Star Pubs & Bars

Story of the Day:

Gaucho to shut all CAU sites immediately as company goes into administration

Gaucho Group founder Zeev Godik, who has stepped down as chief executiveGaucho is to close all its CAU sites immediately with the loss of 540 jobs after going into administration. Accountancy firm Deloitte has been appointed as administrator. It said all 22 branches of CAU would close to allow the group to focus on selling the Gaucho chain. Deloitte described CAU as “significantly loss-making” after reporting three consecutive years of falling sales. The move comes a day after Gaucho said it had filed an intention to appoint administrators. Joint administrator Matt Smith said: “Unfortunately the CAU brand has struggled in the oversupplied casual dining sector with rapid overexpansion, poor site selection, onerous lease arrangements and a fundamentally poor guest proposition all being factors in its underperformance. The Gaucho business on the other hand, which operates in the premium dining market, continues to trade well in its market segment, is profitable and has a strong underlying brand and guest loyalty. We are taking steps to stabilise the business following our appointment and are now seeking expressions of interest in terms of a sale of the Gaucho business.” Gaucho is owned by private equity firm Equistone. It has restaurants in London, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and Edinburgh as well as Dubai and Hong Kong. The restaurant group employs 1,305 people, with 540 at CAU, 714 at Gaucho and 51 at head office. The company’s founder, Zeev Godik (pictured), stepped down as chief executive in November. He was replaced by Oliver Meakin, who joined from electrical retailer Maplin. In May, managing director Tracey Matthews announced she was stepping down after 18 years with the business to pursue new opportunities. Latest accounts available at Companies House showed for the year ending 31 December 2016 CAU generated turnover of £25,507,748, compared with £16,869,476 the previous year. It reported a pre-tax loss of £2,449,797, compared with a loss of £901,643 the year before.

Fourth finds almost three-quarters of QSR workers come from outside UK

Almost three-quarters (73.1%) of workers in the quick-service restaurant (QSR) sector come from outside the UK – 62.7% from EU countries and 10.4% from the rest of the world – according to the latest figures from software company Fourth. Across the QSR, hotel and pub sectors, two-fifths (40%) of workers are from the EU, while British workers make up 50%. The restaurant industry as a whole heavily relies on foreign workers, with more than three-fifths (61%) of employees coming from overseas, a figure that rises to 70% for back-of-house roles. In the hotel sector, almost one-third (30.3%) of the workforce comes from EU countries and 10.8% from the rest of the world. Conversely the pub sector is less reliant on overseas workers, with 15.7% of its workforce coming from EU countries and 4.6% from the rest of the world. The figures come in the wake of the government’s Brexit white paper, which states free movement of people will end in December 2020. Despite the referendum result in June 2016, a steady flow of foreign workers are joining the hospitality industry, with new starters from EU countries stabilising at 40% in June having fallen from 45% during the past 18 months. Meanwhile, the proportion of new starters from the rest of the world has increased 1% during the same period. The proportion of EU workers leaving the industry has stabilised at 44%, having increased from 40% during the past 18 months. QSR and pubs have the highest churn, with the average length of tenure ten months and nine months respectively, compared with hotels and restaurants (16 months). Fourth analytics and insight solutions director Mike Shipley said: “It is crucial employers understand the make-up of their workforce and undertake targeted recruitment strategies to future-proof their business. Pubs, which traditionally employ a younger British demographic, face the least risk but other sectors, in particular QSR and restaurants, should look at their operations so they can retain employees and make their business a more attractive proposition for UK workers.”

Other News:

Charles Wells Pizza Pots & PintsBedford-based brewer and retailer Charles Wells has acquired a second site in Oxford as part of a rapid expansion programme for its Pizza, Pots & Pints managed pub concept. Following the launch of The Oxford Blue last month, The Holly Bush in west Oxford will be number seven in the portfolio, which the company plans to increase to 25 during the next three years. The latest Oxford purchase is part of a strategic move by Charles Wells to develop a strong branded offering as part of its managed pub portfolio to complement its 186 leased and tenanted pubs across the UK. Pizza, Pots & Pints offers smaller, community-based pubs with informal dining. “The Pizza, Pots & Pints format is a key part of the Charles Wells growth strategy over the next three years,” said chief executive Justin Phillimore. “We are actively looking for individual sites as well as smaller, regionally based multiples to expand this portfolio.” The Pizza, Pots & Pints concept was first introduced by Charles Wells in 2015 with the opening of The Salisbury Arms in Cambridge. Since then it has been rolled out to The Queens Head in Peterborough, The Old White Horse in Baldock, The Radcliffe Arms in Hitchin, The Carpenters Arms in Cambridge and The Oxford Blue.

