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Story of the Day:

The Restaurant Group executive directors receive no pay increase in 2017, notice period changes to six months

Andrew McCueThe Restaurant Group executive directors have not received a pay rise this year, the company’s annual report has revealed. Chief executive Andy McCue (pictured) was appointed in September on a salary of £505,000 – £5,000 a year more than his predecessor Danny Breithaupt, who received a year’s salary following his departure in August. The report also said the notice period for directors had been changed to six months instead of a year. McCue received total remuneration last year of £242,000 consisting of £146,000 salary and fees, £29,000 in taxable benefits, £29,000 in pension and £38,000 annual bonus. Meanwhile, Stephen Critoph, who left his position as chief financial officer in April last year, will also be paid £484,478 – his salary and benefits in lieu of notice for his 12-month notice period. His replacement Barry Nightingale, who was appointed in June last year and left on Friday (21 April), received total remuneration in 2016 of £251,000, made up of £179,000 salary and fees, £5,000 in taxable benefits, £27,000 in pension and £40,000 annual bonus. The annual bonus was 30% of the maximum for McCue and 24% for Nightingale, which were pro-rated down to reflect full months of service with the company. For the first time the bonus arrangement included a stretching like-for-like covers target. Remuneration committee chairman Mike Tye said: “For the year under review, the most notable remuneration-related decisions concerned the changes to the executive team. In agreeing the exit and joining terms the remuneration committee was conscious of the approved policy and further decided that where appropriate the terms would be revised in line with market best practice, which is a more demanding position than the current published policy. As a result, the new executive directors will be required to defer 50% of any bonus earned as opposed to any bonus in excess of 100% of salary. The committee reconsidered the appropriate length of notice periods and in the current context concluded that six months provides both the company and the individual with sufficient notice for a newly appointed director. However, over time the committee may increase notice periods to one year in line with the current approved policy. The committee also decided to reduce the quantum of shares vesting at threshold in the long-term incentive plan (LTIP) issued to the new executive directors from 25% to 10%, thus ensuring the executive directors were fully aligned in sharing restoration of value to shareholders as the turnaround of the business progresses. For both departing executive directors (Breithaupt and Critoph), they will receive their 12-month contractual payment in lieu of notice by way of monthly installments, subject to mitigation. No payment will be made in lieu of annual bonus during the notice period. There is no entitlement to a bonus in respect of the financial year ending 2016. All LTIP awards held lapsed on cessation of employment. 2016 was a challenging year for the group and the committee spent a significant amount of time considering the annual bonus arrangements of the new executive directors. Balancing the performance of the company in the first half of the year with the need to incentivise and reward the new executive directors, the committee determined that it would limit maximum bonus entitlement for this year to 50% of the maximum bonus, and that any payment would be pro-rated to reflect full months of service. The committee set challenging underlying profit before tax targets with, for the first time, a stretching like-for-like covers target. As a result annual bonuses of 30% of maximum for the chief executive and 24% for the chief financial officer were awarded, which will be pro-rata to reflect full months of service with the company. For 2017, the maximum annual bonus for the chief executive and chief financial officer will be 150% and 120% of salary respectively. 50% of any bonus will be deferred for three years. The committee intends to grant LTIP awards of 175% and 130% of salary respectively, based on stretching total shareholder return and earnings per share targets. No salary increases were awarded to the executive directors for 2017. This is consistent with the rest of the workforce with the exception of those on the National Living Wage who will in April 2017 receive the increase prescribed by the government depending on their age. For those employees over 25 this equates to a 4% increase to £7.50 per hour. In light of last year’s voting outcome and the major board changes in the year, the committee consulted major shareholders and those we have spoken with have responded positively to the changes to the implementation of the policy. Given the context of these changes, we hope you will be supportive of the resolution to approve the annual statement and the annual report on remuneration at this year’s annual meeting.”

Burning Night Group raises nearly £5m in peer-to-peer loan campaign and extends for further month

Shooters Sports Bar, Burning Night GroupBurning Night Group has raised nearly £5m on peer-to-peer lending platform Crowdstacker to fund its next stage of growth. The company, which was initially looking to raise £3.5m, had secured £4,980,842 and has now extended the campaign by a month until Wednesday, 24 May. The company is offering a mini-bond paying 7% per annum interest and was looking to raise £7m to continue the roll-out of its Bierkeller, Shooters and Around the World three-venues-in-one concept. The campaign raised £1m within days of launch, with £2m reached by December, £3m in February and £4m last month. Burning Night Group, which employs more than 500 people and with generated turnover in excess of £17m in 2016, already operates the concept in some of the country’s busiest city centres including Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Cardiff. The pitch states: “Burning Night plans to use the funds to continue its already successful roll-out programme of multi-branded concept bars in further key cities around the UK and with the plan to create up to 140 new jobs. Your capital is secured over the assets and business of Burning Night Group with a first ranking debenture. These assets include freehold and leasehold UK properties.” The Crowdstacker peer-to-peer loan was identified as a way to involve customers in the business’ future growth. The fund offers a choice of perks packages for those putting in £2,500 or more. Loans are over a period of three years and money can be invested via the tax-efficient Innovative Finance ISA – introduced by the government in April 2016 – or Personal Savings Allowance, allowing up to £1,000 in interest to be earned tax-free.

