Star Pubs & Bars

Story of the Day:

Jamie Rollo – no quick caffeine fix for Whitbread, ten questions

CostaMorgan Stanley leisure analyst Jamie Rollo has said Whitbread investors need to believe in more than a demerger of Costa Coffee to make an outsized return. Issuing an ‘Equal-weight’ rating with a target price of 4,200p, Rollo said: “Whitbread’s plan to demerge Costa Coffee is commendable we think, even though we always thought it was likely. The focus yesterday (Wednesday, 25 April) was on the timing of the split, which the company said could take up to 24 months (though pursued as fast as practical), but which activist shareholder Elliott said should be achieved within six months. We think Whitbread gave a reasonably solid defence of its longer timetable, which includes completing a series of complex IT and business system upgrades that depend on group shared resources, delivering the efficiency programme at a time of high inflation and increasing product innovation, and (likely simpler) negotiations with pension trustees, bondholders and landlords. We would add time gives optionality for an operational turnaround and/or to take part in industry consolidation. While we think the company probably could achieve the demerger faster than two years, given the shares are trading in-line with our sum-of-the-parts valuation, and visibility is low on the complexity of the company’s internal systems and efficiency plans, we do not see much upside from pushing for a very rapid separation. We were admittedly surprised Whitbread’s shares did not perform better after the announcement (they ended down 0.2%), not least as it could ignite Costa takeover speculation. However, the shares were already up 15% from their recent lows, and the demerger rumour was speculated in the weekend papers. More fundamentally, Whitbread already trades at our £42 sum-of-the-parts. This values Costa at £2.5bn (post trimming our forecasts) based on 9.5 times Feb-20e Ebitda (in the middle of Greggs and Starbucks) and equivalent to 19 times price-to-earnings ratio (assuming it is demerged debt-free). We think this is generous enough given it is seeing weak like-for-like and margins. We value Premier Inn & Restaurants at £7.4bn (including all plc central costs), based on ten times Feb-20e Ebitda (in-line with the European hotel average) and equivalent to 16 times price-to-earnings ratio (assuming it takes all the debt and pension). We think this is conservative for what we think is probably the world’s best-listed hotel company (taking its leading metrics for occupancy, TripAdvisor score, online travel agencies mix, unit growth, and freehold mix), but revpar is negative, and the UK outlook is weak. Our bull case on Costa is £3.4bn, which uses a sum-of-the-parts valuing UK equity at nine times, UK/international franchise at 12 to 14 times, machines at 12 times, and China at £0.3bn (currently loss-making). While this is 36% above our base case, it would only add 12% to the Whitbread share price. Hence, we think shareholders would need to see either a takeover of Costa, or a more aggressive multiple on hotels (perhaps with a property disposal), neither of which are fundamental reasons to own the stock (and neither of which the activists seem to be demanding). While the FY18 results were in-line with our expectations, the company reported its weakest fourth-quarter like-for-like sales figure since the 2009 crisis, with hotel revpar -1.5% and Costa UK equity store like-for-likes -1.8% (-2.5% on its previous definition). This makes us worry how weak revenues could get in the next downturn if they are negative now, at a time of high employment and solid GDP growth, and the company may not have much cost cushion left given the significant £250m efficiency plan. Some of this like-for-like weakness is due to the internal cannibalisation of the business (the company quotes a 1.4% impact from new capacity in the 25% of catchments seeing capacity growth, implying -4% revpar here versus +1.7% in unaffected catchments), and it was encouraging to see return on capital increase, and the company beat its margin targets. Still, the like-for-like sales deterioration in the second half is concerning, and we doubt the first-quarter results will provide much relief given the impact of the bad weather on trading in March, a tough environment in London, and relatively tough comparables in each division. Our headline forecasts do not change for FY19, but we tweak the mix to downgrade Costa offset by an upgrade of hotels (all efficiencies), and nudge down earnings per share over FY20-21 by 1% to 2%. We set out some questions we think investors might like to ask management over the next few weeks.

1. Why could a demerger take up to 24 months? Can the company give more detail on the timing and quantum of the action it is taking on technology and efficiency to give a sense of when they will be complete? Is the company giving itself time to turn around the business, and/or take part in industry consolidation?

2. Would Whitbread consider selling Costa as an alternative? Has it received any interest? How would it evaluate offers, and how does it value Costa as a demerged entity?

3. How should we think about the allocation of debt, pension deficit, and plc costs between the businesses? Are there any friction costs such as additional central costs or tax?

4. What would management’s response be to additional activist demands such as operational improvements, or real estate disposals?

5. Why were fourth-quarter like-for-likes negative despite a robust economy? What does this imply for the company’s sales performance in the next downturn? Are there any further efficiency gains that could be gleaned?

6. How would the company respond to a downturn in the UK economy and/or a ‘hard’ Brexit? Might it consider slowing the pace of expansion in either hotels or coffee shops, given it is cannibalising itself? Would it consider buying back shares or increasing its dividend more if it stops expanding and free cash flow improves materially?

7. Why did Costa’s like-for-like sales weaken to -2% in the fourth quarter despite the easier comparable and benefit from its food offer? The company saw encouraging growth in its new food lines, but high street footfall weakened, so can it break down like-for-likes between newer and mature stores, food and drink, high street versus other? What is management’s view on when like-for-like sales might turn positive?

8. What is the scope to expand Costa Express (machines) into other UK markets (eg corporate vending) and overseas? What are the economics of UK versus international machines? Why did the company pull out of Canada?

9. Why is Costa China still loss-making and when is it expected to break even? How confident is it in its target of 1,200 stores by 2020, given it missed its 2016 target of 500 and 2018 target of 700 (450 currently)? With £5m additional cost going in this year, and a changing mix to less profitable stores, how confident is it in its target for £20 to £25m Ebit from Costa International?

10. In hotels, how will the company cover its weighted average cost of capital on the recent £250m Foremost deal? We estimate Premier Inn generates roughly £3,000 Ebit/leased room in the UK, implying a less than 3% return on capital expenditure on the acquisitions roughly 3,000 leased rooms. How much capex does it need to invest at its target 10% return on capital expenditure in order to meet its weighted average cost of capital overall in Germany?”

Domino’s Pizza reports UK like-for-likes up 7%

Domino'sDomino’s Pizza has reported UK like-for-like sales were up 7% for the 13 weeks to 1 April 2018 with system sales increasing 10.6%. The company opened nine stores in the UK during the quarter taking it to 1,054 outlets at the end of the period. It continues to expect to open 65 to 75 Uk stores during 2018. UK and Ireland system sales were up 10.4% to £285.5m. UK online sales were up 16.2% year-on-year, representing 78.9% of system sales in the first quarter. Total group system sales increased 18.3% to £311.1m. The company now has 1,203 stores group-wide. The company also reported improving system sales performances in international businesses. The Republic of Ireland delivered 5.2% year-on-year growth while Switzerland delivered 17.6% year-on-year. In Norway, like-for-like sales were up 10.3% and it is continuing its Dolly Dimple’s conversions with 33 Domino’s-branded outlets trading at the period end. In Germany it completed the acquisition of Hallo Pizza and the integration process has begun. Chief executive David Wild said: “The year has started well, with continued good growth in all of our markets. In the UK, customers are responding very positively to our clearer value proposition, with strong scores for value for money and overall satisfaction. We have also made excellent operational progress, with the rapid roll-out of GPS continuing. I am encouraged by our international operations, which are gaining scale as more customers grow to love our great tasting pizzas.”

