Star Pubs & Bars

Story of the Day:

HIT Training boss – Apprenticeship Levy has its challenges but operators shouldn’t miss out on benefits:

Jill Whittaker, managing Director, HIT TrainingThe Apprenticeship Levy has its challenges but operators shouldn’t miss out on the benefits, HIT Training chief executive Jill Whittaker has said. Latest figures from the Department for Education revealed a 28% drop in new apprenticeship starts between August 2017 and March 2018, compared with the same period last year. Meanwhile, the number of apprenticeship starts in March 2018 was down 52% on the previous year. Whittaker said: “What we’re seeing is, for many hospitality employers the perceived admin involved and apparent effectiveness of the Apprenticeship Levy appear to outweigh the benefits. There is considerable confusion between those employers contributing to the scheme and non-participants. With anything new there are bound to be teething problems and, as such, it’s hardly surprising that according to a report by the Open University, £1.3bn of the cash paid into the fund has yet to be claimed. However, these figures are less dramatic than they first appear as businesses have 24 months to use their levy payments and, understandably, they’re taking their time to get to grips with the scheme and making sure they’re maximising the benefits it provides. The levy has delivered some interesting and unintended consequences, with degree, master and management-level apprenticeships booming (up 594%). While this is great news, many employers are spending their entire levy pot in this area – leaving nothing for entry-level apprenticeships. Training schemes such as apprenticeships are paramount in addressing the labour shortage in the sector that, according to recent research, is predicted to get even more severe with one in ten hospitality workers considering leaving the UK because of Brexit. You get a great deal back from your employees if you invest in their future, yet there are many hospitality businesses with excellent training programmes in place that don’t mention them when looking for new staff. Broadcasting high-quality training programmes is a key component of any recruitment drive and demonstrates an employer cares about their people. As the levy is now in its second year, hospitality businesses need to utilise and maximise their funds. There is no doubt apprenticeships are the go-to solution for employers looking to develop, attract and retain talent, from new starters to senior-level employees.”

The Alchemist secures two new central London sites

The Alchemist general viewThe Alchemist, which is backed by Palatine Private Equity, has secured two new central London sites. The company will add to its Bevis Marks venue in the capital with openings in Covent Garden and Shoreditch. The first venue is set to open in St Martins Lane, Covent Garden, in November. The bar and restaurant will undergo a £1.6m investment and extend over 6,966 square feet, accommodating 72 covers. Following a £1.3m investment, the second venue will open in Old Street, Shoreditch, in March 2019. The new bar and restaurant will span 4,456 square feet and accommodate 76 covers with an outdoor area hosting an additional 28. The sites’ interior design will follow The Alchemist’s trademark “copper-cased wonderland” look, with interiors featuring a palette of amber, copper and red accompanied by unique and gothic artwork. Meanwhile, in keeping with the evolved style of The Alchemist, its Bevis Marks venue will undergo a £280,000 refurbishment, closing on Monday, 6 August before reopening a fortnight later. Managing director Simon Potts said: “We are delighted to finally announce these London venues. It has been a long time coming but we feel incredibly lucky to have secured two fantastic locations. St Martins Lane and Old Street are both vibrant and intriguing areas and offer a fantastically diverse drinking and dining scene. Overall, the locations feel a perfect fit. London is obviously a competitive market but following the success of Bevis Marks, we are confident we can offer a memorable and immersive experience. Customers at our existing site will see a real difference in our offering and design as we aim to elevate our venues with each launch, and these will be no different. We cannot wait to open the doors and put more Alchemist stamps across the city of London.”

Other News:

ETM Group founders Ed and Tom MartinETM Group, the 14-strong bar and restaurant company, is to make its move into transport hubs with a debut train station site next year. The company will launch Redwood, a two-storey pub, next to The Shard at London Bridge. On the ground floor, the 2,000 square foot pub will offer a British brasserie-style menu, while the bar will dispense tank beer from large overhanging copper tanks alongside a large selection of classic wine, botanical cocktails and artisan spirits. Outside, the 54-cover, heated alfresco terrace will offer grab-and-go snacks from a custom-built service hatch, while the mezzanine floor will house a 1,700 square foot sports lounge. Ed Martin (pictured left), co-founder and chief executive of ETM Group, said: “We are excited to bring Redwood to London Bridge and be part of the exciting redevelopment of one of London’s busiest stations. The opening of our pub, restaurant and sports lounge, Greenwood, in Victoria’s Nova development has been a great success and proves there is a huge appetite for experience-led venues that deliver on quality food, drink and sport.” Redwood is opening following the £1bn redevelopment of London Bridge station, which has seen a range of improvements including a huge new concourse, modern facilities, two new entrances in Tooley Street, and 15 fully accessible platforms. It will also see 92,000 square feet of new retail space and more than 70 units – the most in a Network Rail station. ETM Group recently secured £10m funding from HSBC to support its growth plans and in the next 12 months plans to open at least three venues, including Maple at Westfield next month. With a strong pipeline of additional sites in place, ETM Group said it plans to expand significantly during the next five years.

Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has argued the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker, which saw the sun shine on pubs but not restaurants, is a “sign of things to come”. He said: “Weather was the biggest factor driving like-for-like sales. Nevertheless, over the past 12 months like-for-like sales have averaged +0.6% in pubs (with drink-led doing best) versus a 0.9% decline in restaurants – the comparative figures for the prior 12 months were +1.3% and +0.5% respectively. We believe May’s trend is likely to repeat in June due to the World Cup. Entering the World Cup, managed restaurants have suffered negative like-for-like sales in each of the past six months (eight of the past nine months). This is compounding the impact of inflation on profits. For example, labour costs are growing at 4% to 5% per annum and now exceed 30% of sales in restaurants. Over the past three World Cups, cinema footfall was 23% lower in June and 7% lower in July versus years with no World Cup. In our view, the film release schedule for the second half of 2018 is not strong and should result in like-for-like footfall falling over the full year. Airport passenger volumes rose 1.5% in January to April, versus 5.5% in January to April 2017. Strugglers may blame their ill fortune on snow, sun and soccer and claim this will provide soft comparables in 2019E. This is partly true but rebalancing supply and demand in casual dining is a slow process. Net new openings added 2.9% to managed sales in May versus 2.8% 12 months ago. Despite all the restaurant Company Voluntary Arrangements, supply reduction is taking longer than many predicted. We continue to believe there is downgrade risk to Restaurant Group’s forecasts and managed pubs have a good chance of clawing back any shortfall. We would buy pub shares, including Fuller’s and Marston’s.”

Former Domino's Pizza regional operations director turned Papa John’s franchisee Amit AbholFormer Domino’s Pizza regional operations director turned Papa John’s franchisee Amit Abhol (pictured) has outlined plans to open 20 stores by 2020. Abhol, who operates four sites having opened his latest in Solihull in the West Midlands and acquired three stores at the end of 2017, said: “I will add a further five Papa John’s to my portfolio in 2018 and aim to be running a minimum of 20 within three years. These are likely to be a mixture of new and existing stores. With about 350 UK stores there is still so much potential to grow with the company and, as a result, I am joining at just the right time!” Abhol previously worked at Domino’s, based out of Northern Ireland, working his way up from taking phone orders to regional operations director in 15 years. He added: “In my previous role I was able to increase revenues of stores – some by more than 500% – and the knowledge and experience I bring to the table in terms of providing an excellent customer experience will be a key ingredient in our success.”

From left: Unionburger co-owner Chris Baker, Cooke & Arkwright director Huw Thomas and Otium Real Estate chief executive Ashley BlakeSwansea-based Burger King franchisee Unionburger has secured its ninth Welsh site – in Newport. The company, run by brother and sister Chris Baker and Kim Jenkins (pictured) will open the drive-thru at Newport Leisure Park after agreeing a deal with the park’s owner, Otium Real Estate, through agent Cooke & Arkwright. Having been handed over for the fit-out, it is anticipated the outlet will open on Monday, 30 July creating about 40 jobs. Unionburger has been operating since 1983. Its last acquisition was in Commercial Street, Newport, which it acquired in September 2015. Further Burger King drive-thrus are scheduled for the Trostre area of Llanelli and in Barry. Baker said: “We are excited to be opening our second restaurant in Newport. This unit will be our first drive-thru built to the new Burger King specification. The city is developing at a rapid pace, with growth in retail and residential sectors. The sheer number of new homes being built in the surrounding area gives us every confidence this new restaurant will be a worthy addition to our portfolio.” Cooke & Arkwright director Huw Thomas said: “The new venture will be Unionburger’s ninth in Wales – further driving its expansion in the region. We are keen to acquire other sites along the M4 corridor in South Wales and the border areas.”

Cookie dough concept Naked Dough is to launch its third site, at Camden Market on Friday, 20 July. Naked Dough moved from operating a number of pop-ups in the capital to opening permanent kiosks at Intu Lakeside in Essex and Westfield London. Alongside Instagrammable, egg-free raw cookie dough, the concept offers dough milk, shakes and ice cream. Permanent flavours include Unicorn Food, Nak-Ed Sheeran and Buttery Biscuit Base. Naked Dough joins other recent additions to Camden Market, including poke bowl concept Lords of Poke, while Yolk Breaker, which focuses on egg bun sandwiches, will arrive in early July.

Marianne LumbMasterChef: The Professionals runner-up Marianne Lumb is to leave her Notting Hill restaurant Marianne, which she launched in 2013. The venue, however, will remain open. At the time of its launch, the restaurant in Chepstow Road was branded “London’s smallest fine dining restaurant”, featuring only five tables. However, Lumb tweeted: “It has been an incredible five years and I leave the business in a very healthy place. It’s time for my hard-working, dedicated team to step up to the plate.” A reply from the restaurant stated: “Marianne plans to cook and travel in Asia and we can’t wait to see what she gets up to.” Lumb, who trained at restaurants including Gravetye Manor, The River Café and Le Gavroche, was runner-up in the BBC television series in 2009, the same year she published her first book, Kitchen Knife Skills’.