Other News:

A planning appeals board In Ireland has given the green light to JD Wetherspoon for a new outlet in the Camden Street area of Dublin. The appeals board has granted planning permission for the €4m development at Camden Hall that also includes a 98-bedroom hotel. The decision comes in spite of local concerns the pub would be part of a continuing trend “to completely alcoholise Camden Street”. The board ruling represented a comprehensive planning victory for Wetherspoon as the ruling omits a planning condition imposed by Dublin City Council seeking to curtail the size of the pub. The city council ruled a 244 square metre “dining area” and courtyard with tables and chairs should be omitted from the plan. However, this has been overturned on appeal. Wetherspoon already operates five pubs in the Republic of Ireland – four in Dublin and one in Cork. A spokesman for Wetherspoon described the ruling as “great news” stating the project will lead to the creation of 200 jobs. He said the firm hopes to commence work on the project “sooner rather than later”. Wetherspoon lodged a map showing there were already 12 bars on Camden Street/Wexford Street. Local appellant, Barry Chambers told An Bord Pleanála allowing “large-scale drinking” at another pub in the area “would be seriously detrimental to the residential amenity and character of the area”. In a rebuttal to Chambers’ appeal, Wetherspoon said to imply the proposal includes a super-pub “was disingenuous, misleading and clearly not the case”.

Yorkshire fish and chip operator Better Fish, which operates the original Harry Ramsden’s site in Guiseley and four others under the Wetherby Whaler brand, has reported a turnover and profit boost. The company is also adding a coffee shop to its site in Guiseley, which it said has seen a 5% decline in business in the current financial year because of building works at an adjacent supermarket. It said it had no plans to expand the business model once the development was complete. Better Fish saw turnover increase to £8,837,083 for the year ending 31 October 2016 compared with £8,521,218 the previous year. Pre-tax profit more than doubled to £1,472,594 compared with £642,754 the year before. Gross profit margin increased to 70% compared with 67% the previous year. The company has cash reserves of £1,360,000 (2015: 1,195,000) against secured debt of £138,000 (2015: £173,000). The company stated: “Better Fish has five branches situated across north and west Yorkshire and the company has a policy of keeping the buildings up to date and inviting in order to encourage both repeat and new business. The Guiseley branch has seen a 5% decline in business in this current financial year due to building works at a supermarket on the adjacent block. Also at the Guiseley branch the company is currently investing in a new coffee shop, which is due to open in the first six months of 2017. Upon completion of the above mentioned coffee shop, the company has no further plans to expand their current business model.”

The Boozy Cow, the burger restaurant owned by Speratus Group, has opened its fourth site, in Dundee, and increased the number of charities it is supporting. Speratus Group founder Garreth Wood revealed a further five good causes would receive a boost from The Boozy Cow restaurants, which donates its entire profits for the year to charity. Wood said Hot Chocolate Trust, Mid-Lin Day Care, Dundee Woman’s Aid, Art Angel and Help for Kids would now benefit, bringing the total number of good causes supported to 18. The company has opened the Dundee Boozy Cow on the former site of Laing’s Bar and Kitchen. It has overhauled the building and revamped the beer garden. Last month, Boozy Cow boosted charities with a windfall of more than £210,000 and it has now given away almost £500,000 since opening its first venue in Aberdeen in 2014. Wood said: “The charities we’ve partnered with do outstanding work in Dundee, from supporting disadvantaged children and young people to providing care to elderly people and helping women who have suffered from domestic abuse. I’m proud we at Boozy Cow are donating our profits to help these fantastic causes. There’s no one else doing what we’re doing. Boozy Cow is edgy, it’s exciting and distinctive yet still manages to be family-friendly, and its profits are going to important community causes. There’s nothing like this in Dundee.”

Four more restaurant brands have signed to open sites at the £440m Westgate Oxford development. Comptoir Group-owned Shawa Lebanese Grill, Indian street food brand Rola Wala, Nando’s and Benito’s Hat have agreed deals with owner The Westgate Oxford Alliance, a joint venture between Land Securities and The Crown Estate. The brands were unveiled with six months to go until the official opening of the development in the city centre. Westgate Oxford will have the city’s first public roof garden with The Breakfast Club, Japanese restaurant brand Sticks ‘n’ Sushi and Vietnamese street food restaurant group Pho among the foodservice brands to have already secured sites. The 800,000 square foot complex will be anchored by a 140,000 square foot John Lewis store. Land Securities leasing director Naomi Howard said: “In exactly six months, we will open our doors to the public, bringing them a vibrant blend of luxury and high street retail stores to be explored, alongside some of the most exciting food and drink brands the region will have to offer. We are thrilled to announce today’s new signings – who will be joined by more new names in the coming weeks.”

London gastro-pub operator Noble Inns has brought back its eclectic diner concept Bad Egg by popular demand. The venue has returned to City Point in Ropemaker Street, Moorgate, and is open seven days a week. The concept is back six months after the site was rebranded as Little Smoke. New on the menu are the N’duja Croque Monsieur, Bad Egg Burrito, and a Snicker Bocker Glory while favourites that have made a return include the Cheeseburger Hash, consisting of a smashed cheeseburger, crispy fries and a fried egg; and its weekend brunch menu. Noble Inns co-founder Scott Hunter said: “Bad Egg is where we can pour all our guilty pleasures into the menu, including our favorites – deep fried chicken, peanut butter and jelly bap, and the pulled pork and kimchi hash. It’s developed a loyal, almost cult-like following over the years so we’re excited to bring it back.” Noble Inns also operates Smokehouse, Pig & Butcher and The Princess of Shoreditch.