London-based healthy eating brand Pod has closed its mini-bond campaign after raising almost £300,000 to support its expansion plans. The company was raising funds on peer-to-peer lending platform Code Investing via a mini-bond that will pay 8.5% annual (gross) interest rolled up and paid as a single lump sum on the maturity date after two years. Having hit its initial £200,000 target, the company set a stretch aim of £1m. It has now closed the campaign with 44 investors pledging £296,100. Pod, which has 24 sites in central London, said it had created a solid base for expansion and issued the mini-bond to support organic growth, enhance the estate and open sites that adhered to a “demanding new site-opening model”. The pitch states: “Pod is planning 11 further openings over the next three years. The fourth quarter of 2017’s sales figures was the best fourth-quarter performance in Pod’s history. Pod has also achieved positive store Ebitda for every month in 2018 and corporate Ebitda of £86,700 for the first quarter of 2018.” Last week, Pod said it was confident its new management team would turn the company’s fortunes around in 2018 after reporting a corporate Ebitda loss in its latest financial year. The company saw turnover increase 1.2% to £17,244,033 for the year ending 4 January 2018, compared with £17,041,451 the previous year. It reported a corporate Ebitda loss of £500,000, compared with a profit of £600,000 the year before. Pod said the majority of the loss (£400,000) occurred in the first half of the year. Pre-tax losses increased to £1,748,884, compared with £383,964 the year before.

Everyman Media Group has provided a trading update for the 27 weeks ended 5 July 2018. It stated: “The group ended the period operating 22 cinemas having opened a four screen venue in York during the period, as previously announced. Demand for the Everyman offer continues to strengthen and the board is pleased to announce new contracts have been exchanged for venues in Cardiff (four screens) and London Broadgate (three screens), both of which are expected to open in 2019. These sites, together with those previously announced, commit the group to a total of 15 more venues. The group has performed in line with expectations in the first 27 weeks of 2018, the board is confident of a successful outcome for the full year and the pipeline is continuing to be developed in line with the board’s expectations. The group intends to publish its interim results for the 27 weeks ended 5 July 2018 on 5 September 2018.”

Domino'sDomino’s Pizza Poland has reported system sales up 38% in the first half of 2018. Like-for-likes rose 13% and 77% of delivery sales were ordered online. It has 59 stores in 26 towns and cities to date, with five new stores opened in the first half of 2018 and six further leases already signed and a number of stores under construction. Peter Shaw, chief executive of Domino’s Pizza Poland, said: “System sales grew 38% in the first half of the year as a result of double digit like-for-like sales growth and sales from non-like-for-like stores (those opened within the past 12 months). This robust growth was achieved in spite of unseasonably warm weather in May and June, warm weather tending to suppress home delivery sales. Balancing the warm weather, from the middle of June the World Cup supported sales as football fans ordered delivery pizza while watching matches on television; the Poland matches generated particularly high sales. The proportion of sales ordered online continues to grow and, at 77% of all delivery sales ordered online, Poland is one of the leading Domino’s markets worldwide for online sales. Online ordering is not only very popular with our customers, it is a highly cost-efficient channel to operate. Healthy growth in Poland’s consumer economy has encouraged competitive activity as food delivery aggregators and direct pizza delivery competitors have been investing in both marketing and store openings, consequently the Polish home delivery market is showing significant growth, as witnessed in many other markets. Domino’s Pizza is well positioned in Poland to take long-term advantage of this market growth, through its focused proposition to deliver consistently great tasting, freshly made hot pizza, fast, time after time after time, the fundamental reason why Domino’s Pizza became the world’s number one pizza chain by system sales in 2017. Following our record number of store openings in 2017 (19 stores opened) we are focused in 2018 on balancing store openings with growing the sales and Ebitda performance of our immature stores. We expect a store to take 12 to 18 months to reach breakeven and at the beginning of 2018 more than a third of our corporate store estate was less than 12 months old and two thirds less than 24 months old. As the proportion of immature stores reduces, relative to the overall estate, we expect to see a positive impact on group Ebitda. In this context we have opened five corporate stores so far this year and have a pipeline of six store leases already signed, with a target of ten-plus store openings by the year end, representing circa 20% growth in the total store estate in 2018 from 2017. As well as corporate store openings we are in discussions with both existing and potential sub-franchisees on opening more sub-franchised stores this year. Our new commissary in Lodz is operating very effectively as it nears it first anniversary, producing growing volumes of dough and distributing growing volumes of ingredients to stores, alongside our Warsaw commissary. Gross profit margins in both store and commissary P&Ls were boosted in the first half by price deflation in the European cheese market, margin benefits that we share with our sub-franchisees. The price of cheese is material because it accounts for a significant proportion of the food cost of pizza.”

Restaurant Marketer & Innovator LiveThe Restaurant Marketer & Innovator “30 Under 30” list, which recognises 30 talented future leaders in marketing, innovation and strategy roles within the sector who are under 30 years of age, has opened its nominations for 2019. Judges will look for creativity, confidence, commercial awareness, ability to collaborate, leadership skills and perseverance. They will also look for experience in senior stakeholder management, understanding of how to develop strategy, ability to self-reflect, and clear potential to be an industry leader of the future. Nominees should have at least three years’ experience in the hospitality sector. Nominations close on Friday, 31 August. They are anonymous and can be made by anybody by clicking here. Self-nominations are accepted. Selected candidates will be invited to a boot camp day and 30 Under 30 presentation evening on 15 January 2019 at The Ned, London. All those applying for a place will be automatically considered for the Future Marketing Leader of the Year prize at the Restaurant Marketer & Innovator Awards. The award is the pinnacle of the 30 Under 30 programme and up to ten candidates will be shortlisted. This year the prize will be accompanied by a scholarship for the first time, with the package including an eight-day, fully-funded trip to the US to visit the SXSW Brand & Marketing Conference in Austin, Texas; immersion days with the marketing team at Union Square Hospitality Group in New York; and mentoring days with senior marketers for leading UK companies including Nando’s and Just Eat. With the introduction of the scholarship for 2019, 30 Under 30 2018 award-winners can enter and will be considered for the scholarship independently. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “The 30 Under 30 programme is great recognition by the industry of your achievements to date and highlights you as a leader of the future. As part of the programme you will be in a network of like-minded professionals, who you will meet and get to know. You will be our guest at a complimentary training day and get invited to take part in fun networking events throughout the year.”

