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Thu 4th Oct 2018 - Ei Group unveils new managed joint venture, sector's post-Brexit concern over food and drink price rises
Ei Group unveils Vixen Pubs as 11th managed joint venture: Ei Managed Investments, the Ei Group business that invests alongside industry-leading managed house operators, has launched its 11th venture, Vixen Pubs, a partnership with Helen Standing and Elizabeth Davies. Vixen Pubs will offer “great food and smart accommodation”, with the first two sites, The New Inn Hotel in Clapham, near Settle, Lancaster, and the Wheatsheaf in Corbridge, Northumberland, to open shortly. Future Vixen sites will also be based in the north of England. Standing has worked with and developed Craft Union, an Ei Group Managed Operations business, from its conception in 2015. She said: “Having worked closely with Craft Union, I’m delighted to partner with Ei Group’s Managed Investments business. I look forward to opening our first two sites and growing Vixen Pubs in the north of England.” Ei Managed Investments operations director Nathan Wall added: “We are thrilled to be working directly with Helen and Elizabeth, drawing on their experience from many successful years in the pub industry where they have been instrumental in creating great pub businesses.” Managed Investments has grown rapidly since its launch in May 2015. Vixen Pubs will be Ei Managed Investments’ 11th partner following Ei Group and Oakman Inns and Restaurants ending their Hunky Dory partnership, as exclusively revealed by Propel, the first time one of the joint ventures has ended. Ei Group, which owned 51% of the ordinary share capital of Hunky Dory, which operated two sites, sold its stake to Oakman for an undisclosed sum. Other EI Managed Investments expert partners include Rupert Clevely (Hippo Inns), Karen Jones (Frontier Pubs), and Nick Pring and Malcolm Heap (Urban Pubs and Bars Two).

Sector expresses concern over post-Brexit rise in food and drink prices: The hospitality sector harbours widespread concerns about the impact on food and drink prices once the UK leaves the EU next year, according to a survey of industry supply chain leaders by Prestige Purchasing. The survey, which collated more than 40 responses from operators with a combined turnover exceeding £58.5bn, showed operators fear that changes to import tariffs and migrant labour restrictions plus a weakening pound would have a greater negative impact on their food and drink supply than all other factors, including climate change. While high levels of concern were expressed about product availability and quality, there was a particular focus regarding possible impacts on food and drink prices and the cost of distribution, with more than 80% “highly” or “critically” concerned. Almost three-quarters (73%) of respondents felt leaving the EU without an agreement would have negative supply consequences, while two-thirds (67%) said cancelling or indefinitely delaying Brexit would lead to positive outcomes. Prestige Purchasing chairman David Read said: “This survey shows the deep level of concern about Brexit felt by supply chain professionals within many of the large and well-established catering businesses in the UK, most of which are household names. Since the referendum outcome in 2016 the CGA Prestige Foodservice Price Index has shown 11% food and drink inflation, mainly due to the slump in the value of sterling. While many operators have taken action to mitigate some of the negative outcomes, the level of complexity and uncertainty involved may well result in large price increases after March 2019.”

Prime minister’s pledge to back business requires more ‘coherent approach’ starting with tourism sector deal: A more “coherent approach” to supporting companies is required if Theresa May’s claims her government is “backing business” are to gain credence, UKHospitality has said, starting with a tourism sector deal. Reacting to the prime minister’s headline speech at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, the trade body called for a “co-ordinated relationship” between government and the hospitality sector, a “comprehensive package of support” in the Budget and an “end to mixed messages”. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The prime minister said she backs businesses but earlier this week announced an immigration policy that will restrict the flow of workers and tipping legislation that will only place further burdens on employers. It is time for a co-ordinated, positive relationship between government and the hospitality sector, starting with a tourism sector deal. The prime minister rightly stated raising taxes stifles investment. We are calling on her government to bring forward a comprehensive package of support at the Budget, including tax reforms to ensure digital businesses pay their fair share and crippling burdens on hospitality employers are eased. We are receiving mixed messages – a declaration of support for businesses yet a simultaneous imposition of restrictions on employers. A more coherent approach to supporting businesses is needed if claims the government is ‘backing business’ are to gain credence.”

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