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Fri 19th Oct 2018 - Update: Bella Italia launches retail range, new Vapiano CEO, hospitality firms 'scared for future'
Bella Italia launches retail range: Bella Italia, which is owned by Casual Dining Group, has launched its first retail range following a partnership with Tesco. The frozen ready meal range includes starters, mains and desserts, with all dishes having appeared on Bella Italia’s a la carte menu. The dishes were chosen and refined following cook-offs and stringent tests. Wherever possible, the dishes use ingredients from the same suppliers as those served in Bella Italia’s restaurants. Casual Dining Group chief operating officer James Spragg said: “We are delighted to partner with Tesco to bring an authentic taste of Italy to homes across the UK. We’re restaurant operators at heart with a rich heritage but we also have a wealth of experience that can be utilised to tap into other markets such as retail. As well as focusing on menu innovation and creating exceptional dining experiences, we’re also determined to evolve and find new ways to capitalise on our expertise and experience. We are immensely proud of our Bella brand and the progress we have made on menu innovation, championing authentic and healthy flavours and produce. We are confident the rigorous testing and quality control measures we have put in place with Tesco will guarantee an end product we’re both proud of.” A Tesco spokesman added: “Bella Italia ready meals on Tesco shelves is great news for our customers. It makes it easier than ever to get the fabulous flavours of Italy on the dinner table.” The range is available in Tesco stores across the UK.

Vapiano UK appoints Roberto Moretti as chief executive, Phil Sermon leaves: Roberto Moretti has been appointed chief executive of Vapiano UK. South African Moretti has extensive experience in the hospitality sector, starting in his home city of Cape Town followed by ten years at Zizzi in the UK, where he left as operations director to join restaurant group Bill’s as managing director. Moretti was most recently contract managing director at Coco Di Mama. He begins his new role at Vapiano on Tuesday (23 October), taking the reins from outgoing managing director Phil Sermon, who has been in the role since January 2012 and is leaving to pursue a new business venture. Moretti said: “I am excited to join the team at Vapiano UK. The group is renowned for serving truly fresh food made daily on-site. The restaurants are in prominent spots around the UK and offer a relaxed dining environment where food is made to order in front of you by a personal chef. Vapiano’s first restaurant in Great Portland Street celebrates its tenth anniversary this year and is still serving upwards of 10,000 guests a week, which is an incredible achievement in what is a really competitive and challenging environment. It’s an exciting time for Vapiano and I’m really looking forward to building on the group’s achievements to date and to further develop and enhance the brand.” Vapiano will open its One Tower Bridge restaurant on Friday, 26 October, followed by further confirmed London sites – at Centre Point in Tottenham Court Road in late 2018 and Canary Wharf in early 2019. Vapiano currently operates six UK sites – three in London and one each in Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Nick Varney – hospitality businesses are ‘scared for the future’: UKHospitality chairman and Merlin Entertainments chief executive Nick Varney has said hospitality businesses are “scared for the future” as a storm brews due to “crippling” tax and business rate policies. Writing in The Sun, Varney called for a cut in tourism VAT to 5%, a new tax on digital operators, and a doubling to £12,000 of the national insurance threshold at which companies contribute. He said: “Despite a boom in staycations and a record year for the number of tourists visiting from abroad, those in the leisure and hospitality industries are scared for the future. There is a storm brewing because of tax and business rate policies that cripple home-grown businesses while barely touching Silicon Valley behemoths such as Airbnb and Bookings.com. Now the leisure industry is threatened – and with it a huge part of the UK’s economy and prosperity. With little margin to cut prices, leisure, retail and hospitality businesses of all sizes face an increasingly uncertain future. Our contribution is not valued and our government’s policies are not helping us. A major cause of this is business rates spiralling upwards. At the very least, a new tax on digital operators is needed to help level the playing field. A cut (in tourism VAT) to 5% would generate £5.3bn in extra tax over ten years for the government because of the expansion it would create. Crucially, this expansion would also provide an additional 130,000 jobs. As more businesses are seeking to cut costs to meet these external challenges created by ill-considered policy, we run a real risk that any economic downturn will mean a return to significant youth unemployment. By doubling the national insurance threshold at which companies contribute to £12,000, it would free up funds to develop important skills for those starting out in their careers and enable employers to pay them more. Hospitality in the UK needs a sector deal that allows it to compete fairly with both digital and Europe, and helps secure Britain as a great destination for all.”

Greene King wins recruitment programme award: Brewer and retailer Greene King has been recognised for its work with young people by winning the recruitment programme of the year category at this year’s UK Social Mobility Awards. The awards, organised by Making The Leap, were launched last year and recognise businesses that develop new methods to encourage and advance social mobility strategies and conversations in the UK. Greene King partnered with The Prince’s Trust in 2016 and has so far supported almost 240 young people from typically disadvantaged backgrounds. Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand said: “Pubs play an important role in the heart of a community and there is great scope for pubs to support disadvantaged and unrepresented people within their local area. Our work with The Prince’s Trust through our Get Into Hospitality programme aims to support this, helping provide unemployed young people with the confidence and skills to move into the workplace and our apprenticeship scheme, and then continuing to develop their career with us.”

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