Star Pubs & Bars

Story of the Day:

Quick-service restaurants boost coffee sales three times faster than mainstream shops

CoffeeQuick-service restaurants (QSR) have increased their sales of coffee three times faster, at 63%, than mainstream coffee shops since 2008, according to new research by insights firm NPD Group. The findings revealed Britain’s high street specialist coffee chains have increased their individual coffee servings by 21% in the same period. Pubs have also realised the importance of coffee and have increased servings by 18% since 2008. NPD Group said the appeal of coffee has allowed operators to use it as a way of entering new eating opportunities or “dayparts”. As QSR operators have started to invest in coffee for breakfast and snacking, coffee shops have responded by trying to take a bite of their lunch business, which generates more than 50% more spend than that produced by customers who just want snacks. Although coffee shops now generate 27% of their traffic at lunchtime, NPD Group said they have only been able to achieve a marginal increase in their share of food servings to date as a result. NPD Group added with other foodservice operators undercutting the coffee specialists by as much as £1.30 on a regular Americano, they must sell other items to maintain their profit margins. The research showed coffee shops are working hard to boost visits too. By the year ending June 2017, Britain’s well-known coffee outlets had increased visits by 120 million since 2008 to 659 million visits a year, a 22% increase. They have increased visits faster than the wider quick-service restaurants sector, which increased visits by 10% between 2008 and 2017. NPD Group said so far, despite the growing competition, coffee shops have maintained market share to provide 41% of coffee servings in Britain’s QSR sector, a similar level to recent years. Britain’s high street coffee outlets now account for 6% of the visits of the entire British foodservice industry. The research also revealed the importance of coffee to Britain’s leading foodservice operators is evident in the growing concentration of this business. In 2008, the top ten operators together accounted for 26% of all coffee servings in Britain. By year ending June 2017, this had increased to 35%, with leading players consisting of a mix of specialist coffee shops, QSR brands, supermarkets and a pub chain. Cyril Lavenant, foodservice director UK at the NPD Group, said: “Britain’s coffee market is highly competitive, with specialist outlets not just competing against each other but also taking on the high street QSR brands. Quality coffee is now available in a huge variety of locations – fast food restaurants, sandwich shops, bakeries, supermarkets and convenience stores, high street retailers, tourist attractions, and of course petrol stations. It’s no exaggeration to say that offering high-quality coffee is the lifeblood of the British foodservice market. It provides a route for foodservice operators to serve customers from their menu throughout the day, from coffee with breakfast to coffee after a dinner out. Consumers can grab a coffee anywhere, so the message for the specialist coffee shops is that they must stand out to compete. Coffee shop chains tend to look alike and have a similar menu and ambience. If there were no branding outside or inside the shops, it would be difficult for consumers to know for sure which outlet they were in. Some of the new, independent coffee businesses are adopting a fresh approach with brighter, sharper interiors, a more inviting atmosphere and appetising menu boards. What’s fascinating about the coffee market is that we are seeing new independents performing just as well as the bigger, established coffee chains. Consumers want something innovative and even quirky to try, and they believe that local outlets will have a superior range of products. The established brands have become bland. They need to wake up and smell the coffee to take on competitive threats from both extremes of the foodservice sector.”

The Alchemist to focus expansion on London as it looks to eventually grow to 50 UK sites

The Alchemist is opening a site at MediaCityUK in SeptemberThe Alchemist managing director Simon Potts has told Propel the company plans to focus on expansion in London in 2018 as it looks to eventually build an estate of up to 50 UK sites. The company, which is backed by Palatine Private Equity, currently has ten venues with five more – Oxford, Media City, Nottingham, Bristol and Cardiff – scheduled to launch by April next year. Potts said the group would continue to look to open five sites a year with London very much the key target. He believed there could eventually be up to 15 venues in the capital. He said: “I like that idea of establishing our foothold in London. We have a site just off Liverpool Street that is doing very well and we think there could be a very good opportunity for us. We’ve been up against it a bit with the size and scale of rents but things are starting to settle down a bit now so there is potential to push the numbers up, especially given a number of operators are either slowing their expansion or shedding sites. Of course, though, we’ve got to make sure we get the locations right. We are also having talks with landlords in Edinburgh at the moment but I think it will be the end of 2018/early 2019 before we do anything.” Potts said while the immediate focus was on expansion in the UK, he has ambitions to take the brand abroad. He added: “I think we have an offer that would work in places in central Europe, the Middle East and the east coast of the US. It is all a long way off but it’s good to have these goals to keep the juices flowing.” Potts said the company’s latest opening in Chester was trading “well ahead” of expectations, while sites were taking £60,000 a week on average. He also revealed after the latest spate of openings the company would look at expanding the retail side of the business. This would primarily be selling pre-mixed cocktails or packaged ingredients for consumers to make their own at home. Potts said the company would continue to develop further initiatives following the launch of Currency of Kindness, where The Alchemist pays its team members to go out into their local communities and volunteer during working hours. “I think we have a duty to look at the impact we have on the communities where we operate and do our bit to support them,” he added.