Hertfordshire-based brewer and retailer Mad Squirrel has increased the equity offer in its £250,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to expand its craft beer shop estate. The Hertfordshire-based company, founded by Greg Blesson and Jason Duncan-Anderson, is now offering 2.95% equity instead of the original 1.93% in return for the investment. So far, 147 investors have pledged £100,760 with 13 days remaining. Mad Squirrel plans to use the funds to expand its craft beer shop estate and recently secured its sixth site, in Harpenden. It aims to add another this year, with plans for three more by 2020. The pitch states: “We recently installed a state-of-the-art brewery and have shown 180% growth in three years. We operate five Mad Squirrel Craft Beer outlets in commuter belt towns, with moving annual total revenues up 45%. Our taprooms have built a positive reputation for great beer and education – this has created cordial relationships with the authorities. Our strategy of opening more wet-led Mad Squirrel taprooms is focused on current consumer trends for great beer and value for money. Market insights show food-biased outlets are experiencing a decline in revenues compared with wet-led outlets showing a renaissance.” Mad Squirrel, then trading as Red Squirrel Group, raised more than £665,000 on Crowdcube in 2016 to expand its brewery and craft beer shop estate.

Executive chef George Barson outside Cora PearlThe team behind Kitty Fisher’s in Mayfair is to launch its second restaurant, Cora Pearl, in Covent Garden next month. Owners Tom Mullion, Oliver Milburn and Tim Steel will launch the venue on Tuesday, 10 July in Henrietta Street. Following the narrative of its sister restaurant, Cora Pearl is named after a celebrated British-born courtesan. Originally from Covent Garden, Pearl became the party queen of Paris. The trio said the restaurant would “reflect the drama and excitement of her glamorous demi-monde life”. The restaurant will seat 60 covers over two floors of a historic townhouse. The interiors will be influenced by Pearl’s era, with parquet flooring, dark textiles, ferns, upholstered wall-panels, tarnished mirrors and vintage lights. The ground floor will house the main dining room, while the lower ground floor will feature an open kitchen and cocktail bar. The kitchen will be led by George Barson, head chef at Kitty Fisher’s for the past 15 months, who will continue to head up both sites as executive chef. The menu will draw inspiration from the British and French influences of Pearl’s life, with dishes such as fish stew, confit pork belly with smoked quince, and brill and devilled crab alongside daily specials. The drinks list will feature cocktails, Martini and an old world wine list.

Extract Coffee Roasters co-founder Lee BolamBristol-based Extract Coffee Roasters has opened a barista training facility in London made from recycled materials destined for landfill. The company has joined 50 other businesses, including Toast Ale, at Sustainable Bankside in Sumner Street. Extract has used a former Covent Garden pub floor for its espresso bar, while its benches are made from leftover supplies sourced from a housing project in Victoria. The company, which has been trading for 11 years, supplies coffee to more than 70 cafes and restaurants across the capital and more than 500 businesses across the UK. Co-founder Lee Bolam (pictured) said: “It is great to finally have a place of learning in the capital and in the vibrant neighbourhood next to Borough Market to support our growing Extract community with training and business support. We’re fully committed to sustainability at our Bristol base, from roasting our coffee on four second-hand roasters, which we restored ourselves, to recycling all our waste coffee grounds and using 90% renewable energy to power the roastery. It’s great to finally have a place in London that is also in line with our sustainable values.”

Hotel operator Anderbury has added a third site to its portfolio after acquiring Rowton Hall Hotel & Spa in Chester off an asking price of £6.25m. The company has bought the property from the Wigginton family in an off-market deal through agents Christie & Co. The hotel comprises 40 en-suite bedrooms, function and conference facilities, a luxury spa, and award-winning restaurant. Anderbury also owns the St George Hotel in Llandudno and Hatherley Manor Hotel & Spa in Gloucestershire. Ryan Lynn, director at Christie & Co’s Manchester office, who handled the sale, said: “We are pleased to have worked with our client, Gordon Wigginton, and his family on this project and to have been able to achieve such a strong result for them in a sale of the hotel on a confidential basis. We wish them a very happy retirement from the hotel business after years of being in the industry and wish the buyers Anderbury every success with the hotel.”

American-inspired street food brand Hanks has opened its debut permanent site, in Deptford, south east London. Hank’s Burgers + Beers has opened at Deptford Market Yard across the road from the site where Victoria Thake and Simon Drake launched the concept in 2014. Hanks has traded at markets such as Southbank Centre and Kerb while exploring and developing its American-style menu. It features aged beef patties and Cajun fries along with American-style beer sourced from London brewers and curated by nearby shop and tasting room Hop, Burns & Black. Hanks’ burgers include The Big Smoke (panko-crumbed smoked tofu with mushroom marmalade, garlic aioli, lettuce and American cheese) and the Big Blue (6oz aged beef patty with stilton, caramelised onions, lettuce and mustard).