Alison Brittain, chief executive of WhitbreadWhitbread is expected to report a rise in pre-tax profits at its full-year results on Tuesday (25 April) helped by the continuing growth in Costa Coffee and strong trading at budget hotel brand Premier Inn. Analysts expect the company to report profits of £560m to £570m on a turnover of about £3.1bn, up from £546m and £2.9bn the previous year, although the comparison is helped by a 53-week year. The company, headed by former Lloyds banker Alison Brittain (pictured), is expected to benefit strongly from the increase in inbound tourists and the increase in staycations due to the fall in sterling, as well as from the continued roll-out of Costa Express at a rate of 1,500 coffee machines a year. Investors will be looking closely at whether the firm has improved on its third-quarter figures, which showed a slight fall in like-for-like sales in its food outlets.

Pubs Code adjudicator Paul Newby has now made 25 arbitration awards while there are nearly 100 at different stages within the process. The total number of awards includes the five first cases announced last month. Newby said: “We are making good progress in moving cases through the arbitration process and this rising figure of awards shows our systems and resources are robust and working. We currently have 97 cases at different stages within the arbitration process. The timetable for resolving cases is largely in the hands of the parties to the dispute but my team and I are making all efforts to ensure the process moves forward as quickly as possible. This includes issuing prompts and reminders for information or actions whenever there are delays. I continue to encourage tenants and pub-owning businesses to sit down together and negotiate purposefully. As a result, in a number of cases this is achieving the desired result of a narrowing of the issues, a stronger negotiating position for tenants and swifter settlements. Arbitration awards remain private unless all parties to the dispute agree to release details. However, I am committed to identifying general principles where I can do so without breaching confidentiality and will share these with tenants and pub-owning businesses to help guide their future relationships.”

Chef Luke Thomas has ended his two-year association with Luke’s Eating House and Gin Rickey’s in St John Street, Chester. Parent company Odysian’s 21-year lease has expired and the venue will be rebranded and taken over by The Alchemist chain this summer. Thomas won BBC’s Future Chef competition when he was 15. His career has seen him working with Gary Rhodes, Heston Blumenthal and became known as the youngest head chef in the UK aged 19. Now he works as a culinary advisor to brands around the world and develops menus for the Generator Hostel chain. “With the sale of the lease, this now allows my time to be focused on my international ventures such as Retro Feasts Dubai and launching my own concept bar and restaurant in London this year,” he said. “It was great spending time close to home and working with Odysian on this project, I enjoyed working with a really incredible team that launched the venture along with the many local suppliers in all aspects who supported the business.” He plans to open a venue in London later this year.

23.5 Degrees, Starbucks’ first franchisee globally, has expanded by opening a drive-thru store near Huntingdon. A total of 25 jobs have been created at the store at the newly extended Brampton Hut services on the A1/A14 Interchange, which will be the first drive- thru in the area. On its website, 23.5 Degrees states: “Having opened our first store in February 2013, 23.5 Degrees currently operates 39 stores with a current pipeline of 23 further stores approved and under development. We have a developmental territory covering Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Surrey, Hampshire, Wiltshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Hertfordshire, Essex and Dorset as well as 23 boroughs within the Greater London area. Managing director Mark Hepburn has a track record of significant success in foodservice franchise businesses, including Burger King and KFC and our business growth is supported by private equity firm Connection Capital as well as Royal Bank of Scotland.”

Barry NightingaleThe Restaurant Group has announced that Barry Nightingale (pictured), chief financial officer, will step down from the board and leave the company with immediate effect. He had been with the company for less than year. The board has commenced a search for a new Chief Financial Officer and will update the market in due course. Debbie Hewitt, chairman, said: “On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Barry for the valuable contribution that he has made over the past year, as we began the company’s turnaround process, which continues to progress well. We wish him all the best for the future.” The company will next provide a trading update on 26 May 2017, the date of the company’s 2017 AGM. Cenkos leisure analyst Simon French stated: “No reason for his departure is given but we note his appointment pre-dated that of chief executive Andy McCue who has been building his own top team. Therefore we do not view his departure as concerning but we expect the share price will react adversely given he has only been in post since June 2016 and there has been significant instability at the top of the group since Andrew Page’s departure in August 2014. There is no update on current trading which we interpret to mean remains in line with market expectations although the group will update alongside its AGM on 26 May. The chairman does however state that the turnaround process continues to progress well. The stock trades on a 2017E adjusted EV/Ebitdar of 7.8 times and a price-to-earnings ratio of 15.6 times and yields 4.8%. We would take advantage of any weakens as an attractive buying opportunity as we see signs of some of the industry pressures abating.”

Subway has said its 12 NHS franchised stores at hospital sites have met the relevant criteria relating to food and drink sold on NHS premises for the 2016/2017 Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUIN) targets. The brand has exceeded the forthcoming CQUIN target announcement, by only serving no sugar and reduced sugar drinks in these stores. This roll-out exceeds the deadline for voluntary implementation detailed in the 2017/2018 CQUIN targets, as set-out by NHS England. This was made possible by Subway changing to a new beverage partner alongside putting in place a comprehensive programme that provided its corporate and individual franchisees with the necessary tools and information to comply. After partnering with Britvic and PepsiCo, Subway stores removed high sugar drinks, in favour of no sugar and reduced sugar dispensed or bottled options only. This is part of a trial that will help determine the shift in customer behaviour and sales impact as a result of the no sugar and reduced sugar roll-out. Subway country director for the UK and Ireland Peter Dowding said: “This action builds upon the strong healthier-for-you food-on-the-go credentials the brand already has in place. It further demonstrates our commitment to providing a better food environment in hospitals to patients, staff and visitors.”