Other News:

No1 Lounges founder and chief executive Phil CameronNo1 Lounges, which operates pay-on-entry lounges at airports across the UK, has said it will double its number of venues from eight to 16 by the end of next year, with a target of 24 by the end of 2020. In an industry estimated to be worth £3.4bn globally, No1 Lounges has sites at Heathrow, Gatwick, Edinburgh and Birmingham airports and offers three types of lounge – My Lounge, No1 Lounges, and Clubrooms, with entry starting from £18 per person. Additional lounges will be at airports where No1 already has a presence and some new locations. The company’s lounges offer food and drinks, unlimited Wi-Fi, child-free areas, and newspapers and magazines guests can take with them on their flight. Chief executive Phil Cameron (pictured), who is also a West End theatre producer, founded the company in 2006, recording a turnover of £23m in 2016. He said: “Premium travel is changing rapidly. Passengers are increasingly looking for affordable luxuries and more personalised experiences, especially as many airlines are streamlining their offers to compete. We believe it is about giving consumers greater choices and a stylish send-off – all without breaking the bank.”

Bedford-based brewer and retailer Charles Wells has opened its third Pizza, Pots and Pints site, this time in Peterborough, and its first in a city centre. The company has launched the venue in Queen Street on the former site of Clarkes fine-dining restaurant. Prior to 2013, it had been the brewer’s Grapevine pub. The concept offers artisan pizza and “one-pot comfort food” such as mac and cheese, and cheesy squash casserole ham hock fricassee, alongside Charles Wells beer. The new venue features a cobblestone effect on the ground floor leading through large bi-fold doors to the garden. The opening team consists of Sam Adams and Craig Billington, who have worked with Charles Wells from the launch of the Pizza, Pots and Pints concept. Director Craig Mayes said: “We’re really excited to share our passion of Pizza, Pots and Pints with the people of Peterborough. Sam and Craig have made our pioneering Cambridge and Baldock venues a firm favourite with locals there. We’re sure Peterborough’s foodies and beer fans alike will also delight in what they are bringing to the city.”

The final Propel Multi Club Conference of 2017 is now open for bookings. The full-day event takes place on Wednesday, 1 November at the Millennium Gloucester hotel in London. Jeremy Simmonds and Matt Grech-Smith, founders of the Institute of Competitive Socialising brand Swingers, which combines crazy golf, high-quality bars and street food in the City of London with a second site opening early in 2018, will talk about their brand, its USPs, future plans and the thinking behind the Institute of Competitive Socialising. Multi-site operators of pubs, restaurants and foodservice outlets can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele on

Be At One, the specialist cocktail bar group, has opened a site in Bournemouth for its second venue on the south coast. The group has invested £500,000 to open the bar in Richmond Hill, close to the seafront, on the site of a former nightclub. Be At One director Steve Locke said: “We’re really excited to be in Bournemouth as it’s a location that has long been on our target list. It’s a vibrant town that has benefited from significant investment in recent times. That, in turn, has brought a great buzz to the centre from locals and tourists.” Be At One operates 33 venues across the UK, with its other south coast site in Brighton.

Shake Shack has revealed it is to open its first site in mainland China as it steps up expansion plans in Asia. The company, which said in July it would make its Hong Kong debut next year, is working with its licensee Maxim’s Caterers to open the first restaurant in Shanghai by 2019. Shake Shack said it plans to open 25 sites in Shanghai and east China by 2028. The menu will feature Shake Shack’s signature items including the ShackBurger, Shack-cago Dog, classic crinkle-cut fries, beer, wine and frozen custard ice cream. Chief executive Randy Garutti said: “There’s incredible opportunity in China and I couldn’t think of a better place to begin this chapter of our story than Shanghai, a city that understands great brands, appreciates premium ingredients, and ultimately loves food. The city’s streets overflow with vibrant flavours and energy every day and we can’t wait to join Shanghai’s thriving food community.”

MasterChef semi-finalist Elizabeth Cottam and Mark Owens, former head chef at Michelin-starred restaurant The Box Tree in Ilkley, have opened a venture in Leeds. Cottam and Owens have launched Home in Kirkgate, with the 3,669 square foot venue having previously been a dance hall, billiard club, cinema and most recently Indian restaurant Darbar. The new restaurant, which has space for 65 covers with an additional chef’s table, offers “fine dining, reimagined”. Owens said: “We’re coming at this with a ‘home by name, home by nature’ approach and our monthly-changing menus will be a true celebration of everything Great British produce has to offer.” Cottam added: “Home is being created through our creative and nurturing approach to all elements of our work – from the design of the restaurant to the bringing together of our team of the very best local talent, and from the sourcing of the best seasonal produce our country has to offer to the creation of some special treats and surprises for our diners.”

Late-night food delivery service Feast has extend its £150,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube by seven days. The company is offering a 3.61% equity stake to fund the expansion of the service across London. So far, the campaign has raised £128,930 from 192 investors – 85% of its target. Feast was founded by Simon Pusey after he became frustrated at “not being able to find good food after 10pm”. The company previously raised £460,000 in seed investment from angel investors. The pitch states: “In partnership with some of the best 24-hour and late-night restaurants, we deliver great food at times you can’t get it delivered anywhere else – between 7pm and 5am. Founded in December 2015 by one man on a Dutch bike, Feast now has more than 40 drivers on the road. We’ve served more than 20,000 hungry customers. During the past three months we have a total order value of £179,291, which would equate to a total order value run rate of more than £500,000 over the next 12 months. We’ve also signed up more than 80 hotels to our bespoke site at This allows hotels and luxury apartments to outsource their night-time food needs to us and make money from every order their guest places. We currently take £2.50 from the customer per order and 25% of the price of the order from the restaurant. We aim to fulfil 28,000 orders in 2017, which would equate to a total order turnover of more than £500,000. We plan to use our Crowdcube funds to increase the area we serve in London to include the whole of Zone 2. We will also hire a second full-stack developer and another salesperson to bring on more hotels to”