Chopstix Group has started its expansion of premium, quick-service, pan-Asian restaurant brand Yangtze with the opening of an outlet at Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent. The restaurant represents the first opening for the brand since Chopstix Group purchased Yangtze late last year. A new store design, interiors scheme, digital technology and updated branding have been unveiled at the Bluewater outlet. Offering a menu of freshly cooked, Asian-themed meals, Yangtze now operates ten restaurants across the UK and Ireland, all located within shopping centres. Chopstix Group managing director Jon Lake said: “With its popularity reflected in consistently high footfall, Bluewater provides the ideal platform from which to introduce Yangtze to a wider audience. Yangtze is undeniably a premium brand that offers an authentic pan Asian-inspired menu with broad consumer appeal and we firmly believe there is potential for further growth.” As well as Yangtze, Chopstix Group also owns and operates the 80-strong Chopstix Noodle Bar chain and has tripled its number of outlets in only two years.

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPAThe British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has highlighted various projects it is involved in to combat harassment in the sector after female campaigners wrote to the body asking for support to stamp out such behaviour. Chief executive Brigid Simmonds (pictured) has written to the group in response to its request to condemn the attitude of MP Andrew Griffiths, who admitted sending sexual texts to two female bar staff over a three-week period. At the time he was a business minister while he is also former chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group. Griffiths has since resigned as a minister. In her response, Simmonds said: “In my time at the BBPA we have always been supportive of work and initiatives to combat any form of harassment in pubs as the safety and well-being of staff is of paramount importance. The Drinkaware ‘Crew’ programme and ‘Ask Angela’ supported by Pubwatch are just two examples of this, as is the work we have carried out across the alcohol and retail trade associations to protect staff from harassment or violence. Andrew Griffiths was an effective chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group but he has rightly resigned his ministerial position and referred himself to the Conservative Party’s internal procedures. I consider this a personal matter and would not wish to comment further.” The BBPA also stressed it gives no funding to the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group as the campaign group – which consists of members of the British Pub Confederation, Justice for Licensees, Licensees Supporting Licensees and the Fair Pint Campaign – had claimed. Meanwhile, the BBPA has welcomed the appointment of a new panel of experts to diagnose issues affecting the health of the UK’s high streets. The panel will advise on the best measures to help high streets thrive. The panel includes NewRiver director Emma MacKenzie, who has expertise in the retail and pub sectors.

West Midlands-based multiple operator Bolton Inns has revealed plans to build a 15-strong estate over the next few years as it takes on its first venue with Star Pubs & Bars. Bolton Inns, which operates seven sites, has added The Hare & Hounds in Halesowen to its portfolio. The Hagley Road pub is undergoing a £270,000 refurbishment that will see it offer all-day coffee, food and Wi-Fi for the first time. The revamp will include leather banquette seating, panelling, feature wallpaper and a feature fireplace. The redesign will create seating for 91 people inside and 88 outside. A new kitchen is being installed that will serve traditional pub food and Sunday roasts. The drinks range is being widened to include value and premium beer, cider and spirits. An extended range of wine, prosecco and champagne will also be available, while cask ale will become a key feature. Bolton Inns managing director Edward Bolton said: “We are only interested in sites where we can add value and working with brands such as Heineken and pub companies such as Star Pubs & Bars will provide meaningful support. We recognised the potential of The Hare & Hounds immediately. Our strategy is to grow our estate to 12 to 15 pubs in the next few years.” Star Pubs & Bars regional operations director Caren Geering added: “The introduction of food and coffee are increasingly important to a pub such as The Hare & Hounds as they give people more reasons to visit. Investments like this allow pubs to evolve and stay relevant to their communities, ensuring their ongoing sustainability.”

Recommendations are crucial for brands to “win over traditional diners”, according to a new report by data and analytics firm GlobalData. The company lists traditional diners as those “less adventurous” when it comes to stepping out of their comfort zone and experimenting with new or unusual food flavours. GlobalData said besides generating curiosity, brands needed to build trust and gain recommendations to win traditionalists over at a time when choice was “more diverse than ever”. A recent consumer survey by the company revealed “curiosity” is not as much of a motivating factor for traditional consumers (37%) than for experimental consumers (53%). More than one-fifth (21%) of traditionalists are motivated to try something new when recommended by family or friends, compared with 11% of experimentals. In the traditionalist category, only 12% stated brand trust or familiarity for tempting them to try something new, followed by adverts or media (7%) and boredom with current flavours (6%). GlobalData lead innovation analyst Ramaa Chipalkatti said: “There are other ways to persuade the less adventurous consumers to try new flavours besides a natural curiosity. For instance, these traditionalists are more driven by recommendations from friends and family and brand trust and familiarity than their novelty-seeking counterparts.”

