Star Pubs & Bars

Story of the Day:

Sector like-for-likes bounce back in May as sun shines on pubs but not restaurants:

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

Heineken doubles investment in UK pub estate to record £44m, 1,000 jobs created

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

Other News:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive Kate NichollsOffering more part-time senior positions and showcasing real-life examples of progression would help to diversify and promote the hospitality industry, the second session of the UK Hospitality Commission 2030 was told. MPs at the session, which took place in the Houses of Parliament, heard from Courtney Avery, a youth employment ambassador; Nikki Kelly, acting chief executive and director of programmes at Tottenham Hotspur Foundation; British Future director Sunder Katwala; and Conor D’Arcy, senior research and policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation. Other ideas discussed included reviving the Saturday job and developing work schemes that suit older workers. Speakers also called for the government to put hospitality at the heart of its Industrial Strategy. Chair of the session Michael Tomlinson MP said: “It was brilliant to hear from a variety of speakers on how we can work together to promote hospitality across the UK. I was particularly interested to hear Courtney’s comments on why young people don’t view the industry as a long-term career path and I look forward to working with the Commission to develop tangible recommendations to address this issue.” UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls (pictured) added: “The industry employs more women than men and is the second-largest employer of EU workers and the fifth highest as a percentage of the workforce. Now is the time for government to step up and support our industry in developing the hospitality workforce of the future.” The Commission, led by UKHospitality, aims to promote understanding of the importance and potential of the UK’s hospitality sector and brings together a wide range of employers, all-party parliamentary groups, stakeholders, industry bodies, and authorities to deliver an employment foundation for the sector. The third session will be held in early July focusing on education and skills.

Wahaca's new menu is inspired by creations from its Test KitchenMexican restaurant brand Wahaca will launch its new menu next week inspired by creations from its Test Kitchen. The menu, which will be available from Wednesday (20 June), will highlight the breadth and diversity of the country’s cooking using produce from Mexico and the UK. Inspiration has been taken from its recently opened Test Kitchen in Shoreditch, where consumer feedback has guided the most popular dishes to appear on the new menu. New items include Mexican bowls with ingredients such as black beans, green rice, slaw and salsa, plus toppings including Wahaca classic slow-cooked pork pibil. The DIY taco board comes straight from the Shoreditch Test Kitchen, with bavette steak, grilled fundido cheese and fresh meco salsa. The crispy duck croquetas, which were a recent special, will now feature on the new menu. Co-founder Thomasina Miers said: “Our food is in a new phase of creativity as we see how the nation is whole-heartedly embracing Mexican food. Where we were once cautious about pushing the boundaries too much, we are now excited about how much we can offer in terms of flavourful, healthy, vibrant food. We feel this is only the beginning.”

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

Notes, the nine-strong, London-based coffee shop and wine bar concept chaired by James Horler, has capped its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube at £1.2m. The company has already passed the £1m mark having shot through its initial £600,000 target within two days of launch, offering 5.66% equity in return for investment. So far, 712 investors have pledged £1,011,550 and the campaign is “overfunding” with eight days remaining. Notes said trading continued to be strong across the business with like-for-like sales last week up 13.5%. The pitch states: “Since our last Crowdcube raise in 2015, we have opened four locations, doubled our revenue to almost £5m (£0.2m Ebitda), increased site Ebitda by three times and expanded our roastery, which now produces more than one tonne per week for Notes and our wholesale partners.” Notes raised £908,400 on Crowdcube in June 2015 after setting a £600,000 target.

Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse is to open a debut UK site for his chocolate brand, Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse, in London. The venue, at Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross, will be the second outpost for Le Chocolat following its launch in Tokyo in March. The King’s Cross site, which will open in October, will offer single-origin and flavoured ganache, praline and chocolate bars among other items. Located in a reimagined set of coal drops next to Granary Square and Regent’s Canal, Coal Drops Yard will house more than 50 stores from a mix of established and emerging brands, along with cafes, bars, independent restaurants and new public spaces when it opens in October. Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse was founded in 2013. Its chocolates are made traditionally in Paris in a workshop at the back of a small cobbled courtyard, with each step of the confection process mastered and controlled by Ducasse’s artisan chocolate maker Nicolas Berger. Ducasse’s restaurant at The Dorchester hotel is one of only three in London to have been awarded three Michelin stars.