The Black Lion in Long Melford, Suffolk, which is The Chestnut Group's sixth sitePub operator The Chestnut Group has added to its portfolio in East Anglia with the purchase of The Black Lion hotel in Long Melford, its sixth site. The plan is for the bar, restaurant and “garden room” to be open in the autumn, with further work on the bedrooms once the business is open. Philip Turner, founder of The Chestnut Group, said: “Our aim is for The Black Lion to be a place that locals are proud of and a destination of choice for the growing number of visitors to the area each year. We are a Suffolk-based business investing heavily across the region to showcase what East Anglia has to offer in terms of food, attractions, countryside and hospitality.” The team at The Black Lion will include the first graduate of The Chestnut Academy. The academy was set up in 2015 to offer vocational training and a guaranteed management position for those wanting a career in hospitality. Turner added: “The academy has been an overwhelming success. We currently have eight fantastic students on the academy who are looking forward to starting their management career with The Chestnut Group.”

Mexican brand Barburrito, which is backed by the British Growth Fund, has reported turnover increased 25% to £12,764,000 for the year ending 26 March 2017, compared with £10,225,000 the previous year. Pre-tax losses narrowed to £2,529,000 compared with a loss of £3,115,000 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Barburrito said it had now rebranded the five Pinto sites in Glasgow and Edinburgh it bought in November 2015. It also refurbished four of its established sites with one venue left to be upgraded to the new branding and design launched in FY2016. In addition, the company opened three new restaurants during the financial year – in the Union Square shopping centre in Aberdeen, a third site in Edinburgh in Forrest Road, and a relocated unit in Paddington Station in London. The company stated: “The reported turnover of £12.8m does not reflect the full impact of the new sites added during the year, as the company’s ‘run rate’ turnover is now in the region of £15m. The company’s reported Ebitda is at a similar level to the prior year. The growth in turnover noted above is offset in the year by the additional costs of integrating the acquired Pinto business and establishing the new restaurants. However, as these sites mature they are expected to drive significant Ebitda growth in future years. The company’s balance sheet position is strong, with cash reserves of about £0.8m at the year end. The company secured a loan facility with Barclays during the year and this funding has supported the latest openings. Since the financial year-end the company has opened its 21st site, in the Meadowhall Centre in Sheffield. The company has committed agreements in place for two further openings over the next 12 months, and will continue to explore other potential site acquisition opportunities.”

Leisure analysts have warned pub and restaurant operators face further squeezes on margins. Simon French, of Cenkos Securities, said: “The Coffer Peach Business Tracker for July shows like-for-like sales growth of 0.6% (prior year 0.3%) indicating a continuing difficult trading environment. Separately, Office for National Statistics data reports 3.0% menu price inflation suggesting volumes are down about 2.5% year-on-year. Total sales growth for the period was 3.7% as new supply remained at about 3%. Pub like-for-like sales increased 0.4% and restaurant like-for-like sales rose 0.9%. Like-for-like sales in London increased 0.5% and the rest of the country saw a 0.7% like-for-like rise. We expect demand to continue to remain under pressure given declining real household disposable incomes. Furthermore, margins remain under considerable pressure with food input price inflation reaching 5.8% in July. Jamie Rollo, of Morgan Stanley, added: The sector may have benefited from an increase in summer staycations due to the weak pound (and good June weather), or it may be further evidence of consumers prioritising experiences and services over goods and ‘stuff’. However, we question how long this is sustainable and note heavy cost pressures mean a growing number of restaurant companies seem to be getting into financial difficulties.”

Nick House, founder of MahikiNightclub brand Mahiki will open its first UK site outside London next month after teaming up with former Manchester United and England footballer Gary Neville and his company GG Hospitality. The club will open at One Central Street featuring two rooms – Mahiki Manchester, which will open at 11pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays with exotic dancers, music and cocktails, and a cocktail lounge that will open daily at 5pm. Neville said: “We are excited to bring Mahiki to Manchester. It has long been known in London and overseas for offering a unique, fun experience and now Manchester will be able to offer that too. Mahiki is a celebrated nightspot and we know the people of Manchester will not be disappointed. It will add a new exciting vibe to the ever-growing nightlife scene in the city centre.” Mahiki co-founder Piers Adam added: “This is a city with community at its core and we are thrilled to partner with one of Manchester’s own, Gary Neville.” Zerum Consult acted as planning consultants on behalf of GG Hospitality and Mahiki. Meanwhile, Adam has axed plans to open a venue within Glasgow Rangers Football Club’s Ibrox stadium. Adam, David Phelps and Nick House (pictured) launched Mahiki in London in 2005, followed by a Dubai venue in 2011 and recent openings in Marbella and Sardinia. Mahiki will also launch a site in Kensington next month in partnership with Jake Parkinson Smith, Fraser Carruthers and Carlo Carello, the men behind private members’ club Albert’s.