Just EatOnline food delivery business Just Eat is recruiting 150 roles across its two UK technology centres. It is the company’s largest recruitment drive for three years. The roles include associate engineers, principal engineers and technology managers. The bolstered technology team will focus on enhancing user experience for customers and restaurant partners, and offer greater performance insight to support its 28,900 restaurant partners in the UK. Once the 150 Bristol and London-based roles have been filled, Just Eat’s UK technology team will consist of almost 650 staff across both sites. Chief product and technology officer Fernando Fanton said: “Technology and data is central to the service we provide. Adding 150 people to our technology team in the UK this year will turbo-charge the great work we have already done to personalise the app experience.” Just Eat has hired more than 200 engineers, developers and data scientists globally in the past 18 months.

Hackney-based Morty & Bob’s has signed to open a second site, at Coal Drops Yard. More than 50 stores, cafes and restaurants will be part of the new development in King’s Cross, which will open near Granary Square and Regent’s Canal at the end of October. Coal Drops Yard was built in 1850 to handle the eight million tonnes of coal delivered to London each year. Restaurants will be located in canal-side arches, within original “coal drops”, and across raised iron viaducts. Larger stores will sit at each street corner. Morty and Bob’s new site will offer the brand’s grilled cheese, salads and weekend brunches alongside coffee, all-day hot sandwiches and a “London suppliers” bar. Other operators at the development will include a fourth site for Harts Group’s Barrafina brand after the Hart brothers raised almost £2.5m on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. The Harts will also open a third site for their Mexican taqueria concept El Pastor at the development alongside new-concept wine bar and restaurant The Drop. Morty & Bob’s also has a residency in White City.

A board game restaurant concept is to launch in Shoreditch, east London, next month. Proceed Clockwise has secured the former Maida restaurant in Bethnal Green Road in a deal brokered by agents Restaurant Property. The concept will offer more than 600 board games accompanied by an authentic Neapolitan menu. The restaurant will open at the end of August and accommodate 100 covers across 2,000 square feet. The menu will include sourdough pizza made from scratch, while coffee will be supplied by Square Mile Coffee Roasters. The bar will offer craft beer and natural wine in the evenings. Director Rob Parker said: “We have been obsessed with board games, good coffee and authentic Naples pizza for a long time. This venture will give us an outlet for those passions and hopefully win a few converts along the way.” Restaurant Property surveyor Danielle Agami added: “There has been a paradigm shift in the leisure market as customers are drawn to the combination of quality food with a unique experience.”

Stephen Glancey C&C GroupC&C Group has announced its Irish cider brands, Magners and Bulmers, are to sponsor the Cheltenham Gold Cup and be presenting partners of the festival under a four-year agreement from March 2019. The company stated: “The Cheltenham Festival is the most prestigious jump racing event in Europe and one of the highest profile UK and Irish sporting and social occasions. The festival typically attracts approximately 260,000 race-goers over four days, with one third travelling from Ireland and is watched by millions of horse racing fans across the world on television and digital platforms. This agreement offers a unique platform to promote C&C’s premium Irish cider brands to new and existing consumers in Ireland, the UK and around the world. From March 2019, the Cheltenham Gold Cup will be known as the ‘Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup’ in the UK and internationally, and as the ‘Bulmers Cheltenham Gold Cup’ to audiences in the Republic of Ireland. Additionally, The festival will be referred to as ‘The Festival, presented by Magners’ in the UK and internationally, and as ‘The Festival presented by Bulmers’ in the Republic of Ireland. This innovative sponsorship agreement with the Jockey Club Racecourses will greatly enhance the visibility of both brands in their respective markets and demonstrates C&C’s commitment to continued investment behind its Magners and Bulmers cider brands.” Stephen Glancey (pictured), C&C Group chief executive, said: “Given the Cheltenham Gold Cup’s huge popularity in both the UK and Ireland, this sponsorship is a natural fit for our business. We believe the festival’s appeal will continue to grow and by association expand the audience of our two premium Irish ciders.”

Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive Kate NichollsUKHospitality has backed a report by MPs on the UK’s sharing economy and reiterated its call for the government to provide a level regulatory playing field to support hospitality businesses and increase customer safety. The call follows publication of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tourism’s report on the impact of the sharing economy on the UK’s tourism industry. The report acknowledges the need for a level legislative playing field, including sharing economy businesses paying an “appropriate level of tax”. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls (pictured) said: “The sharing economy has helped revitalise and energise tourism around the world and provided customers with greater choice. This growth is most welcome but, as the report highlights, there are serious flaws in the current system and hospitality businesses are at a disadvantage. UKHospitality gave evidence to the group’s report enquiry to raise this issue so it is encouraging to see the concerns of the sector acknowledged. The report includes compelling evidence that individuals abuse the system, acting in a commercial manner, profiting while putting customers at risk and undermining other hospitality businesses. Hotels, bed and breakfasts, and other accommodation providers comply with rigorous checks to ensure safety and operate within a very strict tax environment. Potentially unsafe accommodation and rogue landlords – effectively operating as businesses and often not paying tax – should not be tolerated, particularly when affordable housing is at such a premium in the UK. We don’t want innovation in the sharing economy to be stifled or customers given fewer choices, only that those businesses be subject to the same checks, balances and taxes as the hospitality sector.”