Other News:

Ten Entertainment Group's Tenpin venue in CardiffThe owner and executive members of Ten Entertainment Group have sold a 15% stake in the tenpin bowling operator. Private equity firm Harwood Capital Harwood Capital has sold 8,921,834 ordinary shares of 1p each, chairman Nick Basing has sold 450,000 ordinary shares, chief executive Alan Hand has sold 217,037 ordinary shares and chief commercial officer Graham Blackwell, has sold 130,798 ordinary shares. Ten Entertainment Group stated: “In aggregate the sellers have sold 9,719,669 ordinary shares representing 15.0% of Ten Entertainment Group’s existing issued share capital, at a price of 240p per share. The placing was conducted through an accelerated bookbuild. Numis and Peel Hunt acted as joint bookrunners for the sellers in connection with the placing. The proceeds of the placing are payable in cash on usual settlement terms.”

London brewer and retailer Fuller’s will host the inaugural London Brewers’ Alliance Craft Beer Festival on Saturday, 23 June at its Griffin Brewery in Chiswick, west London. The festival will be attended by more than 40 of London’s best breweries. Each brewery will be pouring two lines of beer showcasing the depth and breadth of the London beer scene. John Keeling, Fuller’s global ambassador and chairman of the London Brewers Alliance, said: “Finally – a beer festival at Fuller’s. This is something I have wanted to see since my first day at the brewery – 30-something years ago. A bit like a good beer – these things should be done right and cannot be rushed. I am delighted the London Brewers Alliance wanted to work with us on this and I am looking forward to welcoming nearly all the London brewers to Fuller’s Brewery and tasting their beers. I am proud to be the chairman of the London Brewers Alliance. The enthusiasm of the members to work with all London breweries to improve quality, share information, and ultimately help each other make better beer, strikes a chord with me and I am eager to ensure London continues to grow its reputation as a hub and centre of amazing UK craft beer.”

Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has said Mitchells & Butlers’ momentum from its reinvestment programme is continuing to build. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of 325p, Jack said: “Like-for-like sales are critical due to high operational leverage, which includes £0.6bn of annual wages (equivalent to 28% of turnover, and rising). With circa £26m of the £60m of incremental cost pressure being mitigated, we estimate Mitchells & Butlers needs 2.5% like-for-like sales to hold like-for-like profits, and that every 1% difference in like-for-like sales equates to a 5% change in profits. The fruits of labour are starting to be reflected in like-for-like sales via spend per head and premiumisation. Like-for-like drink sales have outperformed like-for-like food sales over the past two years, and total like-for-like sales have outperformed the Coffer Peach Business Tracker (CPBT) during each of the past six quarters. In the first quarter of 2018, the 2.2% increase in like-for-like sales compares with a 0.4% increase in the CPBT, despite Mitchells & Butlers being less dependent on discounting than many competitors. Drivers of like-for-like sales and cost mitigation include electronic labour time-monitoring, which saves management time; pre-night preparation, auto-ordering and better stock control reducing stock take times, improving accuracy, reducing wastage and freeing up management time; and investment in technology making at-table ordering available and helping online bookings to treble in the past two years. We believe estate reinvestment has had the biggest impact on like-for-like sales. This includes repositioning many sites to the 100-strong Miller & Carter brand, raising spend per head from £9 to £20 in Harvester conversions, resulting in lower volume but “dramatically” higher profits. The shortened refurbishment (reduced from ten to 12 years to six to seven) should drive like-for-like sales over the next three years, during which the share of sites that are uninvested should drop from 44% to just 20% of the estate. Indicators of the progress Mitchells & Butlers made last year were a 2.6% improvement in like-for-like sales, a 7.8% improvement in net promoter score, a 24% increase in the TripAdvisor response rate, and a 5.8% increase in double five safety ratings. Mitchells & Butlers is valued on 7.8 times EV/Ebitda for a circa 85% freehold, circa 40% south east England-based estate. It would be 6.8 times if we exclude the pension deficit, which we believe would be wiped out if bond yields rise by 150 basis points. In our view, growing like-for-like sales can drive attractive growth and re-rating upside, increasing the £4 a share net asset value through asset (£4.4bn gross) appreciation and net debt (£1.75bn) reduction.”

The Propel summer conference and party on Thursday, 5 July at The Oxford Belfry is open for bookings. 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. James Baer, managing director of Amber Taverns, will set out the company’s progress in creating a 130-plus estate of community pubs, the strengths of its management model, its investment criteria, the development of its Hogarths Victorian-style gin palace brand, and future plans. Operators can claim up to two free places by emailing anne.steele@propelinfo.com or calling her on 01444 817691.

Walmart is to add British-born McDonald’s chief executive Steve Easterbrook to its board in a bid to bring in an adviser with experience abroad. Easterbrook will replace Instagram founder Kevin Systrom, who is departing after four years to prioritise work and other outside commitments. Easterbrook started as an accountant but has spent most of his career in the restaurant industry. He joined McDonald’s in 1993, working his way up from financial reporting manager to run its European operations. He left McDonald’s in 2011 to run UK chains PizzaExpress and Wagamama but returned to McDonald’s in 2013, becoming chief executive two years later.

Too Good To Go logoFood retailers across the UK are throwing away 382,775 perfectly edible meals every day, according to findings by online surplus food startup Too Good To Go, with “considerable financial implications” for UK businesses. With figures suggesting the average waste disposal cost per meal is 97p, the total cost of food waste for outlets is about £371,292 a day or £2,599,042 a week across the UK. Too Good To Go added that when calculated globally, if food waste that went to landfill was a country it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China. Too Good To Go is highlighting the issue ahead of Stop Food Waste Day on Friday (27 April). The company allows stores to sell surplus food at discount prices via its free app. Operators to sign up include YO! Sushi and Chop’d. Too Good To Go co-founder Jamie Crummie said: “What we perceive as waste often isn’t ‘waste’ at all – it’s perfectly good food that gets thrown away because it hasn’t sold. If every store in the UK joined the platform and everyone living here rescued just one meal a month, there would be no retail food waste in the UK.”