Healthy eating chain Abokado has once again supported The London Marathon 2017 by offering free lunches to finishers. Runners are asked to produce their finishers’ medals in any one of Abokado’s 29 stores across London today (Monday, 24 April) to receive a free lunch. Director Mark Lilley said: “We look forward to congratulating many London Marathon runners on Monday with a ‘feel great’ lunch. Having run the London Marathon myself I know it is no small feat and this is our small way of supporting this wonderful event and recognising the amazing efforts of the charity runners.”

The average worker spends just over 22 minutes a week nipping out to coffee shops. The survey – by ethical coffee suppliers Honest Coffees – showed 11% of people leave work once a week to pick up a coffee, with 10% stepping out two or three times, and the thirstiest 10.6% leaving four or more times. Some 37% of men make regular trips out to cafes to pick up a takeaway coffee compared with 24% of women. These coffee trips are costing an average of £150 a year.

Ye Horns InnThe asking price for the freehold of a Lancashire pub that is home to Goosnargh Brewing Company has been reduced from £695,000 to £595,000. The Ye Horns Inn, an 18th century pub in Goosnargh, near Preston, is being marketed by agent Fleurets. It has been under the same family ownership since 1952 and is currently operated by Mark and Denise Woods. The coaching inn has been extended to include an outdoor seating area and barn conversion housing six en-suite rooms. The pub consists of a parlour bar and three dining rooms, plus a function room and meeting room on the first floor. Planning permission has been obtained to extend the restaurant. An additional ten-acre parcel of land is also available. The freehold price includes a five-barrel micro-brewery plant and the Goosnargh Brewing Company, which currently brews three times fortnightly.

International Italian food emporium Eataly has promised to donate $1m to preserve Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Last Supper. It will fund a high-tech air filtration system that will extend the painting’s life by an estimated 500 years – it has been in a state of gradual deterioration essentially since its completion in 1498, and the precise environment required to preserve it means Milan’s Santa Maria delle Grazie must limit its visitors to 1,300 per day and viewing time to 15 minutes. “Preserving quality, culture and tradition has always been our main goal,” said Eataly USA boss Nicola Farinetti. “We are happy to be able to help conserve this masterpiece of world art for an additional 500 years. Not only will it give the possibility to the entire world to enjoy it for a longer amount of time, but will continue to establish the everyday connection between food and culture.”

OakNorth, the bank for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs, has completed a debt finance deal of £500,000 to Adventure Bar, the London cocktail bar chain. Its fourth and most recent site, The Escapologist, is located in the Seven Dials area of Covent Garden and opened in April 2016 following a £1.1m loan from OakNorth several months earlier. It’s styled as part “modern day Victorian men’s club” and part Masonic lodge and offers classic cocktails and a menu of high-quality pizzas. The second loan from OakNorth will be used to acquire two new sites – the first of which will be located in Waterloo Road and is expected to open in the summer – while the business is currently in the process of identifying the second venue. The directors at Adventure Bar said they saw the Waterloo Road site as an ideal acquisition opportunity due to the significant footfall in the Waterloo area driven by both tourists and locals – Waterloo station is the most connected in the south of England with an estimated 99.2 million visitors per annum. Waterloo Road is also located within a few minutes’ walk from Kings College London’s Waterloo campus where it is likely to attract students who are keen to benefit from its happy hours and numerous parties throughout the year. Tom Kidd, co-founder and director of Adventure Bar, said: “With its proximity to the Southbank, Waterloo has become a popular spot for both locals and tourists – as a result, it experiences oversubscription throughout the week with more people than available places. While there are a number of pubs and restaurants in the area there is no cocktail-led proposition – we’re hoping to fill this void. We were delighted to have the opportunity to once again work with OakNorth – the bank supported us with the acquisition and development of our fourth site, so it’s great to be working with them again for our fifth.”

Derby Brewing Co Brew TeamDerby-based brewer and retailer Derby Brewing Co has nearly doubled its equity offer as it looks to raise £500,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to support its expansion plans. The family-run company, founded by Trevor Harris in 2004, is now offering a 6.5% stake in the business instead of the original 3.86% in return for the investment. So far, 137 investors have pledged £120,810 with 27 days remaining. The funding would support the expansion of the brewery, the launch of a new craft range and the addition of a new venue to its four-strong estate. The company operates The Tap, a specialist beer and spirit house with more than 75 beers and ciders and more than 70 spirits, in Derby; The Queen’s Head gastro-pub in Little Eaton; smoked food and craft house concept The Greyhound in Derby; and The Kedleston Country House, a bar, restaurant, boutique hotel and wedding venue in Quarndon. Managing director Paul Harris said: “We have all agreed to increase the equity on offer from the outlined 3.86% to 6.5% of the business. As a result the business would subsequently be valued at £7,192,307.60 from the previous £12,459,364 valuation. We believe this offers potential investors even greater value for their investment and further strengthens the opportunity, as based on forecasts we will look to double the value of shareholders shares within three years, with all shareholders being eligible for dividends and rewards depending on their level of investment along the way.” The company expects to generate turnover of £3.6m in its current financial year with Ebitda of £257,000.

