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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 20th Jun 2023 - Update: JD Wetherspoon, Japes, Hostmore and returnable coffee cups
JD Wetherspoon boss warns Brits to prepare for £8 pints, ‘no limits’ on prices during cost-of-living crisis: JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin has warned Brits that the price of a pint will “quite probably” hit £8 and said there’s “no limit” on how high it could go in the cost-of-living crisis. Asked about the prospect of an £8 pint in an interview with radio station LBC, Martin said: “There are certainly some pubs that do that, and it’s gone up more than you would imagine. Around the country – I go around the country visiting pubs and talking to our pub managers – whereas it’s not a fiver in our pubs, it’s a fiver in a lot of pubs from Penzance to Wick at the moment. So yeah, the price has gone up a hell of a lot. Will it go to eight quid? Quite probably, if things go on as they are.” Asked if that could one day rise to £10, Martin replied that “there is no limit”. Several breweries are reportedly watering down beer in order to save on costs and qualify for a tax break, in what Martin said is a “crazy move.” He said: “Everybody at the moment, one way or another, is struggling with inflation and rising prices, and some of the big breweries are diluting the alcohol content with their beers to avoid these charges, these extra charges. It’s financed by tax, because if you bring beer down to 3.4%, which is much lower than almost any beer you’d ever buy in a pub, you get a big tax break on the basis of the incredibly stupid reasoning that people will drink less alcohol if they drink weak beer. That’s just not the way people are. So, I think it’s a bad idea. Brewers have jumped on the bandwagon, they can’t resist the 25p tax break, but we are going to try and avoid doing it. Well, we might have, but we want the proper strength beers.”
Latest UK Food & Beverage Franchisor Database to feature 210 companies, released tomorrow: The UK Food & Beverage Franchisor Database will feature 210 companies when it is sent to Premium subscribers tomorrow (Wednesday, 21 June). Among them are third-generation family fish and chip business Beks, independent piri piri and grilled chicken QSR brand Rooster Shack, and Dutch vegan junk food concept Vegan Junk Food Bar. The database, which is an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK, is updated every two months. Premium subscribers also receive access to four other databases: the Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate; the New Openings Database; the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book; and the Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £995 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £495 plus VAT for operators and £595 plus VAT for suppliers. Email to upgrade your subscription. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel group editor Mark Wingett.

Japes prepares for regional roll-out following strong current trading, first franchise site secured: Deep dish pizza concept Japes is preparing for a regional roll-out following strong current trading and has secured its first franchise site, Propel has learned. The business, founded by Aleksandar and Jovana Aleksic, opened its debut site, in London’s Soho, in 2018. This was followed by a second site, in Greenwich, south east London, earlier this year. It has now partnered with food franchising company Seeds Consulting to explore expansion outside of the capital. Turnover at the Soho location is so far up 25% versus 2022, while the newly opened Greenwich site is already “very profitable” and growing by an average 8% month-on-month. Aleksic said: “A strong start in Greenwich has opened our eyes about the potential that our brand has in London and further afield. Our newly introduced London-style pizza was very well received by our loyal customers, thus further increasing their number of visits and positively impacting our brand reputation and turnover. As a result, we looked at the franchise model and found our brand really suited to it as we have high margin products, our operation is totally de-skilled and our restaurants are relatively cheap to build. Both our Chicago and London-style pizzas are made using fresh quality ingredients and our unique recipes. In the back setup, our operations and layout are closer to well established brands such as Domino’s. We have not yet started to market the franchise and we already have a qualified partner on board who will open our first franchise site in south-west London this autumn. We are not lacking expressions of interest, but our philosophy is about being selective with both franchise partners and properties.” Seeds Consulting managing director Matteo Frigeri added: “It is exciting to represent such a compelling opportunity in the established food franchise pizza market. I can see all franchise groups that do not have pizza in their portfolio wanting this as the numbers stack up, landlords are keen, franchisor support is there and the potential market is immense.”

Hostmore appoints former Casual Dining Group chief customer officer as independent NED: Hostmore, the owner of the TGI Fridays brand, has appointed former Casual Dining Group (CDG) chief customer officer Célia Pronto as an independent non-executive director. Joining the board with immediate effect, Pronto will become a member of the company’s audit and risk, nominations and remuneration committees. Pronto has more than 25 years’ experience in blue chip listed companies, private equity and venture capital backed start-ups and family-owned businesses. She has worked in subscription model businesses as well as the food manufacturing, restaurants, logistics, travel, hospitality, leisure, fast moving consumer goods, e-commerce, automotive retail and utility sectors. In addition, she has specific expertise in developing digital transformation, innovation and growth strategies in consumer and multi-channel businesses. She is currently a director of South East Water, Samworth Brothers (Holdings), Impact Ventures Group and The Digital Success Co. Pronto stepped down from her role at CDG in January 2020 after four years with the business that operated Café Rouge, Bella Italia and Las Iguanas. She has previously held roles as managing director of Love Home Swap; group marketing and e-commerce director of the Ford Retail Group; and executive director of Power and Mind. Stephen Welker, who became Hostmore chairman earlier this month, said: “On behalf of the board, I am pleased to welcome Célia to Hostmore. Her wealth of experience across multiple sectors, particularly in developing digital transformation, innovation and growth strategies in consumer and multi-channel businesses, will strengthen the board. The directors and I look forward to working with Célia as we continue to focus on the company’s key objectives in the months and years ahead.” Earlier this month, Hostmore reported a 3% decline in like-for-like revenue for the first 22 weeks of the year ended 4 June 2023, with total revenue down 1% in the same period. The business said that like-for-like revenue declined 1% in the first 16 weeks of the year, with total revenue up 2%. It said that like-for-like revenue and total revenue for the first 22 weeks of the year, adjusted for the variance in the VAT rate on food sales between FY22 and FY23, remained “broadly consistent with the revenue performance for the first 16 weeks of the year announced on 28 April 2023”.

Bristol charity launches returnable coffee cup scheme to ‘take single-use cups out of the system in city’: A Bristol environmental charity has launched a returnable coffee cup to help fight pollution and carbon emissions. City to Sea says it has designed the Refill Return Cup to change the way city residents enjoy tea and coffee. George Clark, project manager at City to Sea, told the BBC: “We want this to become the new normal in Bristol.” Customers will be able to borrow and then return the reusable cup from participating coffee shops around the city. The project was launched at Future Leap Café in Bishopston, where people will be able to get a free coffee and pick up one of the reusable cups. They will then be encouraged to return it to participating coffee shops through the Refill app, which directs people to places they can eat, drink and shop with less plastic. Head of development Jane Martin said: “We want this scheme to take single-use cups out of the system in Bristol. This is an exciting project because we all love Bristol’s green spaces, but they are blighted by single-use cups. People should do this because we have a responsibility to reach net zero and reduce greenhouse gases and each less cup that is used helps cut carbon emissions and it will help make sure Bristol is the green lovely city it should be.” The design has been funded by the Bristol firm Ecosurety, which specialises in eco packaging. City to Sea estimates that if the cup was used by just one in ten residents just once a week, then 46,000 single-use cups would be saved across the city every week, adding up to about 2.5 million a year. People will be encouraged to return the 7,000 reusable cups, using the app, to the 11 cafes currently taking part, including University of the West of England and Brewnel’s Coffee Shop at St Michael’s Hospital. It is hoped that the pilot will have as many as 30 participating cafes by the end of October. Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees said: “A year ago, I set City to Sea the challenge of making sure that any solution to plastic pollution is accessible to the whole city and they’re rising to this challenge. This is a one city approach to help make sure that the places we love can stay litter free.”

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