Stonegate Pub Company has reopened former Irish bar Molloy’s in Colchester as “current and quirky new bar” The Centurion following a £250,000 transformation. The pub in North Hill is aimed at students and young professionals, with innovative interiors featuring wall-to-wall murals, mood lighting, and designated workspaces with Wi-Fi hot spots and charging points. The venue will feature live music from Essex artists, while sports fans are catered for alongside speed quizzes, retro games and a “hot wing challenge” where entrants to all events can earn a place in the pub’s “hall of fame”. The 11-strong craft beer and cider wall includes Hop House 13, Brewdog’s Punk IPA and Lilley’s ciders, alongside three cask ales and a selection of niche craft beer, lager and stout as well as tin-can cocktails. General manager Daniel Davis said: “We wanted to create a fun, interactive atmosphere. We can boast the best place in Colchester for live sports viewing but we also offer something for everyone, with food, drink and entertainment on offer all day, every day.” The venue is open from 8am for breakfast, with sharing options served throughout the day. Regular visitors can use the MORE loyalty card to earn points to save money on food and drink. On Saturday (28 April), Stonegate will launch The Birkett Tap in Bristol city centre following a £400,000 refurbishment. It will offer 20 craft beers and ciders from a neon-lit back wall alongside a menu of sourdough pizza and tapas.

McDonald’s has opened a one-of-a-kind restaurant on the ground floor of its new Chicago headquarters in Randolph Street. The restaurant serves a rotating menu of special items found at the chain’s restaurants in other countries. Dishes include cheese and bacon-loaded fries from Australia, a McSpicy chicken sandwich from Hong Kong and a McFlurry Prestigio from Brazil. The global items are available in addition to the Golden Arches’ regular Big Macs, Chicken McNuggets and Happy Meals. The international items will rotate “every couple months or so”, said Ann Wahlgren, McDonald’s vice-president for global menu strategy. “Everything we have done to modernise the brand over the past several years is exhibited in this restaurant,” added Robert Gibbs, McDonald’s chief spokesman and former press secretary to president Barack Obama.

The Tasburgh House Hotel in Bath, which is on the market for in excess of £2mTasburgh House Hotel in Bath has been brought to market by agent Savills on behalf of a private client at a guide price of more than £2m. The 15-bedroom boutique hotel was built by the royal photographer to Queen Victoria in 1891. It offers views of the city of Bath and Avon Valley with a lounge, dining room and bar and sits in 5.8 acres of terraces and a meadow park. The grounds go down to the edge of The Kennet and Avon Canal, while the property is only about two miles from Bath city centre. James Greenslade, associate at Savills hotels, said: “The historic Tasburgh House Hotel presents a fantastic opportunity for a new owner to acquire an established business. The property benefits from a fantastic location in one of the UK’s most popular tourist destinations.”

Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive Kate NichollsUKHospitality has launched its manifesto for the 2018 local elections to provide councils with a series of recommendations to help communities, generate economic growth and support the trade body’s efforts to ensure the sector is Brexit-ready. The recommendations include prioritising hospitality businesses for discretionary business rates relief; ruling out tourist taxes; prioritising partnership working over costly tax and legislation; engaging with hospitality businesses to enhance waste collection, increase recycling and reduce the burden on local businesses; applying the Agent of Change principle in planning decisions; and encouraging local education authorities to promote hospitality as a career. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls (pictured) said: “The key to the future success and health of the UK’s hospitality sector is a positive and proactive working relationship with local authorities. Councils around the UK are in a position to support their local hospitality venues and enhance their neighbourhoods by promoting fun and vibrant community businesses. Hospitality businesses are key to regenerating high streets and supporting valuable jobs but too often businesses don’t seem to receive the support they deserve. Our manifesto for the local elections provides councils with simple and effective actions to ensure hospitality businesses are in the best possible position to grow.”

Wi-Fi solutions provider Wireless Social has reported a 65% increase in its first quarter 2018 turnover compared with last year, as the trend towards using GDPR-compliant data for personalised communications continues to grow. Wireless Social, which now has more than five million active users, allows operators to better understand customer likes and interests through data collected during social Wi-Fi log-ins. So far in 2018, Wireless Social has introduced its Fully-Managed-Service – a bespoke email marketing solution that is “helping operators increase footfall by 32%” – as well as marketing measurement tool Presence, which tracks individual devices through social Wi-Fi log-in. Wireless Social has also seen contract wins this year that include TGI Friday’s, Paul UK and The Rum Kitchen as it “continues to make huge strides in the hospitality space”. Wireless Social managing director Julian Ross said: “We’re very proud and grateful to all the operators that have trusted in us already and promise to continue to pedal even faster to delight them!”

Brighton-based, zero-waste restaurant Silo has launched a fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowd2Fund to upcycle glass bottles into crockeryBrighton-based zero-waste restaurant Silo has launched a fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowd2Fund to upcycle glass bottles into crockery. The fund-raise is Crowd2Fund’s first donations-based campaign, with Silo seeking to raise £10,000 to purchase a bottle “crusher” and jewellery polish to create fine “porcelain” from wine bottles in a unique concept developed by Silo owner and head chef Doug McMaster and potter Mark Caivol. Silo raised £48,000 of equity finance on Crowd2Fund four years ago to incorporate a working relationship with specialist shipping company The Tres Hombres. McMaster said: “The definition of upcycling is to give material a greater value. Turning our waste wine bottles into fine crockery would be a remarkable increase in value. Comparatively, this idea is the same as turning food waste into compost. If we can raise the money to buy the equipment, this will take ‘zero waste’ to a whole new level.”

Staycity has opened its first Wilde aparthotelStaycity Aparthotels has opened a first site for its premium brand – Wilde – in London’s the Strand. The 106-bedroom aparthotel offers guests a choice of studios, superior studios and double rooms over eight floors, including three sky-level studios. The company intends to roll out the Wilde Aparthotels by Staycity brand across gateway city centre locations throughout Europe. The Strand opening will be followed by a 123-apartment site in Edinburgh’s King’s Stables Road at the end of 2019, two properties in Berlin opening in 2019/20, and a 256-apartment site in Manchester’s St Peter’s Square opening in 2020. The Strand venue was officially opened by Staycity chief executive and founder Tom Walsh and Merlin Holland, the only grandson of Oscar Wilde. The Irish playwright and poet has been a major inspiration for the concept. Walsh said: “It is fitting that our first Wilde is close to where Oscar lived in London. It is also opposite the Vaudeville Theatre, currently hosting an Oscar Wilde season, and is a short walk from the Oscar Wilde memorial near Charing Cross.” Holland added: “I’m delighted to be involved with the opening of Wilde. My grandfather took a great interest in aesthetics, particularly in interior design. He memorably said ‘have nothing in your house that is not useful or beautiful’.”

Chief executive Alison Brittain and finance director Nicholas Carbury provide further insight into Whitbread’s full-year results:

Alison Brittain, chief executive of WhitbreadCosta demerger details: Brittain (pictured) said the demerger process would run parallel with the company’s continuing transformation plan. She added it was not envisaged Whitbread would keep a stake in Costa. Brittain said: “Whitbread is in the enviable position of having two high-quality businesses in Premier Inn and Costa that are leaders in their market. We have made enormous progress in the delivery of our UK strategy for both businesses. We have said at the right point in time a separation would enhance focus and optimise value – we believe that time is now. We are even more confident in our plans and will complete the demerger as quickly as appropriate. This opportunity has been talked about for a long time and we have been building the foundations so the businesses can be fantastic in their own right. Costa will become a listed entity in its own right and Whitbread will remain the owner and operator of Premier Inn. It will take a while but we are comfortable with the time-frame. I don’t know of any companies to have gone down a similar path that have been able to do it any quicker, certainly not in the space of a year. There is a lot of work to be done. For example, we have to separate procurement and IT systems, and appoint a management team and board, which will all be done over the next two years.” Brittain said she expected the demerger costs to be in “tens rather than hundreds of millions” but wouldn’t say if the company had received approaches to sell Costa. She said: “We think the demerger of Costa is the best option to create value for shareholders.”