Hotel Chocolat Group, the premium British chocolatier and omni-channel retailer, has announced the appointment of Greg Hodder as non-executive director with effect from 1 May 2017. The company stated: “Greg brings with him a wealth of experience from the retail sector, having previously been chief executive of Charles Tyrwhitt. Prior to joining Charles Tyrwhitt, he was chief executive of Direct Wines. Greg is currently a Non-executive Director of Majestic Wine.” Greg Hodder said: “I have always been a great fan of Hotel Chocolat and I can see that the business has some fantastic opportunities for continued profitable growth. I am delighted to be joining the board.” Angus Thirlwell, co-founder and chief executive, added: “Having someone with Greg’s experience and track record is a great fit for us at this stage of our growth.”

Chapel Down has reported year on year sales up 25% to £10.233m (2015: £8.179m) in the year to 31 December 2016. Chapel Down wine sales were up 22% to £6.791m (2015: £5.564m). Beer and Cider sales in the associate company Curious Drinks were up 32% to £3.442m (2015: £2.614m). Wine gross profit was up 30% at £2.888m (2015: £2.229m). Beer and Cider gross profit in the associate company Curious Drinks was up 39% at £1.099m (2015: £0.789m). It stated: “Continuing Ebitda (was) up 72% to £750k (2015: £435k) as we continue to reinvest in our brands, infrastructure and supply. The associate company Curious Drinks Ltd raised funds of £1.736m (equating to a 9.79% economic stake) valuing the business at £17.74m. Your company also continued to build its most important assets – its brands – through innovative and well executed marketing, high profile sponsorships and publicity and a differentiated and creative approach to all our activities. In addition to being cited as one of the London Stock Exchange’s 1000 companies to inspire Britain, we also joined the Walpole Group of luxury brands and retained our official CoolBrand status. Prior to 4 April 2016 Curious Drinks was a 100% owned subsidiary of Chapel Down Group. In April 2016, Curious Drinks raised funds of £1.736m for a 9.79% economic share and a 50.21% share of the voting rights in the business with Chapel Down Group retaining the remaining 90.21% economic interest and the remaining 49.79% share of the voting rights. The ‘post money’ valuation of the Curious Drinks business was £17.736m. The sale of the 50.21% share of voting rights means there was a “deemed disposal” resulting in a gain on disposal for Chapel Down Group of £467,000 as well as Curious Drinks being accounted for as an associate from 4th April 2016 onwards.” Chief executive Frazer Thompson said: “Chapel Down has enjoyed another excellent year of growth. In a highly competitive trading environment your company has continued to invest in the value of its brands, its vineyards and winery and its people as we build a healthy, sustainable and innovative drinks company with an exciting future both at home in the UK and in sophisticated drinks markets abroad. With sales growth of 25% across the combined businesses – sales up 22% on wine and up 32% on beer and cider in our associate company – we are investing the proceeds to build the business whilst delivering growth of 72% in continued adjusted Ebitda at £750,000 (2015: £435,000). English wines, which are now being internationally recognised for their consistent excellence, have been the bedrock of our business. Demand is continuing to rise and we are developing a very strong brand to ensure we continue to maximise the potential that is being created through the consumer and trade excitement around cool climate wines. With distribution in Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Majestic, as well as hundreds of bars and restaurants serviced by our merchant partners, Chapel Down is able to capitalize on the increased excitement. We have recently seen the launch of Chapel Down in the USA to both critical and public acclaim with initial sales at twice our anticipated level. The potential for export in sophisticated wine markets is exciting. Our investment in Great British events and institutions is helping to bring our brand to a broader International consumer. The London Symphony Orchestra, The Donmar, Royal Opera House, The Boat Races and Royal Ascot are more than just great events to be at. They are perfect compliments for our brand: Exciting, English and aspirational. With the further development of our widely acclaimed Kits Coty super-premium range, we are also ensuring that the quality standards are kept high. We have also built a long term supply of world class fruit and invested further in our modern and efficient winery to ensure that the quality and value we can deliver to the market will be second to none. We directly planted a further 40 acres of new vineyards in 2016 and we now own and/or manage some 233 acres of vined land and continue to have long term contracts with our high quality group of contracted growers. We’ve added a further 55 acres of contracted vineyards to this list which enables us to source from a wider geographic area and offset some localized risks of adverse weather events. “Craft” beers are growing very fast, driven by more flavoursome beers that are the antidote to bland international brands that have become overly dominant. There is a vibrancy and excitement to the UK beer market, fuelled by spectacular success in the USA which is spreading internationally. With sales growth of 32% this year, in our associate company Curious Drinks Ltd, we are extremely well positioned to benefit from the boom. We have a unique and distinctive proposition rather than just a cool design, amusing name or extreme flavour. In order to make the most of the opportunity, the Company decided to raise further funds to allow the development of an exciting new brewery in the centre of Ashford on a highly visible freehold site adjacent to the international railway station. Once again, we have exceeded our own high expectations via crowd-funding, raising £1.736m and we will be building during 2017 and 2018 to further develop our UK and international business and the brand. With hundreds of pubs and bars stocking the beer and national availability through Majestic and Waitrose, further growth in sales and brand awarenesss will help to maximize the value of the business. Whilst we have continued to win awards and plaudits for our wines and beers, we have also developed our tourism and hospitality experience at the Tenterden site and whilst we will be extending that expertise to our new brewery, we will be developing the facilities further at Tenterden too. Our new Wine Sanctuary will be an industry leading tourism facility for the 50,000 visitors who come to Tenterden to learn more about our wines.”