The London hotel market saw a rise in supply and demand during May, according to the latest data from STR. Supply increased 2.0% during the month compared with April 2017, while demand rose 0.9%. However, occupancy rates fell 1.0% year-on-year to 82.3%, a 12th consecutive month of decline. Average daily rate decreased 4.1% year-on-year to £146.51, the third consecutive month to register a fall following 16 straight positive months in the metric. Revpar dropped 5.0% compared with May last year to £120.59. STR analysts noted that although there was a weakening of the pound in May, there was no significant increase in demand. The royal wedding on 19 May also failed to produce a significant impact on performance.

Healthy “happy eating” cafe High Mood Food has opened its second site in London. The concept has a unique focus on gut health and “intuitive eating”. The new venue has opened in Old Spitalfields Market to follow High Mood Food’s debut site in Duke Street, which launched in late 2017 following an initial pop-up in Duke of York Square, Chelsea. Executive chef and co-founder Joey O’Hare told Propel: “Our food is nutritious and inclusive. We champion a varied vegcentric menu enhanced by the bold flavours and beneficial live bacteria of fermented foods.” O’Hare has been a chef for ten years and made it to the final 12 of MasterChef: the Professionals in 2015. Her business partner and co-founder Ursel Barnes trained as an executive coach, working with highly pressurised professional clients, and knows the “critical difference a healthy diet makes to wellbeing on every level”.

Yen BurgerAsian-inspired Yen Burger is launch in London at the end of the month. Owner Yen Nguyen has secured a 2,630 square foot site at Borough Market through agents CDG Leisure. The Japanese urban-inspired restaurant will offer premium Asian-influenced burgers that combine ingredients such as Japanese chilli and kimchi mayonnaise, plus Asian herbs such as shiso, a Japanese leaf known for its taste and health benefits. Each burger will be made in-house, while there will also be a gluten-free option. All bread buns will be made daily at Bread Ahead. Side options will include Asian coleslaw, edamame beans and homemade sweet potato chips. The Asian-influenced cocktail menu will include a range of spice-infused aperitifs charged with fresh kumquat, calpis, and fresh mint. Seating will be spread across two floors for up to 70 guests, not including the bar. Nguyen, who has experience at leading restaurants in the UK and Germany, said: “Although I grew up in Europe surrounded by lots of great western food chains, I could never go a day without my mother’s Asian cuisine. I wanted to create something that combined western food with light East Asian ingredients – an Asian burger. The opening of Yen Burger sees this dream come to fruition.” Sammy Weinbaum, of CDG Leisure, who brokered the deal, added: “We are excited to secure this off-market deal for Yen.”

The World Cup is set to create the biggest pub trading days in the 2018 calendar, according to beer quality and insight expert Vianet. The company’s customer sales data revealed that in 2016, major sporting events accounted for the biggest trading days outside Christmas. The Euro 2016 match between England and Russia showed the highest trade of all sporting fixtures that year. The average number of pints served per session during the tournament was 197 (223 if the game was won by England). Pubs showing the 2016 match between England and Wales saw an uplift in volumes of 108% versus the same day in 2015. Vianet managing director Steve Alton said: “The data has clearly shown football is the biggest sport in terms of trade increase by pubs – Euro 2016 took more in sales than the Six Nations that year. Pubs need to be prepared to make the most of the World Cup and that’s not just having enough stock, its making sure it’s served perfectly and the pub is getting the maximum number of pints from each keg or cask.”

CGI of Italian restaurant Amano, which is being launched in West MallingNick Levantis and Darryl Healy are set to launch an Italian restaurant in West Malling next month for their second site in the Kent town. Amano, which is Italian for “by hand”, will specialise in authentic dishes and offer four boutique hotel rooms. Chef Fabio Moschini’s menu will include dishes such as calamaro grigliato (grilled squid, aioli and lemon) and scaloppina di pollo alla milanese (crumbed chicken escalope with green bean salad), alongside freshly made pasta dishes, classic recipes and pizza. Ingredients will be sourced from Italy and the local area. Interiors will include blackened timber cladding, clay wall finishes and marble table tops, while an internal courtyard will house an orangery and banquette seating. Levantis said: “West Malling is a vibrant and bustling market town with plenty of places to eat but one thing missing is a good Italian restaurant. Amano will bring a new flavour to the neighbourhood, a friendly, local eatery with boutique rooms for those visiting from elsewhere.” Levantis and Healy’s other site is The Swan bar and restaurant, which they opened in 2011.

