features and design will bring something new to the city.”

Hubbox eyes 20-strong estate by 2021: West Country better burger brand Hubbox, which will open its seventh site on Friday (5 October) in Taunton, has said it plans to expand its portfolio to between 18 and 20 sites by the end of 2021 while making improvements to its existing estate. Deals have already been agreed on four sites, with a restaurant in Barnstaple, Devon, expected to open in the first half of 2019. The group also revealed it would move its Exeter business to much larger premises next month having taken on a former Rum And Crab Shack site in Catherine Street. The new site will comprise an 80-cover bar and dining area on the ground floor and a 70-cover dining area on the floor above. There will also be a 44-cover roof terrace. Hubbox will also upsize its flagship site in St Ives, Cornwall, early next year after the company acquired a neighbouring restaurant. The enlarged St Ives site will feature separate bar and dining areas and an increase in covers to 220. Hubbox founder and chief executive Richard Boon said: “We have pipelined some fantastic sites that will include great bars featuring beer and cider from some of the south west’s finest breweries. Our goal is to bring some of Cornwall’s beach barbecue vibe and our relaxed attitude to the south west and beyond.”

Cubitt House reports turnover dip following roadworks and refurbishments: Five-strong London gastro-pub operator Cubitt House, whose sites include The Alfred Tennyson and Thomas Cubitt, has reported turnover fell to £10,268,306 for the year ending 31 December 2017, compared with £10,621,481 the previous year. The company had a pre-tax loss of £453,272, compared with a profit of £476,252 the year before. The most recent year saw the exceptional administrative expense drop to £69,170. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “These results reflect a 3% decline in sales predominantly as a result of disruptive roadworks and closure for refurbishment at The Alfred Tennyson. Operating loss in 2017 is mainly as a result of the additional depreciation on lease revaluation together with increases in property and labour costs. In addition to the refurbishment at The Alfred Tennyson, which reopened in September 2017, The Coach Makers Arms acquired in September underwent a total renovation and reopened in December 2017.”

Vapiano confirms trio of openings to double London portfolio: Vapiano has confirmed a trio of openings in London to double its portfolio in the capital. The company will open the first site at the new One Tower Bridge development on Friday, 26 October. Featuring 361 covers and split over two floors, Vapiano Tower Bridge will feature a standalone bar and offer views of the Thames, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. It will feature 100-year-old olive trees, with live herb pots on every table so guests can freshly season their meals. Vapiano has also confirmed sites will open in Tottenham Court Road – within the new Centre Point development – and in Canary Wharf in early 2019. Vapiano currently operates six UK sites – three in London and one each in Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Cookie dough concept reports 125% turnover growth as it opens third site, in Camden: Cookie dough concept Naked Dough has opened its third site, in The Stables at Camden Market, taking its headcount to 20 staff. The concept is the brainchild of Jen Henry and Hannah Adams, who graduated from NatWest’s Entrepreneur Accelerator Programme. Since graduating in February, the business has grown 125% with turnover of £500,000 a year. Following a number of pop-ups, the pair secured funding from NatWest to launch two permanent stores – at Westfield London and Lakeside shopping centres. Naked Dough offers eight flavours of cookie dough, including the Nak-Ed Sheeran (salted caramel and honeycomb), alongside freakshakes and ice cream. Henry said: “The positive feedback from customers has been amazing. Our plan is to build on this success and the dream would be to have a Naked Dough in every major UK city.”

Fledgling firm partners with MasterChef runner-up to turn Hampshire hotel into fine dining venue: Fledgling firm GA Gourmet has partnered with MasterChef runner-up Greg Emmerson to transform a boutique hotel in Hampshire into a fine dining restaurant called Table 22. The company has acquired the leasehold of Old House Hotel in Wickham from bed and breakfast operator B+B Wickham for a sum thought to be in the region of £150,000. GA Gourmet will invest about £250,000 to refurbish the period property. Table 22 will offer breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner to residents and non-residents, while the 12-bedroom hotel will operate under its former name, The Old House Hotel. GA Gourmet owner Andy Goodson said: “I ran a successful property business for 23 years and was looking for a new venture. I’m partnering with my daughter, Gemma Goodson, and Greg Emmerson to run the business. Our goal is to make it the most popular hotel in the area coupled with a superb fine dining restaurant.” Chris Bickle, licensed leisure director at Savills, which brokered the deal, added: “There is strong demand for quality rooms and good food in this area of Hampshire.” B+B Wickham operates four other bed and breakfasts and restaurants in London, Weymouth, York and Edinburgh under the B+B collection.