Scottish brewer WooHa has closed its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube after raising more than £180,000 to upgrade its packaging equipment and boost sales efforts in the US. The company was offering 4.76% equity in return for the investment, with an initial target of £125,000. In total, 227 investors pledged £183,180 and the campaign has now closed. The company’s beers are stocked in JD Wetherspoon and Stonegate Pub Company sites in the UK, while WooHa also exports to EU countries and the US, with its “bold, Scottish branding” mainly aimed at export markets. WooHa Brewing Company was founded in 2015 and moved to a larger, 6.2-acre site in the Highlands last year to “accommodate rapid expansion”. It aims to be selling its products through 14 distributors in the US by the fourth quarter of this year. The pitch states: “WooHa is all about big ambitions and showing the world Scotland produces great beer. WooHa has always had a focus on the export market – with the US its main target. WooHa can be found in Tennessee, California and Washington DC. We aim to launch the beer in Alabama, Texas, Maryland, Florida, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Ohio. The new site has allowed capacity to increase five-fold. However, the volume of beer sold is limited by capacity of the current bottling line. WooHa is looking for funding to help finance new packaging equipment to remove this bottleneck and allow the company to continue to grow its international reach.”

Devizes-based brewer and retailer Wadworth is adding accommodation to its Bartons Mill pub in Old Basing, Hampshire, following a £650,000 investment. The company will open The Barn, which consists of 12 rooms, in July. The accommodation has been created using a barn that had sat on the site unused for many years. Each room retains the traditional character of the building. Wadworth business development manager Michael Phillips said: “This is great news for the area with the new rooms being added. I’m confident Barton’s Mill will provide business and leisure travellers with a great B&B venue.” Bartons Mill was originally a 17th century mill known as Old Basing Mill.

CAMRAThe Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has launched this year’s Pub Design Awards. Held in association with Historic England, the awards recognise designs used in refurbishing and conserving pubs as well as in new-build projects. Last year’s winners included London pubs The Fitzroy Tavern in Fitzrovia and the Sail Loft in Greenwich, as well as the Bowland Beer Hall in Clitheroe, Lancashire, and The Greenwood in Northolt, Middlesex. The competition is open to all pubs in the UK and venues can be nominated by anyone. Entrants may be required to provide additional photographs and plans of the building so the licensee should approve an entry. Awards co-ordinator Sean Murphy said: “Every pub in the competition tells a story of huge potential and dedication. Whether that pub is a new-build or much-loved heritage pub restored to its former glory, we want to hear from you.” The closing date for entries is Friday, 31 August. To enter, click here

BeerHot weather in May helped boost trade in Britain’s pubs but hit restaurant sales, according to the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker. Overall, the country’s managed pub, bar and restaurant groups saw collective like-for-like sales up 1.4% compared with the previous year and bounced back following the 1.2% fall in April. While managed pubs saw like-for-likes jump 3.5% for the month, with drink-led outlets doing best, casual dining brands saw like-for-like sales drop 2.1% compared with the same period last year. “It’s a familiar story,” said Peter Martin, vice-president of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM. “When the sun shines people head for the pub or, more precisely, the pub garden. In contrast, restaurants do better when it’s dull and damp. Weather remains the biggest factor when it comes to sales in the out-of-home market. That’s the way it is.” London did marginally better than the rest of the country, with like-for-like sales up 1.6% compared with 1.4% for outside the M25, with the difference between pubs and restaurants mirroring the national picture. “The effect of the royal wedding on trade is hard to judge but, if anything, it may have depressed sales with many people staying home to watch it on the television,” said Martin. “The good news is overall the sector saw an uplift in trading in May, which contrasts with the 1.2% fall in April. The public continues to go out to eat and drink and confidence among operators is also returning, if not yet to pre-Brexit levels.” Mark Sheehan, managing director of Coffer Corporate Leisure, added: “It’s always easy to blame the weather but it was a long wait until May, when the pub sector got the benefits of some sunshine. Better weather and a World Cup with a record 32 teams should see very strong trading for many pub businesses over the coming period. Restaurants and food-led pubs may have a tougher summer to add to the pressures they are under. In the longer term, we see competition for casual dining chains becoming a little less intense as poorer-performing units are closed.” Martin added: “The shake-out of sites in the casual dining sector seems to be helping by reducing the threat of oversupply and deals are also being done in the market, showing investors also want to be involved in pubs, bars and restaurants.” Underlying like-for-like growth for the 39 companies in the tracker cohort, which represents large and small groups, is still subdued, running at only 0.6% for the 12 months to the end of May but up from 0.4% at the end of April. Total sales growth across the cohort, which includes the effect of new openings, was 4.5% in May, reflecting continuing if slower brand roll-outs and running at 3.8% for the 12 months to the end of the month.

Star PubsHeineken UK has revealed it will invest a record £44m in Star Pubs & Bars during 2018 and create 1,000 jobs. The investment is more than double last year’s figure of £20m and brings the company’s total expenditure on pubs to almost £140m during the past five years. About a quarter of Star’s 2,900 pubs will benefit from the investment programme, which includes 140 major capex projects with an average spend of £170,000 per site. The investments are being tailored to ensure each pub’s proposition is relevant to its community. Heineken UK managing director David Forde said: “We are passionate supporters of the Great British pub and believe well-invested pubs run by skilled and motivated operators will continue to prosper. We believe our commitment to investment and understanding of consumer trends will help our licensees’ businesses to keep growing and ensure the pub remains at the heart of British life for generations to come.” Secretary of state for business Greg Clark added: “Pubs are at the heart of communities and play a vital role in local economies. This record investment by Heineken and its creation of 1,000 British jobs is another significant vote of confidence in the UK economy.”