BT Sport has launched free digital training sessions for licensees. The events, launched in partnership with Google Digital Garage, aim to help publicans increase their business’ presence online and make more of an impact on social media. Training sessions will be available at venues across the UK including Anfield, BT Murrayfield and Old Trafford and include workshops and face-to-face coaching. Publicans will also have an opportunity to speak to specialists on topics such as website optimisation, online advertising and analytics. BT Sport launched the events after a survey revealed more than half (55%) of consumers plan ahead when going out to watch live sport, while 45% of live sport watchers “follow” a pub or bar on social media. Meanwhile, more than half (58%) of pubs that show BT Sport have said they would promote sports events on social media more if they knew how to make the most of it. Bruce Cuthbert, director of commercial customers at BT Sport, said: “Having a presence on social media has become key for publicans to encourage customers into their venues. Many of them are not entirely confident in how to do this to get the best results. Teaming up with Google Digital Garage means we will be able to give our licensees the chance to get practical training from experts they can put into practice straight away to raise their profile.” For a list of events and to book a session, visit

Alcoholic tea brand Noveltea has passed the £150,000 target in its campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to grow the business. The company is offering 4.05% equity in return for the investment. Already, 156 investors have pledged £163,150 with 33 days remaining and the campaign is now “overfunding”. The 11% ABV brand is stocked in John Lewis, Harrods and Fenwick in the UK and exports to China, Hong Kong and Germany. The company, founded by Vincent Efferoth and Lukas Passiain in April 2017, has a team of advisors that include The Head of Steam founder Tony Brookes and former Diageo director Alan Rutherford. The pitch states: “Noveltea disrupts the alcoholic beverage industry by introducing a distinctive product portfolio around the concept of tea – in two flavours. The Tale of Tangier is an infusion of Moroccan green mint tea with Caribbean rum, while The Tale of Earl Grey infuses Earl Grey tea with British gin and botanicals. Both are cold-brewed, vegan, free from artificial colours and manufactured in the UK. They can be served ice cold but also warm in the winter.”

Hospitality management solutions company Zonal has partnered with Digital Xtra Fund to help fund technology initiatives for young people across Scotland. The funding will guarantee more young people have access to digitally creative activities and give them a better understanding of the career opportunities digital skills provide. Zonal head of human resources Catriona Dick said: “We have been impressed by the work of Digital Xtra Fund and are delighted to play our part in supporting more young people as they discover the fantastic range of job opportunities open to them in the blossoming world of digital technology.” The support from Zonal will form part of Digital Xtra Fund’s annual grant awards for high-quality digital skills initiatives in Scotland and will include visits to Zonal’s headquarters with mentoring support for students. Kraig Brown, Digital Xtra Fund partnerships and development manager, said: “Zonal is a great innovator and shares our commitment to bridge the digital skills gap through partnership and collaboration.”

TGI Friday’s, led by Karen Forrester, has reported sales rose 5% on an underlying basis to £215,988,000 in the 52 weeks to 31 December 2017, with like-for-like sales up 0.5%. Ebitda was £33.3m on a 52-week basis versus £33.4m on a 53-week basis the year before, which is “year-on-year growth on an underlying basis”. The company opened five sites in the year and all “recent acquisitions are performing in line with expectations”. The company added: “(We have) renegotiated the franchise agreements on all existing sites until June 2032.” There was an exceptional charge of £1,332,000 in respect on one onerous lease provision that meant pre-tax profit dropped to £19,956,000, compared with £20,995,000 the year before.

Chozen Noodle chief executive Matthew KirbyChozen Noodle chief executive Matthew Kirby (pictured) has branded motorway service stations a “recession-proof environment” that provides a steadier stream of sales in tough times. Chozen Noodle has a franchise partnership with operator Roadchef, opening its first two motorway service station units in 2012. The brand has 25 sites across the UK – five of them owner-operated, the rest franchises – with about 15 of them at service stations. Sister brand Chow Asian Kitchen has 11 sites with franchise partner Moto, which has rolled out seven units since December. Speaking at the Propel summer conference, he told delegates: “The great thing about different channels such as motorway service stations is you’ve got a pretty recession-proof environment. When you get the highs of business it doesn’t go up as much but when you get the tough times they don’t go down as much – so you’ve got a much steadier stream. People will always travel and motorway service stations themselves have gone through a bit of a revolution. Today, if you go into Beaconsfield Services (Junction 2 of the M40) you can sit down at a Nando’s, you can go to McDonald’s and KFC or you can come to Chozen Noodle. In some of the units you see Pret A Manger and Tossed – you don’t have to have something that is deep-fried, you can have something that is pretty healthy and I think that reflects what the customer in the UK really wants. To be fair to the service station operators, they have gone through quite a transitional change. They’ve brought people like Chozen in – brands that aren’t necessarily the biggest in the world but when you go into motorway service stations you get something decent to eat. Another nice thing about motorway service stations is the online disruptors of this world haven’t found a way of dealing with that yet.” Asked by Propel managing director Paul Charity how the brands’ sales were performing at service stations, Kirby said: “We have had three or four years of very positive like-for-like sales, which I put down to two things. Firstly, Asian food has become a major trend in the UK. Secondly, people take a while to adjust their habits and patterns. Once they have seen you and tried you, rather than holding on to their bladders for another 15 miles until the next service station they’ll stop at Beaconsfield, for example. Just like any restaurant or pub business, you become part of that set pattern.”