Nottingham-based operator eyes third site with Star Pubs & Bars: Nottingham-based operator Anthony Dowling has said he could look to add a third pub to his portfolio with Star Pubs & Bars. Dowling is currently refurbishing his second Star Pubs & Bars site – Finnbars in Sherwood – after transforming The Mill & Brook in Long Eaton last year. Irish sports bar Finnbars will become kitchen and bar The Crafty Teller following a £225,000 investment. The venue will include a live moss wall, bookable booths and “selfie walls”, while the bar will be moved to incorporate a deli counter and cocktail bar, with 70 covers created. Food will be introduced including breakfast and brunch. Dowling said: “Having had such a positive experience working with Star on the refurbishment of The Mill & Brook, I was keen to do the same to Finnbars. My focus will be on that for the time being but I might look to add a third bar to my portfolio.” Star Pubs & Bars regional operations director Alun Johnson added: “Anthony has done a fantastic job at The Mill & Brook, increasing turnover tenfold.”

City Pub Group to open third Brighton site next month: City Pub Group will open its third site in Brighton at the end of November. The company is currently refurbishing the former Alfresco Italian restaurant and bar on the seafront, which it acquired in August from Colasurdo family. The venue will reopen as Brighton Beach Club, reports The Argus. Last month, City Pub Group executive chairman Clive Watson told Propel he now expects the company to hit its estate size target of between 60 to 70 sites more than a year earlier than the target of 2021 it set when it floated last year. The company currently has 44 sites open and Watson said the company now expected to hit 65 sites by the first quarter of 2020. Its other two sites in Brighton are the Lion & Lobster in Silwood Street and the Walrus in Ship Street.

Brothers reports pre-tax losses narrow as turnover hits £25m: Cider-maker Brothers Drinks Co has reported turnover increased to £25,164,280 for the year ending 31 December 2017, compared with £16,064,146 the year before. The family-run company, now in its 14th generation, saw pre-tax losses, excluding exceptional items and revaluations, of £1,816,543 compared with £2,507,054 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The directors consider in light of prevailing economic and market conditions the results for the period and the prospects for the future are satisfactory. The company strategy for the coming year is to increase shareholder value through improving productivity and increasing output.” The number of employees during the period rose to 185 from 127 the previous year.

Ivy Collection to open Canary Wharf site this month: The Ivy Collection is to open its latest site, in London’s Canary Wharf this month. The Ivy In The Park will open overlooking the green in Canada Square on Tuesday, 16 October. The all-day brasserie will open seven days a week with room for almost 150 diners and two large terraces. The Ivy brand is expanding rapidly with recent brasserie openings in Leeds, Birmingham, Cheltenham, Guildford, York and King’s Cross and further launches lined up for Norwich and Winchester. In July it opened its first site outside the UK, in Dublin.

North Brewing Co to launch debut off-site taproom in Leeds next month: Leeds-based brewer North Brewing Co is to launch its debut off-site taproom next month. The venue will open in Leeds city centre at the corner of Swinegate and Sovereign Street showcasing the brewery’s own products alongside craft beer from around the world. The 1,200 square foot venue will also house local street food business Little Bao Boy, which will provide the food offering. North Brewing Co founder and director John Gyngell told Insider Media: “We cannot wait to have a North Brewing Co taproom open seven days a week. Our opening hours at our current tap are restricted by it being a working brewery so this new space will give us real scope to introduce new people to our beer.” James Ooi, founder and director of Little Bao Boy, added: “Working with North Brewing Co in its new city centre taproom is a fantastic opportunity. They have championed us from day one, inviting us to trade at their Eat North street food fair, hold pop-ups in their bar and catering private functions at the brewery. Having a full-time outlet is going to give us the space to develop new dishes.” The build will begin this month, with doors set to open at the end of November.