Tax fraud charges against a high profile restaurant and bar owner have been thrown out of court by a judge. The accusations against Frank Dowling, who ran three venues in the O2 arena in London as part of a £20m-year turnover business, were dismissed at Southwark Crown Court. The 48-year-old, who opened his first bar in 2003, was acquitted when the Crown Prosecution Service offered no evidence after a four-year investigation into allegedly undeclared VAT and PAYE. US-born Dowling said he is now considering legal action against companies and organisations that have been proved of wrongdoing. He said: “I am delighted these charges have been thrown out by the judge. They were ill-founded, ill-conceived and just plain wrong.” The original accusations were made by individuals to forward their own commercial interests and accepted by authorities although they had proof to the contrary he claimed. Dowling added: “Me and my family have been through hell as they tried everything they could to ruin me. It has been devastating for my business interests as many third parties decided to treat me as guilty and sought illegal and immoral means to seek commercial advantage, but the truth is out there for everyone to see now. There’s a feeling of relief that it is over but also anger at what they have put me through and how much money has been wasted.” Dowling, who was brought up in New York, started his working life in construction then went on to London working on the property development project at Canary Wharf. His first bar was opened in Greenwich in 2003 and he became the first restaurateur to sign a lease for a venue at the O2 Arena and subsequently built up a portfolio of venues under the banner of the Inc Group, which grew to 23 restaurants, pubs and bars across the capital and Leeds, and Bristol.

KFCKFC is looking to strengthen its pipeline and is on the look out for more than 400 new sites across the UK. The company is paying finders fees of £20,000 for recognised drive-thru introductions and £12,500 for food court and restaurant sites. Its key target is London, where it wants to open 124 sites, followed by the north (106) and the south east (59). It said it was looking for development opportunities in a variety of locations, including retail parks, shopping centres, train stations and high streets and will consider freehold, leasehold or long leasehold sites. It currently has 43 sites under contract, including in Chippenham, Hemel Hempstead, Stourport and Workington. The company said: “KFC UK currently trades from more than 850 locations, from Inverness to Penzance and Canterbury to Galway, and there is ample scope to develop a further 400 locations thanks to the strength of the brand and the differentiated consumer offer.” Meanwhile, KFC is now offering delivery via its app and website from 30 of its branches in Greater London through Just Eat with more being added over the next 12 months. Just Eat UK managing director Graham Corfield told the Metro: “We’re thrilled to welcome KFC to the Just Eat platform, offering our customers in London an even wider choice of food than ever before. We’re adding KFC restaurants every week, meaning more customers will be able to enjoy KFC’s world-famous chicken at the click of a button in their area very soon.”

Whitbread-owned Beefeater has launched a new daytime saver menu. The menu, which is available from Monday to Saturday between noon and 6.30pm except on bank holidays, includes five dishes at £5 – the open chicken sandwich, beer-battered fish and chips, roasted vegetable linguine, a quarter-pound beef steak burger and a six-ounce chargrilled gammon steak. Beefeater is also offering its best value steak and chips for £6. Customers can also choose from a selection of starters and desserts from £2.79 each.

Rosa Thai CafeRosa’s Thai Cafe, the London Thai restaurant brand, has relaunched its site in Westfield Stratford as Rosa’s Thai Market Kitchen, a new concept focusing on customisable, market-style dining. The relaunched site will place an emphasis on fast service. Responding to customer feedback asking for more bespoke food options, the counter-dining system will now allow customers to order from a range of customisable dishes, including old Tom Yum soup, Massaman curry and Pad Thai noodles. Fresh and healthy salads are now served in a “build-your-own” fashion, with diners able to choose between chargrilled mixed vegetables, crunchy papaya salad or lemongrass salad, topped with satay chicken, grilled prawns or boiled eggs and finished with a choice of salad sauces, including spicy mint, creamy roasted chilli, and spicy tamarind. The new concept was created in partnership with Rebel Agency, which consulted on all aspects on the project, from rebrand to site layout. The relaunch follows the opening of the eighth branch of Rosa’s Thai Cafe in Brixton last month, with further openings scheduled for West Hampstead, Seven Dials and One Tower Bridge. Co-founders Saiphin and Alex Moore have also opened Saiphin’s Thai Kitchen in London Fields, a new Thai food concept positioned as a complementary rather than competing brand to Rosa’s, providing the local area with a delivery and takeaway-focused service.

North west-based multiple operator Blind Tiger Inns has taken the lease on The Talbot in Euxton, Chorley, with Star Pubs & Bars and is investing in a joint £320,000 refurbishment of the pub that is due to reopen in late May. The move takes Blind Tiger Inns’ estate to 12 pubs. All are leases and 11 are with Star Pubs & Bars. The investment in The Talbot will build on its past as a popular community pub creating a “quality local” with an upgraded sports offer, new menu and extended events calendar. Inside, the 1970s pub will be completely upgraded in a contemporary style to make it attractive to the whole community. The kitchen will be replaced and a new menu introduced featuring pizzas and burgers as well as traditional British pub grub. A barista quality coffee machine is being installed and the pub’s opening hours extended to 11am to enable it to serve morning coffee. The large lounge will be revamped with booth and high-level seating to cater for different groups of customers. The sports bar will be extended and 12 new screens installed. Lawson Mountstevens, managing director for Star Pubs & Bars, said: “Blind Tiger Inns is a highly experienced operator in the community pub sector and has a great local knowledge of the Chorley area and the opportunities it presents. The investment in The Talbot will enable it to adapt to the community’s changing needs and expectations and to thrive for the long term.” Blind Tiger Inns’ estate is made up of well-invested high street and estate community pubs with value offers and a sports and entertainment focus. Looking to the future, the company is committed to leased pubs. Managing director Chris Tulloch said: “The model is a good one – it enables us to expand without tying up significant capital and has proved profitable and cash generative for us. If the right opportunity presents itself, we’re interested in expanding further and have the capacity to grow to 20 sites with our existing infrastructure. We’ll consider sites with and without capital expenditure planned where we can add value within a two-hour drive of Chorley.”