Inbound tourism numbers returned to growth in June as they increased 7.4% year-on-year, according to the latest data from the British Hospitality Association’s (BHA) Travel Monitor. The figure represented a significant improvement on the 2% year-on-year decrease seen in May. However the growth is still below the 13% increase seen in the first four months of 2017. The monitor showed continued growth from North America with visitor numbers up 34%, while short-haul travel growth remained subdued with traveller numbers from Europe up only 2%. The number of UK residents travelling abroad for their holidays increased 7%, rebounding from the 5% decline in May, which the BHA said could indicate a potentially weaker domestic staycation market in the UK. Holiday visitors grew 21% but business travellers continue to decline, down 7% year-on-year for June. Overall UK spend by overseas residents was up 2%. BHA chief executive Ufi Ibrahim said: “It’s positive to see visitors returning to the UK after a difficult May. The latest BHA Travel Monitor shows inbound travel from Europe in June was only up 2% in spite of the weak pound, showing the UK cannot build its tourism strategy on currency fluctuations. With business travel down 7%, the government must ensure the UK remains open for business by immediately reducing the rate of tourism VAT, which is double that of our European competitors. We welcome the suggestion the government has taken BHA policy onboard and aims to retain visa-free access for EU visitors, who make up two-thirds of all visitors to Britain, after Brexit. The UK must also take advantage of growing global tourism and further tap into new markets, reforming non-EU tourist visa systems too.”

Oakman Inns and Restaurants has been named a winner of The Princess Royal Training Award, the first pub group to receive the honour. Organised by the City & Guilds Group, the awards recognise UK employers that create “outstanding training and skills development programmes that result in exceptional commercial benefits”. Oakman will be one of 40 companies honoured by The Princess Royal at a ceremony in the autumn. Oakman Inns and Restaurants HR director Jill Scatchard said: “This is a recognition of the time and effort Oakman Inns has invested in creating its in-house online training academy, Oakmanology. Its skill development modules are taken by everyone from the main board down and, since we introduced it four years ago, it has helped reduce staff turnover by 43%.” Oakman chief executive Peter Borg-Neal added: “We are a people business. We want them to be passionate and proud of what they do and, having just completed on our 20th pub, we are committed to continuing the development of our range of training schemes.”

The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has praised the positive effect London’s night tube has had on eating and drinking out businesses in the capital a year on from its launch. The ALMR said the service had given the sector confidence in an otherwise burdensome operating environment, providing a “positive chance for growth”. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The launch of the night tube not only gave confidence to the sector that London was serious about helping the night-time economy, it also provided a welcome boon for customers, employers and employees working in late-night venues. When business rates, employment costs and foodservice inflation are increasing pressures on eating and drinking out venues, the night tube has provided a positive chance for growth. Even in the early months of the night tube, late-night restaurant bookings were up by one-fifth with no evidence of harm or disorder. That has likely risen further over the summer and tourist season. London has one of the most attractive late-night hospitality offerings in the world and the night tube has given more people access to first-class pubs, bars and restaurants. The night tube also makes it easier for late-night customers and staff to get home. For workers in particular, this can make the difference between being able to work a shift or not. The importance of strong trading around the clock cannot be understated – daytime and night-time licensed venues support each other and the surrounding retail outlets as well. These all add up to being massive drivers in the capital’s economy.”

Companies like to plan ahead when organising a works Christmas party with more than half (53%) preferring to book at least three months in advance and 42% leaving it no later than a month, according to new research by guest experience management experts HGEM. A survey of more than 1,300 people found timing is key when booking office parties, with almost half of guests (49%) saying the ideal date would be two weeks before Christmas Day. When choosing a venue, half of guests (50%) rate the choice of dishes on the menu as the deciding factor, with restaurants emerging ahead of pubs, hotels and bars as a preferred venue. A spend of between £15 to £30 per head is expected by the majority of guests. During a telephone enquiry, guests expect an efficient booking process, with 68% expecting the call to take fewer than five minutes. The majority (86%) of guests expect to be asked about a deposit as standard so operators should avoid focusing on this and use the call to provide detailed and engaging information about their offer, HGEM said. HGEM can record calls to provide insight into a team’s performance when taking bookings. The company said hotel brands Malmaison and Hotel du Vin improved their average call score by almost 20% last year. HGEM founding director Sally Whelan said: “You need to be confident every telephone enquiry is being handled professionally and your team has the skills to convert these enquiries into bookings.”

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has given the go-ahead for Heineken’s takeover of Punch. The CMA has accepted proposals by Heineken made earlier this month to sell 30 pubs to address competition concerns in no more than four packages. The CMA stated: “In June, the CMA said Heineken’s proposed purchase of part of the Punch estate could reduce competition in 33 local areas across Great Britain. Before the merger was referred for a further in-depth investigation, the companies were given the opportunity to offer proposals to address these concerns. Heineken has offered to sell pubs in each of the affected areas to preserve competition and ensure customers in these locations do not lose out. Before reaching a final decision, the CMA carefully assessed and consulted publicly on these proposed undertakings. The CMA is satisfied that its concerns have been addressed and has therefore decided that the merger will not be referred for an in-depth phase 2 investigation.” Punch stated: “Punch notes the announcement by the UK Competition and Markets Authority it has accepted undertakings offered by Heineken UK in lieu of referring the proposed disposal of Punch Taverns Holdco (A) to Heineken for a phase 2 investigation.” In February, Punch shareholders overwhelmingly voted to back the deal that would see Heineken and Patron Capital, using newco Vine Acquisitions as a bidding vehicle, acquire Punch. Under the terms of the deal, Heineken would acquire from Patron a portfolio of about 1,900 Punch pubs with Patron retaining an additional 1,329 it would run itself. The deal is expected to be completed by the end of the month.