Sager + Wilde team reveals more details of canteen concept to open in Old Street next month: Marcis Dzelzainis and Michael Sager, of London-based bar restaurant group Sager + Wilde, are to launch an all-day dining bar and canteen concept in Old Street, east London. Fare Bar + Canteen will open in the Morelands building next month as a multifunctional space split across two floors. The venue will offer a grab-and-go coffee area, cocktail and wine bar, and a restaurant offering modern seasonal small plates with larger sharing dishes from a robata grill. The ground-floor bar and canteen will feature floor-to-ceiling windows, a horseshoe marble dining counter, and an open-plan kitchen while offering natural wine and cocktails on tap. The coffee space on the ground floor will be overseen by Assembly, which has created bespoke house roasts. Downstairs, the bar and dining area will feature a glass skylight, parquet floors and white pillars. The bar menu will include a 250-strong Sager + Wilde wine list alongside cocktails. Head chef Thomas Raymond, formerly at Ellory, will create a menu inspired by his British roots and travels around the Mediterranean. In June, Dzelzainis and Sager took over the Bassoon Bar at the Corinthia Hotel in Whitehall, while Sager + Wilde also operates restaurant Paradise Row and wine bar Hackney Road, both named after the streets they are located in.

Chinatown restaurants dish out the dumplings: Seven restaurants in Chinatown London took part in National Dumpling Day. The participating venues were Rasa Sayang (Malaysian), Olle (Korean), Haozhan (Cantonese), New China (Chinese), Plum Valley (Cantonese), Ichibuns (Japanese) and Viet Food (Vietnamese). The venues handed out more than 1,800 free dumplings to visitors lunching in Chinatown. The campaign aims to showcase Chinatown London’s melting pot of culinary diversity. Julia Wilkinson, head of group restaurant strategy at landlord Shaftesbury, said: “The campaign showcased the vast array of east Asian flavours available in Chinatown London, from Vietnamese to Korean, and gave our visitors the chance to sample how the destination has one of the best food offerings in the West End.”

Greene King becomes exclusive distributor for Estrella Galicia: Brewer and retailer Greene King has entered into a partnership with Hijos de Rivera SAU to become the exclusive distribution partner for the Spanish brewer’s Estrella Galicia and 1906 beers in the UK. The agreement, which comes into effect this month, covers the Estrella Galicia brand, no alcohol beer Estrella Galicia 0.0, Estrella Galicia Gluten Free, 1906 Reserva Especial and 1906 Black Coupage. The lagers will be available across the on and off-trade in keg, bottles and cans. Hijos de Rivera SAU is the largest independent brewery in Spain dating to 1906. It brews 2,790,000 hectolitres a year from its historic brewery in A Coruña. Estrella Galicia is its core brand and Spain’s fourth-largest beer brand. Greene King Brewing & Brands managing director Matt Starbuck said: “Like Greene King, Hijos de Rivera SAU is steeped in brewing history dating back generations. We share similar values, placing importance on using the best-quality ingredients, producing great beer and delivering exceptional customer service. Hijos de Rivera SAU has a fantastic stable of beers in its brand portfolio.” Meanwhile, Belhaven Brewery, which is owned by Greene King, has seen its Twisted Grapefruit IPA named beer of the year 2018 at the annual Scottish Beer Awards.

George Bateman introduces new staff incentive: Lincolnshire brewer and retailer George Bateman has introduced a new staff incentive. The company will fly 12 staff, one from each department, to Amsterdam as a thank you for their efforts. The trip forms part of the company’s celebrations to mark the centenary of its wine and spirits merchants. Batemans invited customers, dignitaries, staff and suppliers to the Wainfleet-based brewery’s visitors’ centre to celebrate the 100th anniversary of JE Ridlington Wine Merchants, which was welcomed into the family business in 1918. It was purchased at the time by managing director Stuart Bateman’s grandfather, Harry Bateman. Stuart Bateman said: “It was Harry’s dream to provide the best pubs’ drinks service and ‘one-stop shop’ in Lincolnshire. He wanted to provide his brewery customers with quality wine and spirits along with a superior service and choice, delivered by experts.” The new staff incentive scheme also saw 14 employees taken to Malaga earlier this year. Batemans is also taking steps to improve sustainability through its key casks. A “baler” has been installed that enables the brewery to offer a free collecting, compacting and recycling service to customers.

Tesco Hospitality wins national cafe chain of the year award: Tesco Hospitality has been named national cafe chain of the year in the UK Foodservice Quality Food Awards for the second year running. Tesco managing director for hospitality Adam Martin said: “I want to thank my team for all their enthusiasm, energy and determination. I am very proud to be part of such a strong team.”

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