Costa ROI and refurbishment: Costa, which was voted the UK’s favourite coffee shop for an eighth year in a row, is generating a strong return on capital of 46%, which is “ahead of guidance”. Brittain said the company was in the middle of its investment phase and hadn’t carried out as many refurbishments as planned in the past year because it had been working on a new store format. She added: “We will make up for it this year. It’s like the Forth Road Bridge – you have to keep repainting it to keep it fresh.” The average lease term is ten years with a five-year break clause. Brittain said only a small number of stores were loss-making and pointed out footfall on the high street had generally fallen between 3% and 4%. A total of 243 stores were opened during the year while 39 were closed. The company said it was optimising catchment level sales with its various formats and putting more emphasis on drive-thru sites and travel locations. Brittain cited Banbury in Oxfordshire, where the company has 15 sites including Express locations, where it had almost doubled sales from £1.3m to £2.4m in the past three years. The company said 60% of customers “drink in”, while a trial of click and collect was under way at 16 sites, with plans to extend that during the next year. There are now 5.3 million active Costa Club card users and the company plans to trial targeted offers to customers via direct email and through the Costa Club app.

Costa pricing: Brittain said the company hadn’t moved to increase prices as UK consumers were placing “even more importance on value”. She added: “We have options but it is not the first lever we would pull.” Brittain revealed the company had looked at offering different prices in different locations and had made the move in London. Outside the capital, there are no price variations except at franchised sites such as motorway service stations. However, the company said it had introduced new products such as coconut, where customers could purchase a coconut coffee for an extra 40p.

Costa food development: Brittain said the company was working hard to improve its food range. A lunch bundle had just been introduced consisting of a sandwich, coffee and packet of crisps for £4.95. Brittain said the early signs were “promising”. She added: “We are focusing on expanding our food range and will be looking at introducing more bundles and more premium options.” The company has seen a good uplift in savoury food capture rate following the launch of a new breakfast range in May last year. That uplift was sustained with an improved salad range in June, while further improvement followed in September with the launch of a new hot lunch range. The company has a food capture rate of 40%.

Costa Express: In total, 1,187 net new coffee machines were added during the year with 805 partners in the UK. Internationally, there were 249 net new machines, with the format now trading in six countries. A machine generates circa £30,000. The company said there were plenty of expansion opportunities as it had only 600 machines so far in UK convenience stores, fewer than 500 in British work places and fewer than 1,000 internationally. Brittain said: “There is huge potential for growth in the UK and internationally.”

Premier Inn in UK: Premier Inn now has 72,466 rooms in the UK and is producing a return on capital of 13.4%. It has line-of-sight of more than 100,000 hotel rooms. Its London hotels saw sales growth of 9.1%, while sale revenue at regional sites was up 6.6% as Premier Inn continued to gain market share. The company plans to open 4,000 to 4,500 rooms in the UK and Germany in the next financial year. Premier Inn has a committed pipeline of 14,750 rooms up to 2020. Of that pipeline, 70% of new hotels will be in areas where the brand has no or little presence. In terms of bookings, 97% are made through its own channels while it has an occupancy rate of 79.3%. Premier Inn has reduced its room refurbishment cost by a third but has still enhanced guest scores with its YouGov brand index score for quality second only to Hilton, while it came top in terms of value score. A total of 87% of its rooms are now in the latest format. Premier Inn has an average TripAdvisor score of 4.2. During the past three years it has opened 13,842 rooms – more than Travelodge (3,454 rooms), Holiday Inn Express (1,392 rooms) and Ibis (562 rooms) combined.

Costa in China: Whitbread acquired a 49% stake of its joint-venture partner in China for £35m, enabling it to have full control of operations and estate. The company opened 79 Costa sites during the year while it closed 39. It is negotiating with more franchise partners as it looks to accelerate expansion. Brittain said Costa was breaking even in China in terms of revenue but pointed out it was investing in new sites, which was leading to an overall loss. She added Costa generated about £25m internationally with half of that coming from China. The company will prioritise expansion in transport locations and shopping centres and continue to churn non-core city stores. It now plans to have 1,200 stores by 2022.

Premier Inn in Germany: The company currently has one hotel open and trading but is in the process of acquiring 13 sites. With its committed pipeline, the company will have 31 hotels in 15 cities. Three Premier Inn sites will open in Germany in the new financial year – in Munich (216 rooms), Hamburg (182 rooms) and Leipzig (182 rooms). Brittain said: “Bookings are being made directly rather than online travel agencies (OTAs). We can always move to OTAs if that doesn’t work – we can’t start by using OTAs and wean ourselves off unless we have a well-known brand, which we don’t yet. We’re trying to build one. Once you have a presence of 30 hotels in 15 cities you can start having a relationship with corporate companies – you can’t expect them to use you regularly if you only have a couple of sites in a handful of cities. Carbury said the company was confident its Premier Inn estate in Germany would generate a similar return on capital to that of the UK in the long term. Its target cities include Bremen, Bonn and Hanover.

Investment: Whitbread invested £118m in its existing Premier Inn sites during the year, down from £148m the previous year, while it invested £41m in its Costa outlets, dropping from £58m the year before. The company invested £227m in new hotels as well as extending its existing sites compared with £303m the previous year. It spent £47m on new Costa sites compared with 341m the year before.

Making further savings: Whitbread plans to deliver a further £100m of efficiency savings during the next two years to offset inflationary pressures – a total of £250m. Of the £100m, £70m is planned over the next year – £50m in Premier Inn and £20m in Costa. Brittain said the company’s supply chain savings had been “bubbling away” and were starting to deliver.

Property: Whitbread has added 1,700 freehold rooms to its pipeline along with 2,900 leasehold rooms. It has 110 Costa drive-thru sites in the pipeline. Whitbread said its strong covenant, flexible funding options and proven value creation gave it a significant competitive advantage when it came to securing sites.

Technology: Whitbread has completed 15 projects, including its new business booking platform for Premier Inn and putting a new till system in place for Costa, which will allow it to expand its click-and-collect facility. Another 17 projects are under way, which includes the roll-out of click and collect for Costa and new HR systems across the group.

Looking ahead: Brittain said: “We have two high-quality businesses with scale. We are focused on continuing to grow alongside working on the demerger of Costa, which we will continue to provide updates on.”