Watching sport in a pubMorgan Stanley leisure analyst Jamie Rollo has said the Fifa World Cup might only provide a small boost for pub operators but has come at a time when most of the industry is struggling to generate like-for-like sales growth. Looking at the impact of the World Cup on pub trading, Rollo said: “Major football tournaments, such as the World Cup and European Championships, are usually positive for operators of wet-led pub estates that show sport, such as Greene King, although negative for more food-led operators, such as Mitchells & Butlers. The event is being hosted in Russia, which may provide an incremental boost as the time zone (three hours ahead of the UK) will mean most games will be at 3pm, 4pm or 7pm, potentially driving longer-duration pub visits. In our coverage universe, Greene King should be a net beneficiary given half its pubs are ‘locals’, although other wet-led pub operators we don’t follow, including Fuller’s and Ei Group, could see a boost. In 2016, Greene King’s managed business achieved like-for-like sales growth of 2.8% in the eight-week main portion of the European tournament (350 basis points better than the previous few months), although this was also flattered by better weather. Weather has also been relatively favourable in recent weeks. Comparatively, the 2014 World Cup was a relative disappointment against tough comparisons from the prior year. JD Wetherspoon has guided for a neutral impact overall from the tournament and we expect the tournament to be a small negative for more food-led operators such as Mitchells & Butlers. While the boost may only be small on a full-year basis, the industry is mostly struggling to generate any like-for-like sales growth (we assume minus 0.5% for Greene King for its FY19 year ending April), every 1% on like-for-like sales for Greene King is an estimated 5% to earnings per share. Greene King reports full-year results in two weeks and, while we are positive ahead of the results, the shares have done surprisingly well in recent weeks already.”

Independent restaurant operators are finding growth and opportunity despite the “casual dining crunch”, according to an industry round table. Hosted by agents Christie & Co and City of London-based solicitors Goodman Derrick, operators highlighted three key sector themes – technology, consumer trends and funding. Operators said they had widely adopted contactless card payments, with one noting an uptick in covers of more than 30% due to improved efficiency. Online click-and-collect services are also popular, allowing businesses to pre-prepare meals ahead of customer pick-up. Social media was highlighted as a valuable tool to gain free marketing and engage with the customer base, with many operators highlighting online trends such as veganism, fitness lifestyle, and Instagrammable food or decor. Some said it was common to be approached by bloggers offering to promote their business in exchange for free meals. Operators said the search by millennials for experiential elements and their move away from generic chains had put independents in a strong position. Regarding funding, private equity backing was criticised for pitfalls such as accelerated growth that stopped a business growing organically and at a sustainable pace. However, they were not averse to that form of funding as long as restaurants maintained their identity and quality and didn’t become oversaturated. They said opening sites rapidly and without proper research was part of the downfall of many casual dining chains. Operators praised crowdfunding for the connection it nurtured between a business and its supporters but said it could lead to uncertainty for future buyers or investors. The key takeaway from the event was consumer demand remained as strong as ever but supply needed to be well placed to ensure success. Christie & Co head of pubs and restaurants Simon Chaplin said: “Focused, independent operators are finding growth and opportunity. The event was well attended by those looking to share their experiences, with most relieved to find they are not alone in their optimism.” Goodman Derrick hospitality lawyer James Daglish added: “It is clear the so-called casual dining crunch is not hitting all operators and certainly not well-balanced businesses that are responding to demand, especially from millennials. I left with the impression some chain closures will provide opportunities to high-quality, nimble businesses.”

CityMunchLondon-based startup CityMunch, which aims to fill restaurants at quieter times of the day and has received investment from Just Eat, has hit its £150,000 target on crowdfunding platform Seedrs to fund expansion. The company, which launched in February 2016 and has 250 restaurant brands on its books including Busaba and Hummus Brothers, is offering an 8% equity stake in return for the investment. So far, 150 investors have pledged £150,656 and the campaign is “overfunding”. Since launch, CityMunch said it had sent more than 50,000 people through the doors of its restaurant partners – it is now live in London, Bristol and Manchester. Previously, chief executive Robert Lynch told Propel: “Our growth in the past year has shown real-time offers can be a massive help to restaurants facing tough headwinds. This funding round will enable us to expand our reach and develop the product into a powerful tool for maximising our clients’ business potential.” The pitch states: “Our primary focus is continuing our rapid growth. Our future plans – including predictive analytics, offer automation, third-party partnerships and customer feedback – all depend on significant scale to reach their full potential. Much of our fund-raising proceeds will be invested in business development and marketing to expand our presence in our existing cities and achieve this scale. Realising this next stage of growth will allow us to raise a more substantial further round of investment at a valuation that makes sense for the business.” In February last year, CityMunch raised more than £186,000 on Seedrs.