Pret Logo – image: Sorbis / Shutterstock.comPret A Manger is to introduce compostable cutlery to all its UK sites next year. In the meantime, the company is also testing keeping cutlery behind its tills to see if that will lead to a cut in the use of plastic items. Announcing the move on Twitter, it stated: “First we trialled wooden cutlery, and you told us it wasn’t up to scratch. The good news is we will introduce compostable cutlery to all our UK shops next year.” Pret A Manager is on a crusade to reduce its plastic usage. The company has extended its water bottle deposit scheme trial to Birmingham having launched a pilot in Brighton. Last month, chief executive Clive Schlee revealed reusable cup usage at its stores had increased by ten times since the company doubled the discount to 50p.

Hawthorn LeisureNewRiver has reported Hawthorn Leisure, the 298-strong pub business it acquired in May for £106.8m, is expected to generate at least £3m of annualised operating synergies. It said integration of the business is progressing well, with a dedicated committee established to involve all stakeholders in the process; integration completion is expected in the fourth quarter of FY19. Of recent progress, Allan Lockhart, chief executive added: “This has been an active period for NewRiver, in which our continued focus on convenience and community retail and leisure assets, characterised by frequent spend on everyday essential goods and services, has enabled us to continue to deliver robust operational performance despite wider sector headwinds. Our portfolio is focused on the fastest growing and most sustainable sub-sectors of the UK retail market, with grocery, convenience stores, value clothing, health and beauty, and discounters forming the core of our retail portfolio, and a deliberately limited exposure to department stores of just 0.1% of our total rent roll. Since the start of this financial year we have invested more than £140m across our core sectors of community shopping centres, retail parks and community pubs at a blended initial yield of 13%, demonstrating our disciplined approach to capital allocation and the diversified nature of our assets. The integration of Hawthorn Leisure, which we acquired in May, is progressing well and is on track for completion in early 2019. Across our portfolio we are progressing a number of opportunities to unlock further value, having identified the potential to develop an additional 1,300 residential units across our retail portfolio and commenced a review of the Hawthorn Leisure portfolio to identify convenience store development sites. In addition, we continue to recycle capital profitably, with £25m of disposals completed or under offer, and more than £30m in the market. The 3% increase in our first quarter dividend to 5.4 pence reflects our continued commitment to deliver growing and sustainable cash returns to shareholders.”

Hotel ChocolatHotel Chocolat Group, the British chocolatier and omni-channel retailer, has announced its trading update for the 52 weeks ended 1 July 2018. Revenue for FY18 was £116m, an increase of 12% compared with the 52 weeks ended July 2 2017. The company stated: “Management expects profit before tax for FY18 will be in line with market expectations. Operationally, the business opened 15 stores in the year contributing 6% to group sales year-on-year, added 200,000 new online buyers, and has developed a number of innovative new products for the upcoming autumn-winter season. Trading since FY18 continues to be in line with management’s expectations.” Angus Thirlwell, co-founder and chief executive of Hotel Chocolat, said: “Hotel Chocolat has had another strong year. While there has been considerable recent media coverage of retail generally, we are encouraged by the performance of both our new and existing locations. Customers are continuing to respond well to our luxury brand and lifestyle propositions. During the recent heatwave in the UK, our new chilled chocolat drinks, unique chocs to chill, ice cream of the gods and improved cocoa beers have been very popular. The deep knowledge of our School of Chocolate-trained retail teams and our experiential Chocolate Lock-in sessions continue to underpin the allure of our multi-channel model.” The board expects to announce the group’s preliminary results for FY18 on Thursday, 27 September.

Martin MoralesMartin Morales (pictured), chief executive of Ceviche Family (, which runs six unique Peruvian-inspired restaurants under the Ceviche and Andina brands, will feature in the next 30-minute video to be sent to Propel Premium subscribers this Friday (20 July). A self-taught chef, Morales, who used to work alongside Steve Jobs at Apple and who won this year’s Propel Marketer and Innovator awards Innovator of the Year, talks about his career in the foodservice industry, going from giving up a successful career in the entertainment industry to operating six restaurants and a bakery serving different types of Peruvian cuisine, bringing together elements of fine dining, casual eating, regional cuisine, street food and entertainment. His website is Premium subscribers now receive weekly video recordings of key speakers from Propel events and conferences – the past five featured sector investor Luke Johnson, City Pub Company founder Clive Watson, brand strategist Ian Dunstall, Coaching Inn Group founder Kevin Charity and consultant James Hacon. Propel Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out, access to our database of 1,100 multi-site companies, and discounts to attend Propel conferences and events. 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 to sign up or call her on 01444 817691.

Aparthotel developer and operator Signature Living has revealed it is exploring new long-term funding streams as it reported a surge in turnover and pre-tax profit. The company, founded by Lawrence Kenwright, saw turnover jump to £14,117,021 for the year ending 31 March 2017 from £8,253,634 the year before. Pre-tax profit climbed to £7,429,422 compared with £5,641,458 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. The company said it continued to be profitable in the current financial year. In his report accompanying the accounts, Kenwright stated: “The group continued to improve the performance of its core operations as well as exploiting further development opportunities. During the year, continued refinements to the structure of the group enabled management to closely monitor and control financial and operational performance and efforts have been made to secure cheaper and longer-term funding streams with a view to strengthening the group balance sheet and improving cash flow. In December 2016, the original investors in the Stanley Street Hotel had their capital returned and replaced with longer-term finance. This was a key transaction for the group in terms of proving that the original concept could be placed on a long-term sustainable footing. The group acquired the former Coal Exchange building in Cardiff, its first major venture outside its traditional base in Liverpool, as it began to execute its plan of rolling out its various brands across the UK. This will become a 197-bedroom hotel. Other acquisitions took place including bar restaurant Alma De Cuba. The second phase of the Shankly hotel was completed in January 2017, adding a further 40 bedrooms and the rooftop wedding and conference facility. During the year to 31 March 2017, Signature Living boasted a group occupancy of 94% with an average room rate of £252 in some units, both numbers way ahead of the industry norm. The group has continued to trade profitably in the current financial year with a number of the established hotel operations now building a trade history of several years, all of which generated healthy trading profits. Key new funding streams are being progressed as the group continues to move towards longer-term funding partners.”