Costa apprenticeWhitbread has announced its intention to demerge Costa Coffee. The company stated: “Over the last few years Whitbread’s board has rigorously and regularly reviewed its strategy and structure and has for some time been of the view that separating Premier Inn and Costa, at the right time, would enable long-term value to be optimised Given the considerable strategic progress that has been made, particularly in developing significant international growth prospects in each business, Whitbread is now committed to a demerger of Costa, providing shareholders with investments in two distinct, focused and market-leading businesses. Demerger of Costa will be pursued as fast as practical and appropriate to optimise value for shareholders. Appropriate time will be taken to complete critical transformation and infrastructure improvement objectives that will put both Premier Inn and Costa in a strong position to thrive as separate entities. Whitbread is to remain the owner of Premier Inn, the UK’s largest and most successful hotel business, with attractive UK and international growth opportunities. Costa is the clear UK market leader and second largest globally, with attractive long-term international opportunities. Today’s announcement of the demerger of Costa will provide clarity to shareholders, team members and other stakeholders on Whitbread’s strategic direction. The board has for some time been of the view that separating Premier Inn and Costa at the right time would enhance focus and enable value to be optimised for shareholders over the longer term. Given the significant strategic progress that has been made and the momentum in the delivery of the plan, the board is confident that both Premier Inn and Costa will soon be businesses of sufficient strength, scale and capability to enable them to thrive as independent companies. The board, therefore, believes that it is in the best long-term interests of Whitbread’s many stakeholders to separate Premier Inn and Costa, via a demerger of Costa. Announcing the demerger of Costa will provide clarity to shareholders, team members and other stakeholders on Whitbread’s strategic direction. The board has carefully considered the optimal timing of the demerger of Costa and concluded it will be pursued as fast as practical and appropriate to optimise value for Whitbread’s shareholders and is expected to be completed within 24 months. This timeframe will allow both Premier Inn and Costa to maintain momentum, complete critical and complex transformation and infrastructure objectives, and drive international expansion, putting each business in a strong position to create further value as separate entities. These objectives include: Completing the complex and critical IT and business system upgrades and improvement programmes, which are delivered by Whitbread shared resources; delivering the recently upgraded efficiency programme, which will offset a significant proportion of the current high level of industry inflation and minimising disruption to trading and product innovation activities, particularly in the UK; further develop the international strategies in both Premier Inn and Costa, to strengthen the foundations for long-term profitable growth; and appropriately managing the Whitbread pension fund deficit and funding facilities and ensuring both Whitbread and Costa have appropriate governance structures in place to thrive as separate entities. Regular updates on progress will be given as part of Whitbread’s standard financial reporting cycle. The board will also begin to consult shareholders in order to align executive incentive structures to this plan.” Adam Crozier, chairman of Whitbread, said: “The Whitbread board has conducted regular and rigorous reviews of its strategy and structure for a number of years. For some time, the board has been of the view that at the right time Premier Inn and Costa should be independent companies. A separation will provide enhanced focus for each business and give shareholders an investment in two high-quality businesses. We will ensure that prior to separation each business is sufficiently developed and well-positioned to take advantage of the structural growth opportunities available to them in the UK and internationally. Announcing our intention now provides clarity of our strategic direction to our shareholders, team members and other stakeholders. The management team have continued to deliver strong strategic and operational performance, whilst building momentum in growth, innovation, international expansion and development of technology and infrastructure. The team will now also be focused on ensuring the demerger of Costa is conducted as fast as practical and appropriate to optimise value for Whitbread’s shareholders. The board fundamentally believes this is the best course of action to optimise value for shareholders over the longer term and will ensure both Premier Inn and Costa are positioned well to thrive as independent companies.” Alison Brittain, Whitbread chief executive, said: “Over the last two years, Whitbread has made tremendous progress in innovation and growth in our core UK businesses and we have recently delivered a step-change in international development through two significant acquisitions in China and Germany. We have considerable momentum in the delivery of a complex multi-year transformation programme which will improve our core operational capability, redevelop our technology platform and deliver significant levels of efficiency. We are confident in our plans to deliver further progress in these areas, which will ensure both Premier Inn and Costa are in a strong position to continue their success as separate entities, creating further value for our shareholders and opportunities for our team members. I am excited that at the point of separation, both businesses will be able to take advantage of the structural growth opportunities available to them in the UK and internationally. Costa will become a listed entity in its own right and the clear market leader in the out-of-home coffee market in the UK. Costa will also be well positioned to build further on its strong international foundations with growth expected in China and Costa Express. Whitbread will remain the owner and operator of the UK’s most successful hotel business. A key priority will be continuing the development of Premier Inn by creating a business of scale in Germany to replicate the success we’ve had in the UK.”

Premier InnWhitbread has reported sales up 6.1% to £3,295m in its 2018 full financial year. Profit before tax was up 6.4% to £548m. Alison Brittain, Whitbread chief executive, said: “Whitbread has produced another strong financial performance this year, with revenue growth of 6.1% to £3,295 million. Disciplined cost management has enabled us to grow underlying profit before tax by 4.5% to £591 million, with statutory profit before tax up 6.4% to £548 million. We have accelerated delivery momentum in all three of our strategic priorities during the year. In the UK, we have increased revenues, profits, cash flow, dividends and return on capital, notwithstanding challenging market conditions. This growth has been underpinned by disciplined investment in new capacity for both Premier Inn and Costa and a relentless focus on improving the overall experience for our millions of customers. With ongoing growth in coffee consumption and our increasing ability to win market share from the independent hotel sector, we are confident of further growth at a good return on capital in the years ahead. Internationally, we announced two strategically significant transactions for Premier Inn in Germany and Costa in China. In our first acquisition in Germany, we have agreed to acquire 19 hotels, comprising 3,100 rooms. In addition to our organic pipeline, this will ensure we have at least 31 hotels, comprising 5,720 Premier Inn rooms by 2021. In China, we completed the buy-out of one of our two joint-venture partners. This acquisition provides Costa with full control of stores outside Beijing and allows us to increase our ambition to target 1,200 stores by 2022. These acquisitions provide solid foundations from which both businesses can grow international operations of increasing significance in the years ahead. In addition to growing our business at a good return on capital, we have also worked hard to generate meaningful savings from our efficiency programme, which have offset the material structural inflation that is impacting the hospitality sector. Our strong execution to date has delivered savings of £105 million, which gives us confidence that we can increase our target from £150 million to £250 million, with £100 million to be delivered over the next two years. These additional efficiencies will help to offset a substantial proportion of anticipated inflationary pressures in the next few years. We are committed to the attractive longer-term structural opportunities for growth in the hotel and coffee markets, both in the UK and internationally. We are therefore continuing to invest throughout our businesses to ensure we retain brand leadership in the UK, build the foundations for long-term international growth and deliver the modern and efficient processes and technology which the businesses need to thrive in the future. Given recent economic and industry data, we do remain cautious on the consumer environment, especially on the high street, which we expect to remain challenging in the near term. The combination of our commitment to the investment programme and the current UK consumer environment naturally means our near-term profit growth may be lower than in previous years. However, I am confident that this strategy will deliver long-term sustainable growth in earnings and dividends, combined with good return on capital for years to come. In addition to delivering our ambitious longer-term growth plan, we remain committed to disciplined allocation of capital, maintaining a strong balance sheet and generating excellent cash flow. As a result, the board is increasing the full-year dividend in line with earnings growth to 101 pence per share.”