JT Davies & Sons, the parent company for Henley-based pub operator and brewer Brakspear, increased its turnover during the year ending 31 December 2016 by 14%, to £25.5 million and Ebitda increased 1% to £8.3m. Profit before tax was up by 33% to £6.6m assisted by the successful disposal of three sites during the year. Sales growth came from the managed division, where sales grew by £3.1m to £8.8m, while turnover in the tenanted and leased estate was flat versus 2015. Ebitda growth was in line with expectation, after investment in the company’s growing managed house division, including increasing central headcount and systems capability to enable further openings. The managed business now comprises nine pubs, with three new openings planned within the next 12 months. During 2016, Brakspear acquired the Grapevine Hotel in Stow-on-the-Wold for the managed business, reopening it after a major investment as the Sheep on Sheep Street, a stylish bar and restaurant with 22 boutique bedrooms. Also in the Cotswolds, a significant refurbishment and change of management team at the George Townhouse at Shipston-on-Stour has led to a number of prestigious award wins. Elsewhere, the Anglers Retreat in Staines transferred from the leased estate and reopened as the Retreat, while the Bull on Bell Street in Henley – Brakspear’s first managed pub – received a major refurbishment. Within the tenanted and leased estate, Brakspear recently exchanged contracts on one pub, and continues to look for further acquisitions. It sold three sites during the year as part of its pub disposal programme, two of which had been closed for a long time, while the third was bought by a local residents group. The T&L estate currently stands at 123 sites. Brakspear invested a total of £6.9m in its pub estate during 2016, including the managed house acquisition and developments. Chief executive Tom Davies said: “2016 was a good year for Brakspear. Our core tenanted and leased business continues to trade very well, benefitting from several years of investment in design, marketing, training and tenant recruitment. We have some of the best pubs in the T&L sector, run by some of the most talented operators. Our managed division is contributing in line with expectation. Major investment in the people and infrastructure is allowing us to accelerate the development of this side of our business, and puts us in a strong position for further expansion. Inevitably, this had an impact on Ebitda, but it was the right decision.”

Peter Martin, CGA PeachBritain’s managed pubs and restaurants saw collective like-for-like sales up 0.6% in July compared with last year, the Coffer Peach Business Tracker has revealed. There was little difference between trading inside and outside the M25, with London ahead 0.5% compared with a 0.7% like-for-like increase for the rest of the country. Restaurant chains just edged ahead of pub groups in performance, showing a collective 0.9% like-for-like growth rate against 0.4% for pub and bar operators. “It’s an essentially flat market out there, with the modest 0.6% growth rate exactly the same as we saw in June,” said Peter Martin (pictured), vice-president of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the tracker in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM. “Despite all the media talk of fragile consumer confidence, it appears the British are continuing to go out to eat and drink as much as they did last year, which is good news. However, the increased cost pressures operators across the sector face this year, particularly from increases in business rates and food costs, means margins are being squeezed and businesses are feeling the pinch. Operators have been looking for efficiencies but also increasing prices to mitigate rising costs. According to CGA’s latest Business Confidence Survey this summer, more than 80% of operators have introduced at least some price rises this year, with a third implementing them across the board. These latest trading figures show those rises haven’t stopped the public spending, but neither have they significantly boosted income for operators. It remains a tough market.” Total sales growth in July among the 37 companies in the tracker cohort was 3.7%, reflecting the continuing if more subdued effect of new openings over the year. The underlying annual sales trend shows sector like-for-likes running at 1.6% ahead for the 12 months to the end of July. Trevor Watson, executive director, valuations, at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “The market is essentially stable, with little dynamic movement in any of the sub-markets, geographically or by sector. The good weather in July should have benefited wet-led venues, which makes the relatively strong figures from the restaurant sector encouraging.” Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM UK, added: “These latest figures will be greeted with a degree of relief by operators. Despite household budgets becoming increasingly stretched, consumers continue to indulge in eating and drinking out. We’ve seen businesses that develop exciting and affordable concepts outpacing competitors and attracting investors keen to support ambitious roll-out plans.”

Veeno in LeedsItalian wine cafe Veeno has become the first restaurant brand to open at the £30m Bell Court complex in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. The company, led by Nino Caruso and Andrea Zecchino, has opened the 90-seat cafe on the ground floor of the development, beneath the new Everyman Cinema that launched in June. It is the company’s 12th venue and first in the West Midlands. Veeno will be joined by Nando’s, which will open its venue on Wednesday (23 August), as well as better burger brand Byron, Mitchells & Butlers brands Miller & Carter and All Bar One, and Azzurri Group-owned ASK Italian. Zecchino said: “Bell Court is a great location and we’re very excited to be part of this development.” Veeno plans to have expanded to 80 sites by the end of 2020.