Indian kitchen and craft beer concept The Cat’s Pyjamas has secured its fifth site, in Sheffield. The company has signed a lease for a site in Ecclesall Road, which was secured by agents Pudney Shuttleworth in an off-market deal. Alison White, owner and managing director of The Cat’s Pyjamas, currently operates two sites in Leeds and one in York. The company secured the former Prezzo restaurant in Albert Street, Harrogate, for its fourth site last month.

Goodbody analysts have said a more sustained period of growth needs to be seen before inferences can be made about a turnaround in consumer spending. They added that while the hospitality sector had again shown good sales growth in June, the rate was slower than at the start of the year. They stated: “The Visa UK Consumer Spending Index for June showed overall consumer spending rose 0.7% year-on-year, following on from +0.9% in May. This represents the first back-to-back rise in more than a year. The hotels, restaurants and bars category was the best-performing sector in June, increasing 5.4% year-on-year, an acceleration of 2.1% in May. The June release follows several other positive data points seen this week (Coffer Peach, British Retail Consortium footfall data) and the growth is no doubt welcome. However, we would note that while the hotels, restaurants and bars category was the best-performing sector, growth rates are still falling short of those seen at the start of the year. The impact of good weather and the World Cup were undoubtedly the main drivers of this month’s performance and we would look for a more sustained period of growth before making inferences about a turnaround in consumer spending.”

Caffe Nero has appointed Gareth Hopley as head of communications, a new position for the brand. Hopley will report to founder and group chief executive Gerry Ford with responsibility for the brand’s internal communications. He will also lead PR and reputation management functions. Ford said: “Gareth has vast experience in leading communications in the hospitality industry. I’m delighted he has joined our team to support the continued growth of our business in the UK and abroad.” Hopley added: “The business has a remarkable track record of success built on an extraordinary culture of genuine love and care for its customers and its high-quality coffee.” Hopley joins the business from Pizza Hut Restaurants, where he ran communications during a turnaround programme that saw the brand sold to private equity and later to a multi-brand operator. He also sits on UKHospitality’s council. Caffe Nero, founded in 1997, operates more than 880 stores across nine countries.

A CGI of Old Compton Brasserie, which is opening in Soho this summer for Maxwell's Restaurant Group's tenth siteMaxwell’s Restaurant Group is set to launch all-day British concept Old Compton Brasserie in September. The company will open the venue in Old Compton Street, Soho, at a site formerly occupied by casual dining brand Muriel’s Kitchen. The 170-cover Old Compton Brasserie will offer fresh and seasonal British favourites with a “significant number of vegan options”. The space, which is being stripped back to expose original features, will offer an industrial-Bohemian feel with interesting items and sculptures sourced from markets and dealers in the community alongside pieces from local artists. The restaurant will feature a floating mezzanine, outdoor seating and a large horseshoe bar serving craft cocktails. The venue will take the group’s portfolio to ten sites, which includes Maxwell’s Bar & Grill and Tropicana Beach Club.

Camillo Benso pizzaMilanese fine dining restaurant Camillo Benso, operated by F&C Group, will make its UK debut next month when it opens a sister site in Mayfair, central London. The restaurant will launch in Blenheim Street on Wednesday, 1 August offering a menu featuring ingredients delivered daily from Italy. Camillo Benso will also feature a bar offering cocktails and small snacks, while the restaurant will host regular live music sessions featuring “contemporary takes on classic Italian beats”. A team of Italian chefs will include Luigi Esposito, who honed his skills under Michelin-starred Antonino Cannavacciuolo. The menu will feature signature spaghetti dishes, favourites such as beef tartar and ragu meatballs, and desserts created by pastry chefs focusing on Neapolitan classics. There will also be a pizza menu, while bread will be made by Niko Romito, of three Michelin-starred restaurant Reale. Camillo Benso London is the latest addition to the portfolio of F&C Group, founded by Antonio Fantini and Massimo Sanità, which also operates Milanese restaurant Giannino. The Mayfair venture will be the group’s first overseas opening, with further sites planned for New York and Miami.