Warrington-headquartered brewer and packaging company Thomas Hardy Holdings has said its prospects for 2018 “look promising” as it reported a turnover and profit boost. The company is behind Thomas Hardy Packaging, Thomas Hardy Burtonwood and Thomas Hardy Kendal. The Burtonwood Brewery was built in 1990 on an 11-acre site recently expanded to allow for brewing, fermenting and processing international lager. The company’s packaging plant in Kendal comprises a high-speed line with mixing and blending facilities for alcoholic ready-to-drink beverages and soft drinks. For the year ending 30 September 2017, the company saw turnover increase to £18,071,000 compared with £14,511,000 the year before. Pre-tax profit was up to £2,732,000 compared with £1,399,000 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The enhanced profit performance comes from an increase in volumes produced from existing and new customers and follows significant capital investment made in the current facilities over recent years. The capital investment programme continued during the year with an additional £1,491,000 being spent across the group. The prospects for 2018 look promising with volumes expected to be in line with the current year. The balance sheet continues to improve its strong position and includes cash reserves of £5,626,000, which leaves the directors with a number of options to supplement the business further in the future where the opportunity allows.”

Utopian Brewing, chaired by Faucet Inn founder Steve Cox, has launched a £350,000 crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube, offering 19.07% of its equity in return for investment. The company stated: “We have spent months in research and planning. This funding will enable us to build out our 3,500-litre brewhouse with sufficient vessels to produce more than 8,000 hectolitres per annum. We will aim to install sufficient infrastructure and have space to add vessels later to increase production to more than 15,000 hectolitres per annum. All of our ingredients will be sourced from UK producers. There are more than 30 British hop varieties and a vast array of malts and cereals ensuring we can make a varied range of distinctive products. To assist our sustainability ambitions, our proposed site benefits from a natural water source and access to cattle waste, a suitable feed source for anaerobic digestion, which will contribute to power generation along with potential solar panels. We aim to sell draught product to pubs and bars locally and through national distribution. We have provisionally agreed to supply for 15 sites and we believe our industry contacts will give us a head start in rapidly adding new outlets. We plan for a packaged product to be added as soon as possible for both online and retail sales.”

Gatwick North TerminalGatwick airport is to add a mezzanine at its North Terminal departure lounge to accommodate new restaurants. The move is part of the airport’s £1.1bn, five-year plan to support growth and enhance the airport experience for passengers. The airport plans to spend £266m in 2018-19 alone as it predicts passenger numbers will increase to almost 53 million by 2023. Other plans include redevelopment of hotel capacity, while completion of the South Terminal long-stay car park decking project will provide an additional 1,200 car parking spaces. Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “By committing to spend another £1.11bn, Gatwick can continue to grow sustainably, attract new airlines and offer more global connections while providing an excellent service to passengers.”

London-based micro-brewer The Park Brewery has hit its stretch target of £310,000 in its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. The company extended its target to £310,000 after hitting its initial target of £175,000. Explain the increased target, The Park Brewery stated: “We’ve been back over the figures and, after careful consideration, we’ve decided on one last push to £300,000. The kit we originally budgeted for was basic and very manual. This extra money will provide us with a more automated system, which will ease that pressure physically and make The Park Brewery a better place to work and speed production to keep up with sales. We will be able to recruit a sales person sooner so we can focus more on growing the company. We can ramp up our marketing and PR spend to speed sales and get out to more pubs and outlets.” The company was founded in autumn 2014 by husband-and-wife team Josh and Frankie Kearns with an initial £5,000 set-up producing just 200 litres a brew. Struggling to keep up with demand, the Kearns injected £30,000 and expanded capacity mid-2015 to 600 litres, brewing three times a week to keep up with sales. The brewery is at full capacity.

Fuller's has reopened The Distillers in hammersmith, which now serves Frontier from tanksLondon brewer and retailer Fuller’s has reopened its Distillers pub in Hammersmith following a refurbishment that places Frontier lager at its heart. Frontier is now delivered straight from two large tanks, which have replaced the traditional kegs. The Frontier tanks each hold five hectolitres (the equivalent of ten kegs or 880 pints). The Distillers, which is in Fulham Palace Road, has been refreshed and injected with colour. A new back bar has also been built. General manager Andrew Donbavand said: “The Distillers is looking brilliant after its recent refurbishment and it is especially exciting to be named as a Frontier Hero site. This is another step in the evolution of The Distillers as a craft beer haven.” Frontier brand manager Matt Bassant added: “Frontier has seen fantastic growth since its launch in 2015, proving popular as a lager not only in the pub but also at events around the UK.”

YO! Sushi – International Sushi DayYO! Sushi is to hold free sushi masterclasses at five of its UK sites. Corresponding with International Sushi Day, chefs will show participants how to construct and roll several dishes, with their creations boxed to take away along with a sushi mat, a sushi-making guide, and a 25% discount voucher for YO! Sushi restaurants. The sushi schools will take place at restaurants in St Paul’s and Fulham in London, Birmingham Selfridges, Grainger Street in Newcastle and Cabot Circus in Bristol at 6pm on Monday (18 June).