CPL Training Group has launched a tool that enables businesses to validate documents to prove a person’s identity and right to work status. Supported by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), PeopleSearch has been launched to safeguard businesses against Home Office regulations, which can include a fine of up to £20,000 per illegal worker and a five-year prison sentence. Accessed via a web link, PeopleSearch validates an individual’s right to work entitlement by enabling employers to enter personal details, upload ID documents, and verify document authenticity. The tool screens details against a host of cloud-stored data that is sourced securely from an accredited partner to produce an instant “pass” or “fail” result. If a search is inconclusive, further checks can be undertaken. PeopleSearch validates a wide range of details including driving licence, ID card, passport and travel visa numbers. The tool offers three levels of search structure plus a corporate search recommended for high volumes. CPL Training Group chief executive Daniel Davies said: “Within licensed retail and hospitality, it’s difficult for companies to ensure each employee is entitled to work in the UK. Without a sustainable and reliable solution in place, it doesn’t matter how rigorous your due diligence procedures are because it’s not always enough to escape Home Office penalties. The PeopleSearch database is one of the most important products we have launched. Businesses can validate an individual’s right to work status in an instant – saving time and safeguarding compliance with UK law.” ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls added: “This is a very useful resource that will provide employers with the confidence and reassurance they need when employing non-UK workers. This is particularly relevant to the UK’s eating and drinking out sector, which is so reliant on non-UK talent. PeopleSearch will provide employers with peace of mind, which is particularly useful during this time of political and economic uncertainty regarding Brexit and the ongoing debate regarding the status of non-UK employees.”

HMSHost International has opened the first UK airport site for KFC, at Manchester airport's Terminal ThreeKFC has opened its first site at a UK airport. HMSHost International, which operates food and beverage concessions in airports, has opened the site in the departures lounge of Manchester airport’s Terminal Three, creating 50 jobs. KFC serves its breakfast menu until 10am while the full menu is also available – from 4am until last flight. HMSHost International chief executive Walter Seib said: “This agreement with KFC marks a significant milestone in our strategy to increase our footprint in the rapidly expanding and dynamic UK market place through a strong international brand. We’re delighted to open this popular concept as part of the ongoing development of Terminal Three.” Manchester Airport commercial director Stephen Turner added: “We are delighted to launch the first KFC airside at a UK airport and I am sure the outlet will be incredibly popular with our passengers in Terminal Three.” HMSHost operates four other stores in Terminal Three, which sees more than 8.5 million passengers through its gates each year.

Buca di PizzaLeeds-based Atlas Pub Co has signed a deal to bring its Buca di Pizza concept to Hull. The company, founded by brothers Geoff and Nick Thornton, has agreed a deal with developer Wykeland Group to open a site in the city’s £80m Fruit Market development. The pizzeria and bar will open in Humber Street following an investment of £175,000. The 1,900 square foot venue will have 80 covers inside with seating outside for up to 20 diners. Geoff Thornton said: “The Fruit Market area has such an interesting and very European feel. The developer, Wykeland Beal, has a clear vision and there are new retail, galleries and venues opening all the time. We’re retaining many of the original features, such as the tiled floor, and it will have a lovely rustic feel.” In June, the Thorntons said they were focused on growing the Buca Di Pizza brand to ten restaurants across the M62 corridor in the next three years. The first site opened in Leeds in late 2014, followed by a second in the city’s grade II-listed Stratford House last year and a third, in Manchester, in June. The company is also set to open a venue in Beverley, Yorkshire. Wykeland Beal and Buca Di Pizza both dealt direct.

Artist impression of Canova Hall, Albion and East's new site in BrixtonAlbion and East Group, which is supported by The Imbiba Partnership, will open its second site next month, in Brixton. The company is launching Canova Hall in Ferndale Road on Friday, 22 September. The 4,579 square foot bar and restaurant, which will have 200 covers in total, will focus on the building’s history as a workers’ canteen. Split over basement and ground floor, the market-style venue will offer a relaxed workspace environment with hot-desking, fast Wi-Fi and coffee during the day before transforming into a late-night venue. As well as hand-made pizzas from a wood-fired oven, the venue will offer food inspired by Italian street vendors and homemade pasta. Customers will be able to use a cocktail trolley to mix their own drinks or “book a bartender”, who will create cocktails at their table. As with Albion and East Group’s debut site, Martello Hall in Hackney, Canova Hall will feature an on-site gin distillery. Last month, founder Sarah Weir told Propel the company aims to open two sites next year.

JD Wetherspoon is to open its largest pub later this month, a £4.5m “super Spoons” in Ramsgate in Kent (population 40,400). The Royal Victoria Pavilion will open on Tuesday, 29 August creating 150 jobs on the site of the Victorian pavilion building in Harbour Parade that has previously housed a casino, dance hall, bar and nightclub. The pub will be Wetherspoon’s largest, with a customer area of almost 11,000 square foot, plus ground-floor and first-floor terraces. The grade II-listed building has been carefully restored, keeping as close as possible to the original concept completed in 1903. A zinc roof has been installed in keeping with the original building while circular windows have been reinstalled. Manager Charlotte Mason told Kent Live: “We are confident (the pub) will be a great addition to the Ramsgate community.” Meanwhile, the company has submitted plans to open a pub at New Street train station in Birmingham city centre. The group has submitted a licence application for a unit at Hammerson’s Grand Central shopping centre that has been vacant since the development launched two years ago.

Bradford Brewery has reopened city centre pub Exchange Ale House, which has lain empty for four years, for its first permanent site outside its brewery tap. The company has taken on a lease from Trust Inns for the bar, which is below the grade I-listed Wool Exchange in Market Street. The pub has undergone extensive refurbishment, with the vaulted ceiling and flagstone floor retained. The bar allows Bradford Brewery to showcase its Made Of Bradford merchandise alongside a selection of its keg and cask ales and a hot food offer. In June, Bradford Brewery announced it had doubled sales following a “refocus” as the company ramps up to reach the “next level”. As well as the new bar, the company is looking to offer a more extensive programme of events at its brewery tap site as it looks to “develop other revenue streams”.