Greene King’s tenanted division Pub Partners has expanded the range of its food service to tenanted and leased pubs within its estate. Since its launch last year the service has been taken up by about 150 sites and now a set of new menus have been launched including a premium option for the first time. Leveraging expertise and buying scale from the pub retailer and brewer’s managed retail estate, Greene King Pub Partners launched Pub Partners Food and Supplies service in the spring of 2016 in partnership with logistics company Kuehne + Nagel. The service provides licensees with a ready-to-go food offer and is designed for operators whose business could benefit from the addition of food. Operators using the service receive an easy to execute menu, free delivery of the necessary products, crockery, all allergen information and marketing support including menus. Greene King tenants could already opt for either a “value” or “mainstream” package, both with a range of price points and now a “premium” selection of dishes has been added to the mix. The menus are refreshed in terms of both design and content every six months with the latest version of the “mainstream” offer including a healthy choice section as well as a “chef recommends” area. Licensees also save money on waste disposal, as Kuehne + Nagel takes away food waste and other recyclables at no cost to the operator, while there is also training and marketing support available. Clive Chesser, managing director of Greene King Pub Partners, said: “The response from our pubs to the food supply service has been phenomenal with the numbers taking it up increasing all the time. Using the skills from our retail development kitchen, we have specifically designed the products and menu to be quick and easy to deliver. Many of our licensees using the scheme have already seen a significant margin increase. We have made the service as flexible as possible so that licensee can opt for select dishes to create their own bespoke menu if they wish or just go with our wholesale supply option. For pubs serving food, we look to take away as much of the hard work as possible. The new option is an exciting development that provides even more choice and reflects the fact customers are increasingly looking for a more premium experience.”

Pizza Pilgrims, co-founded by Thom and James Elliot, will open its sixth London site, in West India Quay, next month. Besides the brothers’ award-winning Neapolitan pizzas, the venue in Hertsmere Road, which opens on Monday, 8 May, will offer a “pizza playground”, with a Nintendo linked to a large television, a huge table football catering for 22 players, an outdoor bowls court and an al fresco dining spot for 70 people. Signature pizzas such as Portobello mushroom and truffle will be joined by the Friggitoria, which has so far only been available in Pizza Pilgrims’ Carnaby site. Last month, the company opened its fifth London site and first bring-your-own-beer venue – in Shoreditch High Street. Pizza Pilgrims also has an opening lined up in Waterloo, while its other sites are in Covent Garden, Soho, and Exmouth Market. It also has a residency at crazy golf concept Swingers in the City. All restaurants offer a takeaway service, while Pizza Pilgrims also operates a Piaggio Ape van called Conchetta at outdoor events.

BrewDog TapsScottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has opened its 16th international bar, this time in Estonia. The new venue has opened in the capital, Tallinn, in the heart of the city between the old town and the 10th century harbour. The site, which is one of the first dedicated craft beer bars in the country, has been built inside a restored Estonian grain elevator, previously used for storing grains in the 1900s. The interior has four preserved grain hoppers that hang from the ceiling. BrewDog Tallinn offers beer from 13 taps, alongside a range of global craft beer, cider and spirits. Tallinn marks the next stage in BrewDog’s European expansion, starting with a flagship Paris location. Following Tallinn, BrewDog will be opening a second site in Edinburgh as well as a third site in Glasgow within the coming months. Plans are also in place to establish a separate distribution network in Germany to grow its presence and promote craft beer across the continent. BrewDog now exports to more than 60 countries globally. Earlier this month, BrewDog sold a 22% stake to US private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners for £213m, giving BrewDog an enterprise value of £1bn. Co-founder James Watt said: “We nearly doubled our UK sales last year, which gives us a solid platform to expand our international reach even further. We’ve been building our presence on the continent since day one and by adding Tallinn to our list of European bars we’re reaching even more craft beer fans in the Baltic states.”

The Horse & Groom, WarehamDorset-based pub operator Max Lacy has acquired his second site and is looking to expand his portfolio further. Lacy, who runs The Black Horse in Wimborne, has bought The Horse & Groom in Wareham off a guide price of £295,000 through agent Christie & Co. The grade II-listed building has been closed for several months and the pub will be refurbished before the search begins for a publican to take on a new lease. Richard Wood, business agent in Christie & Co’s Winchester office, said, “It is always good to be involved in a sale through which a pub reopens, especially when it’s going to be in the hands of a well known and successful pub landlord such as Max Lacy.” Lacy acquired The Black Horse through Christie & Co and Propel understands he is looking to add further sites to his portfolio.

Tonic maker Fever-Tree has overtaken Britvic as the UK’s most valuable soft drinks firm after a very strong stock market run. Supportive remarks from analysts at Berenberg helped the 12-year-old company’s shares flow 1.7% higher to 1,594p, valuing it at more than £1.8bn, despite profits of just £34m last year. It floated in 2014 at 134p a share. Britvic, maker of Robinsons squash and Tango fizzy drinks and whose annual profits top £150m, is worth £1.75bn after a small share price fall. Rivals, Irn-Bru maker AG Barr and Vimto owner Nichols are valued at just over £700m.