The second Social Media for Profit masterclass has opened for bookings. Mark McCulloch, founder and group chief executive of WE ARE Spectacular and formerly of Pret A Manger, YO! Sushi and, will welcome you to a social media boot camp with all-new content that will provide insights into how to build your sales and brand using social media. McCulloch will be joined by Alison Battisby, founder and director of social media consultancy Avocado Social. With almost ten years of social media experience, Battisby is a Facebook-accredited trainer and will bring the latest algorithm-busting insights to the afternoon. She will reveal the key trends you need to know – from Insta Stories stickers and IGTV to top hashtags and video hacks. Battisby will also reveal how Facebook, Instagram and Twitter algorithms work, what content is given priority and how you can get your posts seen by more people. She will also look at the best ways to use Facebook and Instagram ads to get a return for your business, including what makes a good advert and how to measure it. McCulloch will talk about designing your venue for Instagram and how to encourage user-generated content. He will also look at Instagram Stories and demonstrate the most interesting features and hacks to ensure your posts get seen. McCulloch will also talk about influencer marketing – does paying someone to post about your product really work? How are brands approaching influencer marketing and does the average customer trust a sponsored post on Instagram? There will also be a rundown of the ten key social media actions to take away. The half-day event takes place on the afternoon of Thursday, 13 September at One Moorgate Place in London. Tickets are £345 plus VAT for operators, £445 plus VAT for suppliers, and £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium subscribers. To book a place, email or call 01444 817691.

The National Innovation in Training Awards (NITAs), run by the British Institute of Innkeepers (BII), is open for entries. The event, organised in partnership with Propel, highlights individuals and businesses in the sector who put their people first. The BII recognises the importance of raising standards and professionalism across the industry, as well as sharing best practice in training and people development. Successful NITAs entrants will be those that provide really great training – be they individuals, training organisations or pub companies. Judges will be looking for examples of those that truly put people at the heart of what they do – investing in their teams, innovating, motivating and striving for training excellence. The award categories for the 2018 competition are: Best Training Programme – Leased & Tenanted Companies under 200 outlets; Best Training Programme – Leased & Tenanted Companies over 200 outlets; Best Managed Training Programme Companies under 50 outlets; Best Managed Training Programme Companies over 50 outlets; Licensee Trainer of the Year Award; Professional Trainer of the Year Award; Best Apprenticeship Training Programme; Best Casual Dining Training Programme; and the Franca Knowles Lifetime Achievement Award. The Franca Knowles Lifetime Achievement Award is an industry recognition award. The winner will be chosen by a panel led by Keith Knowles, chief executive and founder of Beds and Bars. The award will identify and recognise an individual who leads by example and can demonstrate that people are at the core of what they do. The award is in memory of the late Franca Knowles, who herself was a multiple winner of NITA awards and was passionate about people and training. BII chief executive Mike Clist said: “The NITAs are a key platform that not only help us highlight how vital the training and development of staff is to our industry but, crucially, demonstrate hospitality can offer individuals a rewarding and varied career – it’s so much more than just a job.” The NITAs is the ultimate benchmark for training ingenuity in the industry – rewarding individuals and businesses who deliver outstanding mentorship and development for their people.” The awards ceremony will once again take place at the glamorous Café de Paris in London on 20 November. Entrants have until Friday, 31 August to complete their entries and can enter more than one category for consideration. Criteria for each award and entry forms can be found at Each category will have a judging panel consisting of industry experts, which will decide who has best showcased their knowledge, understanding and enthusiasm for their respective category. Finalists will be announced before the end of September and will need to attend the NITA finals judging day in mid-October.

Which female entrepreneur has most impressed you in the past year? Propel is inviting nominations for the Wireless Social Entrepreneur of the Year, which will be presented on Tuesday, 4 September at the end of the Women’s Entrepreneur Conference. Readers are invited to sent their nominations to Propel managing director Paul Charity at

Ann ElliottPropel has partnered with Elliotts chief executive Ann Elliott (pictured) to launch the sector’s first conference featuring an all-female line-up of company leaders. The event takes place on Tuesday, 4 September at One Moorgate Place, London. Speakers will be Wahaca founder Thomasina Miers (“How to ascertain if your business idea is genius or madness?”); Mowgli founder Nisha Katona (“From barrister to bunny chow: why risk it all for restaurants?”); Sophie Bathgate, of Sophie’s Steakhouse (“What I would do differently next time”); Artizian founder Alison Frith (“How to market a startup”); Cheshire Cat Pubs & Bars founder Mary Mclaughlin (“Growing an idea from startup to sustainable”); Eve Bugler, founder of BabaBoom (“How to keep the joy when it’s all on your shoulders”); Jane O’Riordan, founder of The Dynamo (“The importance of patience”); Sally Jackson, owner of The Pink Pig Farm (“The ten hardest lessons I’ve learned”); Christine Winton, of Siam Eatery (“Can you have work-life balance when you start a business?”); Vanessa Hall, co-founder of Jack & Alice (“The importance of staying true to your values when you start and expand your business”); and Laura Harper-Hinton, co-founder of Caravan (“Why people are key to your success”). Elliott said: “Female entrepreneurs are making an enormous contribution to the hospitality sector – but we need even more of them. The conference is intended as a showcase of some of the sector’s best female entrepreneurs and to encourage even more of them to take the plunge.” Propel managing director Paul Charity added: “If our sector is to truly serve its market, we need more companies led at senior levels by women. We hope companies send their brightest female talent to the conference to pick up inspiration and develop their entrepreneurial talent.” Tickets are £195 plus VAT for Propel Premium subscribers, £245 plus VAT for operators and £395 plus VAT for suppliers and can be booked by emailing or calling her on 01444 817691.

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Propel Multi Club July 2018

Propel Multi Club & Summer Party

5th July 2018

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Propel Quarterly Summer 2018
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