Cut Tourism VAT Campaign chairman and Butlin’s boss Dermot King has said the current political climate is the best opportunity to reduce tourism VAT to 5%. King pointed to the Conservative-DUP Confidence and Supply Agreement, which pledged to undertake detailed research into the impact of VAT on tourism in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party and others, including Sinn Fein, support a reduction in tourism VAT (currently 20% in the UK). In the Republic of Ireland, the rate is only 9%. King criticised the government for not giving the tourism industry the recognition it deserves by continuing to levy VAT on visitor accommodation and attractions at 20%, almost double the rate of European rival destinations. In 2016, the World Economic Forum ranked the UK as the second-least price competitive nation regarding tourism out of 136 countries. Hospitality and tourism is the UK’s fourth-largest industry, employing more than 4.6 million people. The campaign has the backing of 126 MPs across all political parties and leading select committees, alongside three national newspapers and 46,000 businesses nationwide.

Propel will host Professor Chris Muller, the leading thinker, teacher and author on multi-site foodservice management in the US, at its next Multi-site Management Masterclass. It takes place on Friday, 29 September at One Moorgate Place in London and is open for bookings. Leading UK businesses such as Mitchells & Butlers and TGI Friday’s have sent staff to be taught by Professor Muller at Boston University’s School of Hospitality – now Professor Muller is returning to the UK to lead this bespoke day. The event will provide valuable insights for founders and area managers of small and medium-sized multi-site companies and area managers of large companies. The sessions will include building the case for strategic growth, developing multi-unit managers from players to coaches and a discussion on the importance transition plays in the practice of management and leadership. Mastering Multi-Units founder Lee Sheldon will also talk about how to successfully drive profitable growth for your business. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium members, £345 plus VAT for operators and £445 plus VAT for suppliers. To book tickets, email Anne Steele at

This year’s Bar and Nightclub Conference, organised by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and Propel, is now open for bookings. It takes place on Monday, 9 October at Bafta, Piccadilly. It will be followed by the Dusk ’til Dawn Awards for bar and nightclub operators at Cafe de Paris in the evening. Speakers at the event will include Jamie Campbell, who heads up the retail business at CGA Strategy, which has retailer specialist CGA Peach as a division, who will reveal details of usage, areas of growth, food and drink trends, and evolution within the UK bar and nightclub market. Philip Kolvin QC, head of Cornerstone Barristers and chairman of the London Night Time Commission, will give his views on London’s late-night economy and legal and licensing challenges around the UK. Scott Matthews, chief executive of CG Restaurants, will explain the success of the company’s Dirty Martini cocktail brand, its USPs, staff training and marketing methods, and its regional expansion plans. Stephen Thomas, godfather of the UK nightclub and bar scene, will offer reflections on the evolving bar and nightclub scene and predict how things will change in the next decade. Peter Marks, chief executive of Deltic Group, will talk about evolving the company’s estate, the growing importance of social media and entertainment to drive footfall, and the results of Deltic’s own research into the late-night market. Aaron Mellor, founder and chief executive of 36-strong bar and nightclub Tokyo Industries, will talk about the company’s expansion into experiential leisure with a festival, The Lost Village, hosting Boogie Wonderland in Ibiza in partnership with Ferran Adria and Cirque du Soleil, and developments in the UK market. Dan Davies, chairman of the Institute of Licensing and CPL Training chief executive, will talk to Peter Stringfellow about his career operating late-night venues. The speaker schedule will conclude with ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls talking to John Gaunt of John Gaunt Solicitors, Allan Harper of Burning Night Group, Toby Smith of Novus Leisure, Pleisure chief executive Nick Griffin, Sugar Hut chief executive Terry Pullen, and Robert Humphreys, vice-chairman of Best Bar None, about the current trading and regulatory regime. Tickets for the Bar and Nightclub Conference are £89 plus VAT for operators who are ALMR members and £129 plus VAT for non-ALMR members. Supplier tickets are £165 plus VAT for ALMR members and £225 plus VAT for non-ALMR members. For the Dusk ’til Dawn Awards, tickets are £150 plus VAT for ALMR members and £195 plus VAT for non-ALMR members. Tickets for both events can be booked by emailing Jo Charity at

Propel’s fourth annual Operators and Investors Dinner is to be held on Monday, 11 September at the Banking Hall in the City of London and is open for bookings. The event is a chance for expanding operators of multi-site foodservice companies to mix with attendees from the banking, private equity and investment community to expand their network of contacts. Tickets are £120 plus VAT and can be booked by emailing or calling 01444 817691.  

Nominations have opened for the 2017 Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) Late Night Awards, with the winners announced at this year’s Dusk ’til Dawn event on Monday, 9 October at London’s Café de Paris. The Late Night Awards will follow the annual Bar and Nightclub Conference for the late-night sector and night-time industries at BAFTA in Piccadilly Circus, with both events held in association with Propel. Nominations can be made via the ALMR website in the following categories – late-night food, late-night drink, late-night entertainment, service and team development, marketing and promotions, and best new venue. They are open to hospitality venues trading beyond midnight, including pubs, bars and restaurants as well as nightclubs and live music venues. Initial nominations of self or peers need to be submitted by Friday, 8 September. Nominations should be for the company rather than individual outlet, with the exception of the best new venue category. The top three in each category will be announced in advance of the ceremony, where the winners will be crowned. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The UK’s late-night sector encompasses so many varied and innovative businesses, from nightclubs to restaurants, incorporating a fantastic, dynamic range of entertainment from live music to cabaret. The Late Night Awards is an annual celebration of this fantastic sector. Nominations are open to ALMR members and non-members and we encourage businesses to get involved and celebrate the venues that contribute so much culturally and economically. This is a fantastic opportunity to spotlight some of the best we have to offer.” Tickets are £89 plus VAT for operators who are ALMR members and £129 plus VAT for non-ALMR members. Supplier tickets are £165 plus VAT for ALMR members and £225 plus VAT for non-ALMR members. To book tickets, call Jo Charity on 01444 810304 or email To enter your nominations, click here