Revolution Bars Group has banned plastic strawsPeel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has said he believes Revolution Bars Group should eventually maximise shareholder value despite things not going as management planned. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of 200p following the company’s trading update, Jack said: “On 17 October, the board said it ‘remains confident regarding the underlying strength’ of the business and its ‘ability to operate and grow as a standalone business’. The latest statement is less bullish – second-half like-for-like sales are down 1.7%, resulting in full-year like-for-like sales falling 0.5%, with drink performing better than food. We believe 20% of this was due to management issues – no chief executive, the operations director left in January, the property director has resigned, and four of 11 area managers have left. We expect Revolution Bars Group to be a small loser from the World Cup, leaving limited scope to recoup sales during the last three weeks. Small pockets of positivity are this year’s five new sites are performing well, with a further six due by Christmas; the completed roll-out of labour scheduling; and the appointment of a new food director. The management losses have not been a secret, having been regularly written up in the trade press. Our view has not changed – this is a company that should eventually maximise shareholder value.”

The Pub Accommodation Group has launched a free event to discuss how pub operators can maximise revenue opportunities from rooms. The seminar will take place on Wednesday, 4 July at Fuller’s pub The Counting House in London. Discussions will centre on how pubs can implement marketing strategies, and technology solutions to manage all aspects of room bookings and the guest journey. Additionally, pub companies will find out how guest reviews can help them increase loyalty, growth and profitability and how they can capitalise on the growth of foreign tourism via a new VisitEngland scheme. The authority is launching £1.2m inbound tourism scheme England’s Great National Walks, in which pubs and accommodation will play a key role. The event will also include a Tourism Alliance overview of the new Package Travel Regulations, which come into force on 1 July and will have an impact on businesses that combine accommodation with any other product or service provided by a third party. To book a place, call 01206 752571 or email info@stayinapub.co.uk. The Pub Accommodation Group comprises Stay In A Pub, British Beer & Pub Association, UKHospitality, VisitEngland, Eviivo, Guestline, Ei Group, Punch, Fuller’s and Young’s.

Papa John’s franchisee Bally Brar has opened a store in Didcot for his second site in OxfordshirePapa John’s franchisee Bally Brar has opened a store in Didcot for his second site in Oxfordshire. Brar has been a franchisee since 2014 and originally worked in a Papa John’s in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, before striking a deal to buy the business, which he ran with his brother before they decided to build their own portfolios. Brar said: “The Papa John’s property team identified the location and found the property in Didcot for me. It is a thriving town known for its rail links to Oxford and London and there are a number of housing developments being created, which all offer opportunities. It’s also close to my Abingdon store, which is helpful for staff training and marketing.” Papa John’s was founded in the US in 1984 and has more than 350 stores across the UK and over 5,000 stores in more than 40 international markets and territories.

London Craft Beer Festival, which will take place from 3 to 5 August, has announced its food line-up. Sri Lankan restaurant Hoppers, barbecue pioneer Pitt Cue, “Britalian” concept Luca and Cantonese bun specialists Bun House will take part alongside a seven-course tasting menu by chef Tom Hunt. Meat specialists L’onglet and festival circuit favourites Big Apple Hot Dogs will complete the line-up. More than 65 breweries will take part in the event at its new location in Tobacco Dock, Wapping, with ticket-holders able to enjoy unlimited 100ml pours from a selection of 100 beers. Festival co-founder Dan Sylvester said: “Each year the festival is a unique chance to eat some of the city’s best food with some of the world’s best beer and we’re excited to be joined by our biggest line-up yet of international and home-grown brewing talent.”