Craft BeerTadcaster-based brewer and pub operator Samuel Smith is facing legal action after it failed to hand over pensions information. The Pensions Regulator (TPR) announced yesterday that it will prosecute the company and its chairman Humphrey Smith for failing to provide information in an ongoing investigation. TPR said it had sought details of the company’s finances in order to understand the funding position of some of the brewery’s pension schemes. After the brewery failed to comply, chairman Humphrey Smith and the company have both been ordered to appear at a Magistrates’ court in Brighton charged with neglecting or refusing to provide information without a reasonable excuse. Smith is charged on the basis that the offence by the company was committed with his “consent or connivance or by his neglect”. In previous cases of this nature, defendants found guilty are often ordered to pay a fine. Failure to provide information without a reasonable excuse is a criminal offence for which the fine is unlimited. Samuel Smith, which is known for its very low prices, runs all its pub on a directly managed basis is known for avoiding any kind of publicity and never responds to a Press inquiry.

JD Wetherspoon has won judicial backing for a new pub in central Dublin, which is due to open at Christmas. The judge said the development, just opposite the Abbey Theatre, would be an attractive addition to the area. Two protected buildings, which will comprise the 1,600sq m space for JD Wetherspoon’s new site in Dublin city centre, will be connected by a glazed link at ground and first floor levels, a court has heard. The company won a bidding battle with Irish Life for the 150-year-old former Trustee Savings Bank building at 12B and the former 1839 Baptist Chapel at 12C Lower Abbey Street. Irish Life owns a neighbouring development. Judge Terence O’Sullivan, in the Circuit Licensing Court, has granted Wetherspoon’s a declaratory order that will guarantee the company a full drinks license and restaurant providing the development is completed in accordance with planning permissions. Constance Cassidy SC, counsel for Wetherspoon’s, said the company owned six other Republic of Ireland pubs in Dublin, Dún Laoghaire and Cork. Cassidy said part of the conditions laid down in the permission was that there would be no music or any other sound for entertainment amplified in or outside the premises. But this had never been a problem for Wetherspoon’s as the company did not engage in late-night entertainment or in-house music, she said. The pub will also have an outdoor beer garden and roof terrace with a retractable roof.

Côte Brasserie has closed its on Lincoln High Street site with the loss of around 50 jobs. Despite a £1 million investment to renovate the building, the French-inspired eatery closed its doors on Monday (23 April) just over two years after opening. The restaurant, which opened in February 2016, was popular with customers – and had been awarded a certificate of excellence and a 4.5-star rating on TripAdvisor. Users on the site described the food as “exceptional” and the staff as “very attentive”. In January, Cote also closed its restaurant in the Altrincham area less than a year after a £1m revamp, according to Altrincham Today. The Lincoln site operated as Dogma nightclub until it was replaced by Craft Bar and Kitchen in 2013, which was then replaced by Côte in 2016.

Wagamama US chairman Scott BurgerWagamama has strengthened its US management team with the appointments of Scott Burger (pictured) as chairman and Janine DiGioacchino as managing director. The move follows a decision by the group’s current US managing director, Burton Heiss, to step down. The company stated: “Reflecting the group’s continued ambition in the US, Scott Burger joins Wagamama in a new role as US chairman. Scott will play a key role in the expansion of the brand to help further establish Wagamama in the US and Canada. Scott joins from jewellery business Pandora, where he spent more than ten years, including almost six years in his latest role as president of the Americas. Scott began his career in the food and beverage industry and brings a broad range of strategic and commercial skills to Wagamama’s growing US portfolio. Janine DiGioacchino joins Wagamama as US managing director to lead the team on its next phase of growth. Janine started her career in the restaurant industry including managing two of New York’s busiest sites – Planet Hollywood and All Star Cafe. Having joined The Tussauds Group and successfully launched the Madame Tussauds brand in New York, she was most recently divisional director of Merlin’s North America Midway Group, where she spent ten years building a business that comprised 26 attractions and established a number of Merlin’s leisure brands in the US. Janine brings an abundance of international experience and, importantly, her passion is people and service, both integral to Wagamama’s ethos and success.” Wagamama chief executive Jane Holbrook added: “We look forward to welcoming Scott and Janine into the Wagamama family to lead our growing operations in the US. We are committed to spreading positivity from bowl to soul in our existing restaurants and as we further expand our footprint in New York later this year.”

Rupert Davidson (pictured left)Rupert Davidson, co-founder of Fatto a Mano, co-founder of Brighton and Hove-based pizzeria Fatto a Mano, has told Propel the company won’t compromise its pizza quality by using a delivery service, even though such a move could boost sales by up to 20%. Davidson also said the company, which is about to open its third site in the city, would grow naturally and was not seeking investment. He added: “We could do that (delivery) overnight because we know Brighton and Hove wants our product but I don’t want a queue of drivers standing outside our restaurant. Most people would want to order a Fatto a Mano on a Friday or Saturday night, when we are serving customers in the restaurant – we’d start damaging their experience. I don’t think our products would deliver well either so I don’t want to put our product on somebody’s dining room table in a bad state – it would be a mistake. Our pizzas need to be consumed within five minutes of being made in the wood-fired oven. The only way we would consider it was if we opened a site with two ovens that was dedicated to delivery. But that’s not a month’s work, it’s a year or more at least because we would have to develop a new dough.” The company’s third restaurant is in the North Laine area of the city on the corner of Kensington Gardens and Gloucester Road at a site formerly occupied by second-hand clothing store Loot. Davidson said: “I’m not, as everyone seems to be now, in this business because I want to grow Fatto a Mano to 20 sites, sell it and make millions and end up on my yacht. I’m in it because I get up every morning and look after my family and that’s the heart of it. It’s my life and my job and, along that journey, I’m doing something I love for myself too.” Meanwhile, Davidson and co-founder Davinder Sahota have both invested in Uckfield-based Holler Brewery, formerly Holler Boys, which is set to open a brewery and taproom in London Road, Brighton. The brewery, which was founded by Steve Keegan, formerly of Late Nights Brewery, has a “similar philosophy” to Fatto a Mano, although it is a separate business. Sahota said: “Steve’s a mate and a good guy. He started with Late Nights and wanted beer on a different scale, better and with more purity. We’re happy to back developing people and brands – and we want to serve customers directly. We plan to present the brand in the right way and have a great product. It’s going to be a really exciting new venture.”

Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive Kate NichollsUKHospitality has reiterated its call for the government to adopt the key House of Lords Licensing Act Committee recommendation regarding the scrapping of late-night levies and early morning alcohol restriction orders (EMROs). The move follows the Home Office’s publication of updated Section 182 guidance, which has included industry feedback. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls (pictured) said: “The revised guidance published by the Home Office shows the government has listened to industry feedback and the considerations of the hospitality sector. The new guidance should help provide clarity for businesses and local authorities. This has been a welcome opportunity to communicate with the Home Office, although we will continue to make the case for a more supportive legislative framework for venues and the adoption of recommendations made by the House of Lords. Chief among them will be scrapping late-night levies and EMROs, which are unfit for purpose, at the earliest opportunity.”