VisitEngland and the AA have agreed updated common standards and criteria for hotels and self-catering accommodation in the UK. The revised guidelines will ensure “consistent standards” for official star-rated venues across the UK. The revised scheme follows customer and industry feedback and focuses on the quality of experiences with less emphasis on facilities. VisitEngland director Andrew Stokes said: “We know people value quality and guaranteeing that a star rating in Inverness or Swansea brings with it the same benefits as one in Cornwall or Belfast will encourage visitors to further explore the accommodation on offer. These refreshed common standards ensure the wonderful range of quality accommodation across our nations and regions continues to meet the high expectations of visitors.” AA hotel and hospitality services managing director Simon Numphud added: “We have seen a growing diversity of accommodation combined by increasing customer expectations. It was important the quality standards were fully updated.”

Deliveroo BikesA union has been given the go-ahead for a high court challenge over the employment status of Deliveroo riders. The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) wants the court to overturn a ruling that deemed Deliveroo riders “self-employed”. Mrs Justice Simler gave the union permission for a full judicial review of the ruling, which was given by the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) in November. The CAC rejected an application by the IWGB to represent drivers in parts of north London. The committee said because riders were able to pass on a job to a substitute or abandon a job, they were not obliged to provide a “personal service” and therefore could not be classified as workers. The union argued that as independent contractors, riders were denied basic employment rights such as a guaranteed minimum wage, holiday pay and collective bargaining rights. Simler rejected a number of the union’s arguments but said it was arguable the CAC should have considered the right of Deliveroo riders to bargain collectively – as enshrined in Article 11 of the European convention on human rights. Highlighting the fact Simler had granted the judicial review on “limited grounds” and had made her decision “with some hesitation”, a Deliveroo spokesman said: “Today’s decision has clearly upheld the central finding of the CAC, which is Deliveroo riders are self-employed. This is good news for Deliveroo riders, who value the ability to choose when and where to work. The court has allowed a limited challenge on human rights grounds. Deliveroo has long argued the self-employed should have access to greater protections and we welcome any debate on how that can best be achieved.”

Adam HandlingChef Adam Handling (pictured) is to open his largest venue yet in a move that will see The Frog E1 move to a former Byron site in Hoxton. The venue in Hoxton Square will also house a site for Handling’s sustainable coffee shop and deli brand Bean & Wheat and new bar concept Iron Stag when it opens at the end of July. Each venue will have its own entrance on separate streets. Handling will oversee all operations alongside new executive chef Daniel Watkins, who will have responsibility for the food offering. The Frog E1’s head chef Jamie Park and his team will keep their roles. The Frog Hoxton restaurant will have 60 covers, while Iron Stag will seat 120. There will be an emphasis on aged whiskies, including 35-year and 40-year bottles as well as the bar’s own casked whisky. Bean & Wheat will feature a new craft beer bottle shop offering, while Handling will implement a recycling initiative that will see customers bring empty beer bottles back in exchange for free coffee. Handling said: “E1 was my first independent restaurant and it has been a great testing ground for what we do best. I want to take everything people love about it but slightly elevate the offering and make it even better.” The chef also operates Frog by Adam Handling and Eve Bar and will launch food and beverage outlets at Belmond Cadogan Hotel in Chelsea in December.

Peter Backman,The number of emerging high-street restaurant brands has fallen 38% in the past 18 months, reflecting the overall slowdown in the market that has been exacerbated by increasing capacity, according to the latest Ones To Watch report. In the report, which tracks fast-growing brands in the UK, Peter Backman (pictured) said small-scale operations are in growth while the rest of the casual dining market is effectively going backwards. Crosstown Doughnuts is the fastest-growing brand in the Ones To Watch list as measured by percentage growth in outlet numbers. Meanwhile, German Doner Kebab topped the list again when measured by actual increase in site numbers during the past three years. Also noticeable is the expansion of overseas brands within Ones To Watch. Turkish restaurant Simit Sarayi is investing heavily in the UK, while North American brands Tim Hortons, Taco Bell and Shake Shack feature. The number of brands listed has continued to fall – now 136 – and is roughly the same size as in 2015. That was a year, Backman said, when there was immense energy among private equity firms which, having identified the potential of the restaurant sector, were ramping up the roll-out of their estates. A total of 41 brands were unable to sustain the pace of growth required to stay on the list – at least 20% during the past three years – while there were only 25 newcomers. Changes to the market since 2015 have exposed many operators and their investors, leading to many of the larger companies reducing their site numbers, Backman said. He added casual dining was falling out of favour as a growth vehicle in Ones To Watch with recent leaders falling behind, including Italian, Thai and cosmopolitan cuisines. Nevertheless, there are growth trends, notably the continuing expansion of coffee shops and the re-emergence of sweet snack offers. Backman said this continued development underlined the investment attraction of small-footprint offers that require comparatively low investment per site. Japanese dining has continued to grow at above-average rates, while the rate of expansion by Mexican outlets has slowed. The number of units per brand was slightly down compared with six months ago (10.4 outlets per brand in May versus 10.6 in November last year). The overall number of Ones To Watch outlets has grown from 1,402 in May 2015 to 1,413 – an increase of 0.8% in three years. Backman said: “The numbers in Ones To Watch have grown significantly year after year until May 2017 and then they went into reverse. The number of emerging brands has fallen by a huge 38% over the past 18 months and, unsurprisingly, is continuing to fall, echoing the closures we’ve seen in recent months among larger restaurant chains. However, there are still growth trends in the market. Coffee shops continue to grow and we are seeing sweet snack offers re-emerge. They are small-scale operations with a small footprint and limited fit-out costs. Coupled with a franchise-based growth model, they are as attractive to investors as small-scale startups.” Top performers (fastest growth in estate numbers 2015 to 2018): 1. Crosstown Doughnuts 1,100% (12 outlets); =2. The Little Dessert Shop 800% (18); =2. Insomnia 800% (18); 4. Shake Shack 700% (eight); 5. German Doner Kebab 667% (23); 6. My Restaurant 600% (seven); =7. The Hub 500% (six); =7. The Honesty Group 500% (six); 9. Black Sheep 450% (22).