Brixton Brewery, the fledgling firm in which Heineken acquired a minority stake in November, has started full-scale operations at its new south London brewery. The new facility in Dylan Road is near the brewer’s original railway arch site, which will remain open to the public on Friday and Saturday nights. The new brewery will allow capacity to rise from about 14,000 pints a week to a potential 100,000 pints. A canning line has also been installed, which can handle 6,000 cans an hour, allowing Brixton Brewery to make its beer available in cans for the first time. Senior brewer Cam Mitchell said: “The best bit is the automatic mash tun rake. No more climbing into the hot mash tun to shovel out bags of heavy, wet grain at the end of a brew. It’s the dream!” Brixton Brewery was founded in 2013 by two couples – Jez and Libby Galaun and Mike Ross and Xochitl Benjamin. It brews a core range of six beers, most named after Brixton landmarks. All brews are vegan, unfiltered and unpasteurised. At the time of the deal, Heineken called Brixton Brewery the “perfect London brewer to partner”.

A total of 68 UK sites have been shortlisted in the 2018 Restaurant & Bar Design Awards. The list includes 257 projects across 34 categories from the world’s leading architects, interior designers, lighting designers and hospitality operators. The competition is an independent annual awards programme dedicated to celebrating the best food and beverage spaces from around the globe in all types of environments, including hotels, transport, business, culture, leisure and retail. Now in its tenth year, the 2018 awards received more than 900 submissions from the UK and 70 other countries. The winners will be announced at a ceremony in King’s Cross on Thursday, 4 October.

Cyril LavenantTotal visits in the out-of-home (OOH) foodservice market dropped 1% in the first quarter of 2018 versus the same quarter a year earlier, according to insights firm The NPD Group. That 1% decrease is equivalent to 28 million visits, or 112 million on an annualised basis. In the first quarter of 2018, breakfast was down in visit terms by 1.6% against the same quarter a year earlier and has now registered its second quarter of declining visits following more than seven quarters of growth. The 5.1% drop in lunch visits seen in the first quarter of 2018 against the equivalent quarter in 2017 marks the third quarter of decline for this daypart in the past year after six quarters of growth. The NPD Group said this pattern of decreasing foodservice visits was last seen at the start of Britain’s 2007/2008 recession. Dinner visits within the OOH foodservice market have been in decline for a long period. For the year ending December 2017, OOH dinner visits were down 2.3% versus the same period two years earlier (year ending December 2015). Dinner frequency is also down with consumers averaging 61.2 dinners in the past 12 months (year ending March 2018), down 3.5% against the previous year. Lunch frequency decreased by 4.8% year-on-year (from 83.1 to 79.1). The NPD Group said in the 2007/2008 recession, consumers very quickly changed their consumption behaviour and this resulted in a dramatic decline of 510 million OOH visits annually by 2010. It added the last recession was an opportunity for the industry to reshape its offering to consumers in terms of quality, choice and the overall customer experience. Despite that effort, The NPD Group said the British foodservice market has not fully recovered from the 2007/2008 recession as the industry is still 370 million visits smaller each year than 2008. The NPD Group is advising foodservice operators in the UK to respond to the changing business environment by gaining the best possible understanding of core customers, by engaging loyal customers through promotions or events that make them feel “special”, and by encouraging new customers to make return visits. NPD is emphasising the need for operators to offer value for money, the highest quality food and beverages, and a strong customer experience. It is also suggesting ways that operators can better understand the strengths of their competitors. Cyril Lavenant (pictured), head of foodservice UK, said: “Although it is too soon to say whether we are currently in recession or not, there are clear warning signs. This time around, any sustained downturn would be more difficult to overcome because the foodservice industry is seeing fresh threats on top of existing operating and cost challenges. The casual dining sector, for example, is facing pressure from quick-service brands that are offering new food choices and newly refurbished modern outlets. Consumers also have a bigger choice than ever of operators offering healthier and lighter eating. It is likely that any new recession in foodservice will be harder to fight because the landscape is already intensely competitive. Eat-out visits began to slow down after the Brexit referendum in June 2016 and the consequences of this became clear from the second half of 2017 onwards, when the market started to lose visits after four years of growth. This trend has accelerated since the start of 2018 and now is the right time to sound a warning. The foodservice industry has so far demonstrated remarkable resilience in the face of tougher operating conditions, cost pressures and the uncertainty caused by Brexit. But since the end of last year we have seen some evidence of decline and operators will need to monitor carefully whether this downward trend continues. If it does, they will have to act fast to protect their business.”

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

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

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