Pan-European hostel and bar company Beds and Bars has promoted key team members to its board. Sophie Herbert has been confirmed as group marketing director and has joined the board of Beds and Bars. Herbert, who has been running the company’s marketing capability for the past three years, featured in the recent 2018 Restaurant Marketer & Innovator 30 under 30 list, which recognises 30 talented future leaders in marketing, innovation and strategy roles within the hospitality sector who are under the age of 30. Chief financial officer Mobin Rana will also sit on the board and assume the responsibility of company secretary. A new role of contracts and purchasing manager will also be created, with that member of staff reporting to Rana. Luke Knowles, who is currently operations director, will have a change of role on the board and become development and strategy director of the business, responsible for site acquisition and funding. Development projects and franchise manager Lucie Perin and group finance director Philip Newlyn will report to Knowles and together spearhead the growth of the business. Knowles will also pick up the group sales function and have Michele Kaye and her team report to him. A role of EU operations manager has been created, with that member of staff reporting to managing director Murray Roberts. Franz Burghoff will continue to manage revenue and yield but will also oversee the growing technology team and assist head of technology Jake Carroll and the team to “develop the very best in next-generation booking technology”. Roberts said: “Beds and Bars is always looking for development and growth opportunities for its brands and people and I would like to congratulate those in the company on their recent promotions.”

Byron has launched a new menu as it diversifies its offerBetter burger brand Byron has launched a new menu in a bid to cater for the UK’s “increasingly diverse dining scene”. The menu, described as Byron’s “most significant menu launch yet”, features 14 new offerings including the UK’s first “flexitarian burger” (70% British beef, 30% sautéed mushrooms). Other additions include the brand’s first vegan burger, the Beetnik, which comprises a beetroot falafel patty topped with baby kale, smashed avocado, tomato, pickled red onions, red pepper ketchup and a lime-dressed rainbow slaw. New meat-based dishes include a range of US-inspired braised brisket-topped burgers and the Reuben, which comes with a jug of molten cheese sauce on the side. Byron head of food Paul Mason said: “This is our most significant menu launch yet. Byron has always been a pioneer of proper burgers and this menu aims to reflect the growing breadth of modern British burger tastes.” Last week, Byron announced Steve de Polo will join Byron as commercial and brand director from Ei Group at the end of June. Byron chief executive Simon Cope said: “2018 is proving an important, pivotal year for Byron.”

Esquires Coffee in MaidstoneEsquires Coffee has signed a regional development agreement for the south east of England. The agreement between Esquires Franchising (UK) and The Cracking Egg Company will see the developer open 67 Esquires outlets over the next ten years, taking Esquires to in excess of 100 UK outlets. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Esquires also said it was in advanced stages of discussions with regional development partners for the north west of England region, and initial-stage discussions with parties interested in north east England, Wales and Scotland. Esquires UK managing director Doug Williamson said: “Everyone’s worked really hard over the past four years to rejuvenate the brand, strengthen the operating model, and shape Esquires into a vibrant, quirky, community-centric brand. We are working with four outstanding groups at the moment, so it’s exciting to have this opportunity to scale up our expansion and see everyone’s hard work, from franchisee to field, paying off.” Williamson and Gary Buckland founded Esquires Coffee in Vancouver in 1993, expanding to the UK in 2000. The company, which operates franchised and non-franchised stores, currently has 35 sites in the UK.

Peter Joseph, the chef behind the world’s first Michelin-starred Indian restaurant, is to launch a venue in Chelsea. Joseph, who was until recently head chef of Mayfair’s Tamarind, which won its star in 2001, will launch Kahani opposite Cadogan Hall this summer. The restaurant will take inspiration from the chef’s upbringing in Tamil Nadu in southern India, with diners encouraged to forgo the formalities of fine dining by using their fingers for the first course. Seasonal British ingredients will be cooked on a central Robata grill and in an Indian tandoor oven. The menu will focus on grills and salad, with just three or four ingredients used per dish, and only two curries. Dishes will include masala-grilled avocado and tandoori calamari along with build-your-own skewers with rabbit, venison, langoustine and blue crab. Non-traditional desserts will include a chilli chocolate mousse “bomb” and melt-in-the-middle rose and pistachio cheesecake. The restaurant, due to open in July, will make use of brightly coloured Indian-style fabrics for decoration, while a bar will offer spice-infused cocktails. Joseph told the Evening Standard: “Kahani means ‘story’ in Urdu and I want to keep innovating and pushing boundaries with my food to ensure people keep following my story and coming back for more.”

Sushi sandwich concept is to launch in London’s St Pancras International station next week. The company, which will also launch a lunchtime delivery service, will initially operate as a pop-up at Sourced Market from Monday (30 April) until Friday, 11 May offering rice sandwiches that are gluten, lactose, nut and wheat-free. The sandwich fillings are wrapped in sushi rice with gluten-free rice vinegar and nori seaweed. There will be four initial sandwiches – vegan curry, miso roasted salmon, egg chorizo and chermoulah chicken. The concept is the brainchild of Arthur Liegeois and inspired by Japanese “sandwich” onigirazu. He said: “We’ve been working tirelessly to source ingredients, experiment with flavours and develop the menu. Our new kitchen space will enable us to expand our reach across London.” Liegeois aims to open a permanent site in the fourth quarter of this year after building the delivery service and launching a series of further pop-ups. Norigami will require at least 72 hours’ notice for lunchtime orders, with a minimum of 12 pieces. Office delivery will initially focus on east, south east and central London. Sourced Market operates spaces at St Pancras, Marylebone and Victoria, with two new units planned for this year.

A group of Chinese investors has bought Soho House in Fulton Market, Chicago, for $95m. Gaw Capital brought Beijing-based Sino-Ocean Land and Hong Kong-based Huarong International Finance into a deal for the hotel and private members’ club in North Green Street, according to data from Real Capital Analytics. The investors financed the deal with a $22.7m loan from Natixis and a $40m commercial mortgage-backed securities loan, reports The Real Deal. Hong Kong-based Gaw was part of the joint venture with Shapack Partners and AJ Capital that bought the building in 2012 for $6.5m from Chicago-Allis Manufacturing. They signed Soho House as a tenant and the private club opened at the property in 2014. The owners refinanced the property in 2013 and 2015. Soho House, which has a lease through 2034, was the first major project in Fulton Market neighbourhood, a former meat-packing district that is now home to bars, restaurants and Google’s Midwest headquarters. McDonald’s is set to move its headquarters to the district from Oak Brook. Soho House, which has been mulling a $2bn initial public offering, has 18 “houses” across the globe.

Jamie Rule and Louis Hymans, of Background Bars, the events management company behind gastro pop-up series Night Tales, is taking over a Tottenham pub in partnership with Tom Gibson, who operates Ruby’s Bar & Lounge in Dalston. The partnership has taken over The Pride of Tottenham pub, near the north London football club’s stadium, and will reopen it as The Bluecoats on Monday, 23 May with the kitchen run by independent burger restaurant Lucky Chip. The pub has been renamed after the 18th century building’s previous existence as The Blue Coats School For Girls. The pub will offer more than 20 lines of beer and cider – a mixture of craft, keg and cask – including brews from local companies such as Beavertown, Redemption and Pressure Drop. Rule said: “Opening a pub has always been a dream of mine and, being a local boy, when the opportunity came to take over this amazing building I couldn’t turn it down. I’ve walked past it and admired it since I was a child so I’m really excited to give it a new lease of life.” Gibson also owns the Cat & Mutton in Broadway Market.