Propel has partnered with the UK’s leading thinker and teacher on multi-site foodservice management Professor Chris Edger and Tony Hughes, cited by many current industry leaders as the most influential figure in their career, to launch the Inspirational Leadership Masterclass. Edger and Hughes will draw on their book, eMotion – how leaders mobilise positive feelings in super-performing teams, to outline the “ten moments of emotional truth” of leadership that separate the best from the rest. The event takes place in the Chartered Accountants Hall at One Moorgate Place, London, on Thursday, 8 June and Edger and Hughes will explain their book’s key proposition – that focusing on mobilising positive emotions lies at the heart of inspirational leadership. Nick Miller, former chief executive of Meantime Brewery, will outline what he believes are the ten critical ways to inspire people to achieve extraordinary performance in good times and bad. Leading brands consultant Ian Dunstall will outline how inspirational leaders set up and evolve a brand that’s loved by both employees and guests. David Singleton, vice-president of hospitality at Al Tayer Group, will outline how he instilled desire in workers to join his teams and gave them the confidence to perform and the aspiration to develop. Gary Topiol, managing director EMEA of Nudge Rewards, will outline the new technologies and interventions that will transform employee recognition and communication processes during the next ten years. Gary Harris has been deputy chairman of British Rowing for almost 20 years – a period of unprecedented success – and will outline the ten key insights into coaching outstanding performances from teams and individuals. Writer and lecturer Dr Nollaig Heffernan, co-designer of the ILM72 psychometric test, will outline the key components that underpin mental toughness for inspirational leaders and how to incorporate them to overcome everyday stress and challenges. 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 or call 01444 817691.

A host of UK operators have signed up to attend the US Restaurant Franchise Forum, with attendance free courtesy of CPL Training, which has become headline sponsor of the event. Attendees include Boparan Restaurant Holdings, Star Pubs & Bars, Square Pie, Papa John’s, Hasty Tasty Foods, TGI Friday’s, Chozen, Fulham Shore, Beds and Bars, Yummy Collection, The MSG Group, SSP, Young’s, Pret A Manger, Distinct Group, Black Truffle, Burton Inns, HMS Partnership, Hungerdog, BRGR Co, Triangle Pub Company, and Black and White Hospitality. The half-day event, which takes place on Friday, 28 April at One Moorgate Place in London, will see leading US operators present to their UK counterparts about franchise opportunities in Britain. CPL Training chief executive Dan Davies said: “We are delighted to sponsor this important seminar to allow operators to attend for free.” The five high-profile US foodservice franchisors to present at the event have been confirmed as Panda Express, the largest Chinese quick-service restaurant (QSR) chain in the US, with 1,800 sites; Little Caesars, which is the third-largest pizza QSR restaurant chain in the US, with 4,250 sites; Wingstop, the fastest-growing US QSR chicken brand, with 1,000 sites; Wienerschnitzel, the largest hotdog QSR brand in the US, with 350 locations; and fast-emerging Indian QSR/fast-casual brand Chutney’s Indian Grill. Operators can claim up to two free places by emailing

A host of operators and investors have signed up to attend the Propel Finance and Investment Conference. They include Shepherd Neame, Chalk Valley, The Wright Brothers, Bone Daddies, Risk Capital Partners, Business Growth Fund, My Lahore, Ei Group, Snug Bar, CBRE, Tamweel Capital, Bounce Ping Pong, We Are Bar, Arlo’s Restaurants, Inn Collection Group, Cambscuisine, Shanti Hospitality, Piano Works, Coaching Inn Group, Electric Star, Wells Group, Distinct Group, Vaulkhard Group, Knot Pretzel, Players Bars, Kheera Kitchen and Relish Ventures. Speakers will include Darren Tristano, president of insights firm Technomic, who will look at the key criteria US investment firms are applying in the US foodservice market and make his pick of the most interesting emerging US brands. Andrew Ball, partner at sector accountants haysmacintyre, will set out the most tax-efficient ways to offer investment in a company – and how to involve employees in a business by creating an employee shareholder scheme. Meanwhile, Andy Laurillard, founder of Thai restaurant brand Giggling Squid, which attracted investment from the Business Growth Fund in 2015, will talk about the process of preparing to attract investment, his experience of talking to potential investors and the difference the Business Growth Fund investment has made to Giggling Squid. Click here to see the full programme. The full-day event takes place on Thursday, 11 May at One Moorgate Place, London EC2R 6EA. 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 or call 01444 817691. Click here to see the full programme. The full-day event takes place on Thursday, 11 May at One Moorgate Place, London EC2R 6EA. 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 or call 01444 817691.

Subscribers to Propel Premium are to receive 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

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Finance Conference 2017

Finance & Investment Conference 2017

Thursday, 11 May 2017, 1 Moorgate Place, London EC2R 6EA

A full day conference focusing on investment, equity release, the property market and working with investors for success.

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Propel Multi Club March 2017

Propel Multi Club

9th March 2017

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US Restaurant Franchise Forum Heading

US Restaurant Franchise Forum

Friday, 28th April, at One Moorgate Place, London

Propel has partnered with World Franchise Associates to launch the US Restaurant Franchise Forum. The event, which takes place on Friday, 28 April at One Moorgate Place in London, will see leading US operators present to their UK counterparts about franchise opportunities in Britain.

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Propel Quarterly Spring 2017


The must read sector business analysis and intelligence magazine

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