Zonal's chief executive Stuart McLeanHospitality management solutions company Zonal has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire hospitality EPOS supplier Comtrex. Zonal said the acquisition would cement its position as the largest hospitality EPOS solutions provider in the UK and add a significant footprint in the US, where the deal doubles the size of its North American business. The US arm of Comtrex is based in New Jersey, while Zonal has an office in Florida. Zonal chief executive Stuart McLean (pictured) said: “Comtrex is a fantastic addition to the Zonal family, with great customers and products on both sides of the Atlantic. I look forward to continuing the success it has had over the 30 years the business has been operating.” Comtrex UK managing director Steve Roberts added: “I’m delighted to join the Zonal family and excited about working with its team to further strengthen the Comtrex solution and becoming part of the UK’s most successful EPOS company.”

Propel has launched a new service for Premium subscribers that will see them receive regular video recordings of key speakers from Propel events and conferences. On Friday (15 June), Premium subscribers received the first, a 30-minute videocast featuring Clive Watson, chief executive of City Pub Group, in which he talks about his experience of undertaking an initial public offering (IPO) and the pros and cons of being a public company. He also reveals how City Pub Group’s IPO turned into a twin-track process after the company received interest from a trade buyer. Propel Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out, and have access to our database of 1,100 multi-site companies. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “We plan to compile an invaluable library of senior leaders and advisors offering insights and advice, a resource Premium readers can tap into.” An annual premium subscription costs £345 plus VAT for operators and £445 plus VAT for suppliers – plus £50 each for additional team members. Email anne.steele@propelinfo.com to sign up or call her on 01444 817691.

This week is the last chance to book for the Inspirational Leadership In Tough Times Masterclass, being held by Propel and Professor Chris Edger. The event takes place next Thursday (21 June) at Chartered Accountants Hall in Moorgate Place, London. The masterclass will provide insights and tips into how you can perfect being an inspirational leader. Drawing on material from his nine books on leadership, Prof Edger will outline how inspirational leaders mobilise their teams and businesses to outperform the market in challenging circumstances. A host of companies and brands have signed up for the event including Diageo, Revolution Bars Group, Greene King, Frankie and Benny’s, Fuller’s, Mitchells & Butlers, Stonegate Pub Company, TRG Concessions, Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, Brunning & Price, Brasserie Bar Co, Beds and Bars, ETM Group, Chilango, Pizza Pilgrims, Busaba, Buzzworks, MeatTailer, Ole & Steen, Five Points Brewing Company, Bone Daddies, Gas Street Social, Gracious Development Group, MyLahore, Ideal Collection, George & Dragon, True North Brew, Manorview Hotel Group, Mason & Company, The Old Rectory House Hotel, Sam’s Riverside, Freeths and HIT Training. For the full schedule, click here. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for operators and £445 plus VAT for suppliers, while tickets for Propel Premium subscribers are £245 plus VAT. To book, email anne.steele@propelinfo.com or call 01444 817691.

More than 250 people are now booked for this year’s Propel summer conference and party – operators can claim up to two free places. The event takes place on Thursday, 5 July at The Oxford Belfry. This year we have the usual great conference followed by crazy golf at Junkyard Golf in Oxford plus a barbecue and live band karaoke back at the hotel. The speaker line-up is Matt Coles, of Morar HPI’s food and drinks team; Peter Edwards, chief operating officer of Zonal; sector consultant James Hacon; Martin Morales, restaurateur, chef and entrepreneur known as the pioneer of Peruvian food; Angela Malik, board member of the London Food Board; Gavin George, chief executive of Laine Pub Company; Matthew Kirby, chief executive of Chozen Noodle; David Abrahamovitch, founder of genre-busting Grind; Andreas Karlsson, group chief operating officer of Sticks ‘n’ Sushi; Simon Mitchell, managing director of Kerb; James Baer, managing director of Amber Taverns; and HGEM insight manager Rich New and lead client manager Jason Horn. Operators can claim up to two free places by emailing anne.steele@propelinfo.com or calling her on 01444 817691.

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New York Study Tour 2018

New York Study Tour

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