Paul Robinson-Webste, director of Vivi by Rhubarb at Centre PointFood experience brand and events caterer Rhubarb has appointed Paul Robinson-Webster as director of Vivi by Rhubarb at Centre Point, ahead of its launch in July. Robinson-Webster will oversee the development and launch of Vivi in New Oxford Street, which will be operated by Rhubarb. Leading the pre-opening management team, Robinson-Webster will be responsible for procurement, recruitment, induction and training at Vivi. Robinson-Webster has almost 20 years of experience in the sector. In his previous role as director of food and beverage at Corbin & King, Robinson-Webster oversaw the management of The Colony Grill and The American Bar, managing a team of 65 managers, front-of-house restaurant, bar and room-service staff. Rhubarb managing director PB Jacobse said: “We are delighted to welcome Paul to the Rhubarb family and have every confidence his expertise will allow him to bring Vivi to Centre Point with the precision and style synonymous with our brand.” Robinson-Webster added: “I am honoured to take on this new role with Rhubarb, a company I have watched and admired throughout my years in the industry. I look forward to managing the opening of its latest venture and to delivering an extraordinary dining experience at this iconic venue.”

Roslyn’s new managing director Geoff TempertonMartin Roslyn will step down as managing director of pub accounting specialists Roslyn’s at the end of May to take up a new position as chairman of the board and finance director. Geoff Temperton (pictured), who has been operations director for the past seven years, will take over the managing director role after helping to “triple the size of the business through adding further service criteria plus value-adding focus to clients”. Roslyn said: “I have enjoyed a wonderful 26 years at Roslyn’s as MD but now is the right time to take a step backwards and help Roslyn’s move forward from a more finance-based role. This position will be a new challenge but one that will be less time-consuming and allow me to spend more time with my family, friends and farm. I have been proud to lead a company from zero to a multimillion-pound turnover and having more than 85 staff and close to 1,000 clients. The business will continue to be family-owned and move forward with the same values and beliefs.” Temperton added: “This is an exciting time in the hospitality industry and Roslyn’s will see continued growth through the award of the Star Pubs & Bars stocktaking contract and organic growth.”

Boston Tea Party owner Sam RobertsSam Roberts (pictured), owner of all-day casual dining cafe Boston Tea Party, has admitted to Propel its move to ban all single-use coffee cups is a “huge risk” but is a lead he hopes other operators will follow. Boston Tea Party, which operates 21 cafes, stands to lose more than £1m in takeaway coffee sales from Friday, 1 June when it will become the UK’s first coffee chain to bring in such a ban. Takeaway hot drinks are 5.2% of Boston Tea Party’s total turnover of £19.8m. The company is asking customers to make the move to reusable cups. They can bring their own reusable cups, take advantage of a cup loan scheme or buy a cup in-store. Roberts said: “We’ve already done a lot by getting rid of plastic straws and we were one of the first companies to introduce a discount on reusable coffee cups – but it’s not enough. We want to demonstrate to other operators that to make a difference, a big change is required. We will make this work and we’ll share details of how we’ve done it with anyone who wants our help to do the same. Lots of coffee chains are making pledges about how they plan to tackle cup waste in the future – but that is too far away and we need to stop right now. Yes, it’s a bold move and a huge risk as we stand to lose more than £1m. Only time will tell if it’s the right move but we have to be bold. We hope others will join the party.” Boston Tea Party said its 25p discount for customers bringing their own cups had seen only a 2.8% take up – not enough to make an environmental difference. Only one in 400 (0.25%) of the estimated 2.5 billion plastic-coated coffee cups used in the UK each year are recycled. About 4%, approximately 500,000, end up as litter every day with the rest (95.75%) going into landfill. Many compostable alternatives also end up in landfill as there aren’t enough accessible facilities in the UK to compost them. Meanwhile, Roberts told Propel the company would continue to look at expanding at a rate of three or four sites a year. Its latest opening will come next month in Chichester, West Sussex, where the company has converted a former mill in Baffins Lane. Roberts added: “There are a number of deals we are trying to get over the line and expansion is very much on the cards. We will continue to run a sustainable, ethical coffee chain and we’re not going to roll out at a rate of ten to 15 sites a year.”

A host of sector operators and investors have signed up for the Propel Finance and Investment Conference, which takes place on Thursday, 24 May at One Moorgate Place, London. They include Chopstix, Albion & East, Urban Village Pubs, The Wright Brothers, Ottolenghi, Crussh, Pubs of Distinction, Oakman Inns and Restaurants, Green & Fortune, Chameleon Bar & Dining, Mowgli, Shepherd Neame, Benito’s Hat, Noble Inns, Lisini, Coaching Inn Group, Dip & Flip, Dalziel & Vine, Barclays Bank and Aprirose Real Estate Investment. The speaking schedule features Ramzi Qattan, director at Christie & Co, will provide an overview of the pub, restaurant, foodservice and hotel sector mergers and acquisitions landscape, current valuations in the market and the do’s and don’ts when attempting to attract investment or sell a hospitality business. He will also provide insights on the range of businesses that are seeking to invest in the sector. Andrew Ball, partner at leisure sector specialist haysmacintyre, will give his top ten tips to maximise tax efficiency. Peter Hansen, partner at Sapient Corporate Finance, will provide an overview of mergers and acquisitions trends, give his view on where we are in the economic cycle and predict what lies ahead. Matt Smallwood, partner of the sector’s foremost financial public relations firm Instinctif, will provide his do’s and don’ts of financial PR. Richard Hamlin, partner at First Merchant, will offer expert insights on the London leasehold market and how to raise finance. Julia Groves, of Downing, will set out how Downing LLP has provided almost £24m of funding for Oakman Inns and Restaurants over the past three years using a variety of innovative funding solutions ranging from EIS funds to bonds from its award-winning Downing Crowd platform. Darrel Connell, of sector investor Imbiba, will talk about the company’s £50m Growth Fund, which will invest in as many as four new growth companies in the leisure and hospitality sector each year. Martin Sherwood, of Enterprise Investment Partners, will set out how pub, restaurant and foodservice companies can navigate the current rules on Enterprise Investment Schemes. Sector investor Luke Johnson will give his state-of-the-sector overview in conversation with Propel managing director Paul Charity. Clive Watson, founder and chief executive of City Pub Group, will provide insights on the process of undergoing an initial public offering and the benefits of going public. Meanwhile, there will be a panel discussion with Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack; Steve Crosswell, commercial banking director, hospitality and leisure, Metrobank; Mowgli founder Nisha Katona; Burning Night Group chief executive Allan Harper; Jonathan Simon, of Business Growth Fund; and Gary Robins, head of business development, Growthdeck. 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.

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