BII NITAs 2017The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) has partnered with Propel and CPL Training Group for the industry’s premier awards night for training achievement in the pub and restaurant sector. Entries are now open for the National Innovation in Training Awards (NITAs), with the ceremony taking place on Tuesday, 21 November at Café de Paris in central London. The NITAs recognise those companies and individuals that really care about their employees, helping them to achieve improvements in training and standards. The categories are as follows: best training programme (leased and tenanted companies under 200 outlets), best training programme (leased and tenanted companies more than 200 outlets), best managed training programme (companies under 50 outlets), best managed training programme (companies more than 50 outlets), trainer of the year, best apprenticeship training programme, and best casual dining training programme. To enter, candidates should visit and select NITAs, register their details, and pick their category or categories. Candidates can enter more than one category. The deadline for entries is Friday, 1 September. Each category will have a judging panel consisting of industry experts to decide who has shown the best knowledge, understanding and enthusiasm for their respective category. Finalists will be announced before the end of September and will need to be available on Thursday, 19 October to attend the NITAs finals judging day. In addition, The Franca Knowles Lifetime Achievement will be chosen by a panel led by Keith Knowles, chief executive and founder of Beds and Bars. This award will identify and recognise an individual who leads by example and demonstrates that training and people are at the core of what they do. This is an industry recognition award rather than a category open for entries and is in memory of the late Franca Knowles, Keith Knowles’ wife, who herself was a multiple winner of NITAs awards and was passionate about people and training. BII chief executive Mike Clist said: “We’re very excited to launch the 2017 competition. The NITAs are a key platform that not only help us highlight how vital the training and development of staff is to our industry, but crucially demonstrate that hospitality can offer individuals a rewarding and varied career – it’s so much more than just a job.” CPL Training Group chief executive Daniel Davies added: “It’s a pleasure to be working alongside the BII and Propel to launch this year’s NITAs. Hospitality has always been a trailblazer of learning and development – an industry that equips employees with the skills they need to progress and realise their career potential. The NITAs is the ultimate benchmark for training ingenuity in the industry – rewarding individuals and businesses who deliver outstanding mentorship and development for their people.”

Propel has partnered with WE ARE Spectacular founder and group chief executive Mark McCulloch to launch the Social Media for Profit masterclass. This social media “boot camp” will give attendees the knowledge to go toe-to-toe with their marketing department, team and social media agency while helping them add value to their social media strategy. The half-day event takes place on Thursday, 14 September at One Moorgate Place in London and will give delegates insights into how to build their sales and brand using social media. McCulloch will explain how the social media game has changed as well as providing an in-depth introduction to the different channels, their purpose and the new social media landscape. The event will also include sessions on each of the main social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and how they should be used to drive sales as well as target potential customers with the right message. The boot camp will also include a session on how to tackle a social media disaster, from tiny blips to a national crisis. Tickets are £345 + VAT for operators, £445 + VAT for suppliers and £295 + VAT for Propel Premium subscribers. To book a place, email or call 01444 817691.

Subscribers to Propel Premium are receiving a new benefit – a £50 discount on tickets to Propel’s Masterclass series of events in 2017. The series includes The Advanced Social Media Masterclass, The Leadership Masterclass, the Finance and Investment Masterclass, and the Multi-site Management Masterclass. The current free service to all existing readers remains the same but readers can opt to upgrade to receive the Propel Premium service. Propel Premium subscribers also receive the Morning Newsletter, which is sent at 6.30am each weekday, 12 hours earlier at 6.30pm the day before. On 1 March, Propel Premium subscribers will also receive an updated version of the Propel database of multi-site companies, which will add another 200 companies to the existing database of 700 to hit the 900 mark. For operators, annual subscription costs £345 plus VAT, with an extra £50 per additional subscriber at each company. For suppliers, annual subscription costs £445 plus VAT, with an extra £50 per additional subscriber at each company. To subscribe to the Propel Premium service, email

McCain Baner

Social Media For Profits

Social Media For Profits 2017

Thursday, 14 September 2017
1 Moorgate Place, London EC2R 6EA

Mark McCulloch welcomes you to a social media boot camp that will give you the knowledge to go toe-to-toe with your marketing department, team and social media agency helping you add value to your social media strategy.

To find out more CLICK HERE

Chris Muller

Multi-Site Management Masterclass

Friday, 29 September 2017
1 Moorgate Place, London EC2R 6EA

The Leader of Managers – Masterclass
Leading in a Multi-Unit, Multi-Site & Multi-Concept World. A full day conference led by Christopher C. Muller, Ph.D.

To find out more CLICK HERE

Propel Multi Club July 2017

Propel Multi Club Conference & Summer Party

6th July 2017

To view the pictures CLICK HERE


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Propel Quarterly Summer 2017


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