Star Pubs & Bars

Story of the Day:

Wagamama debuts in Austria, 24th international territory

Wagamama has launched a new vegan menu featuring 29 plant-based dishesWagamama, the leading international pan Asian-style restaurant business, has opened its first Austrian restaurant at the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet in Parndorf, Vienna. This brings the number of countries in which Wagamama operates across the globe to a total of 24. Wagamama’s franchise partner for the Austrian market, The Medusa Group, operates a number of hospitality, foodservice, licensed and entertainment brands in its home base of Slovakia, as well as rapidly growing its businesses in Austria and the Czech Republic. Designer Outlet Parndorf is one of the most successful and popular shopping destinations in central Europe, with around 180 high-end retail outlets. It attracts millions of customers annually from Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, as well as from China, South Korea, Russia, Singapore and the Middle East. The 311 square metre restaurant is located in the busy shopping destination which is popular with Viennese residents. It will seat 144 guests inside, with a further 126 covers on the outside terrace. The Wagamama brand’s positive eating philosophy will be reflected in a menu of fresh food and beverages prepared and cooked to order from its open kitchen. Brian Johnston, managing director of Wagamama International, said: “Over the last few years, consumers in Austria have been embracing many different types of cuisine so it is the perfect time to bring Wagamama to the market. Our franchise partner, The Medusa Group, brings a wealth of professional and operational expertise to the launch of Wagamama in Austria.” Peter Štecko, chief executive of Medusa Group, the Austrian franchise operator for Wagamama, added: “We are convinced that customers in Austria are ready to embrace a concept that has already become hugely popular with millions of people around the world. The McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Parndorf has a high footfall and international clientele, making it the ideal location for Wagamama’s first restaurant in Austria.” Mario Schwann, centre manager McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Parndorf: “Our aim is to make the shopping experience for our guests the best possible and the innovative gastronomic concept of Wagamama will complete our gastronomic offer – a special highlight for our national and international visitors.” Wagamama has more than 180 restaurants across 24 countries worldwide, with plans to open in a further three new territories in the next 12 months.

Ei Group to launch ‘barrel top’ pizza concept

Ei Group is launching a 'barrel top' pizza conceptEi Group is launching a “barrel top” pizza concept to help its publicans tap into the pizza market. The new offer will be unveiled at EiLive2018 – Ei Publican Partnerships’ annual series of nationwide trade shows that start next week. The offer has been specifically designed to support publicans with all aspects of developing and running a “commercially attractive pizza proposition”. It also caters for pubs that currently operate without a food proposition. A bespoke, high-quality, pre-rolled dough made to the specific requirements of the group has been sourced for the offer, along with a range of other ingredients. A suitable set up will be recommended depending on the needs of the site. Ei Group head of food Paul Farr said: “We have focused on identifying key trends across the eating out market and supporting our publicans with simple offers that tap into them and drive sales. We’re confident barrel top can deliver tangible results for all our publicans. Barrel top will be an evolving offer as we aim to take key learnings from our managed estate and share best practice with publicans across our wider portfolio, creating additional value across the entire business.” Publicans interested in barrel top will be able to understand more about the concept at EiLive2018, where it will have a dedicated space at all five shows. They take place on Tuesday (27 February) at Elland Road, Leeds; Thursday, 1 March at NEC Birmingham; Tuesday, 6 March at EventCity, Manchester; Tuesday, 13 March at London Olympia; and Tuesday, 20 March at Ashton Gate, Bristol.

Other News:

Be At One has launched a new menu and has become the latest sector company to remove plastic strawsCocktail bar specialist Be At One has revealed it has a “strong pipeline for this year” as it reopens its debut site, in Battersea, following a £200,000 refurbishment. The site in Battersea Rise has undergone a transformation to feature a new exterior, centre-stage gold bar, neon signs, mural artwork and wood-panelled walls. Chief operating officer Andrew Stones said: “We’re really excited about this investment. It’s an important and nostalgic project for the company as Battersea was the first Be At One bar having opened in 1998. We have put a great deal of thought into the look and feel. We want to continue the pace of our current momentum and this includes revamping our existing portfolio of bars as much as it does opening new venues. This project follows a similar recent programme at our Hammersmith bar, with excellent results, so we’re extremely excited to see how the Battersea bar is received by our customers. While the bar has a slightly different look to some of our others, it definitely still holds the classic Be At One feel. Guest experience continues to be at the forefront of everything we do and we want our customers to enjoy the new surroundings as the Be At One they know and love.” Be At One plans to expand its portfolio of 33 bars – 17 in London – to more than 70 in the next five years. Stones added: “We continue to actively seek new bars in locations that culturally match our offering, which is something that is incredibly important to us as a business, and have a strong pipeline for this year.” Be At One, which is backed by Piper, was founded in 1998 by Steve Locke, Leigh Miller and Rhys Oldfield.

Leaders in the eating and drinking out sector anticipate a tough year of trading in 2018 but remain confident on future prospects, according to CGA’s 2018 Business Leaders’ Survey. The annual poll of senior industry leaders revealed operators have entered this year on the back of a difficult 2017. For the first time since the survey launched, more leaders (33%) reported their performance had been below expectations during the past six months than above expectations (26%). Only a third of leaders (34%) said they were optimistic about the eating and drinking out market as a whole over the next 12 months. The survey found the dip in confidence was the result of a number of challenges, with business rates the leading cause for concern, followed by the National Living Wage, rising food costs, and market saturation. After a string of stories about casual dining restaurant closures of late, there are also mounting concerns that supply is outstripping demand. Difficulties are being “intensified” by Brexit, with two-thirds (67%) of leaders saying their business had been negatively affected amid fears of staff shortages, especially in London. Many brands are looking to scale back openings in 2018, with 60% of leaders predicting fewer new entrants to the market this year than last. Nine in ten leaders (90%) expect to see more business failures in 2018 than in 2017. Despite this, almost two-thirds (64%) of leaders are optimistic for their company’s prospects in the next 12 months, compared with 68% at the start of 2017. Only 9% are pessimistic. Drinks-led operators are the most optimistic (43%), compared with 30% of food-led company leaders. With evidence of a more sustainable level of supply in drinks-led venues, this part of the market is tipped for a better 2018 than restaurants. CGA chief executive Phil Tate said: “With property, people and food costs rising and the twin threats of saturation and Brexit looming large, brands face something of a perfect storm of challenges this year. But this is a very resilient industry and our poll shows there are bright spots and opportunities for growth in the market too. People will continue to enjoy eating and drinking out in 2018 and operators that can best understand and deliver the experiences consumers crave will be the winners in an ultra-competitive market.”

Farringdon-based French restaurant and delicatessen La Ferme has opened a second London site, in Primrose Hill. The brand has taken over a site in Regent’s Park Road that was formerly occupied by Italian bar Negozio Classica. La Ferme has opened across basement, ground and mezzanine levels covering 1,440 square feet. The brand offers traditional French dishes featuring seasonal artisan produce, often sourced from France. Ben Freeman, leasing agent at Shelley Sandzer, which brokered the deal, said: “Primrose Hill, and Regent’s Park Road specifically, is the perfect location for La Ferme’s second restaurant. The brand will fit right in with this friendly neighbourhood, which is already home to a thriving restaurant scene offering wine bars and alfresco dining.”

The former Edwin’s French Wine Bar site in Shoeditch, which has been acquired by the owners of Michelin-starred restaurant Ellory for a new Parisian bistro conceptThe owners of the soon-to-close Michelin-starred Ellory restaurant are set to launch a Parisian bistro concept after acquiring a site in Shoreditch, east London. Jack Lewens and Ed Thaw have secured the lease of Edwin’s French Wine Bar, just off Great Eastern Street, through agent Christie & Co. The specialist wine bar, which underwent a refit in 2013, comprises a lobby, an open-plan interior with bar counter and seating for 50 covers, and a kitchen. It also has outside seating that provides 25 covers. Lewens and Thaw are currently rebranding the venue, which will be called Leroy. William Langton, business agent at Christie & Co, who handled the sale, said: “With 60,000 square feet of new workspace under development directly opposite the premises and due to be operational in the near future, the buyers saw an opportunity with lengthy remaining terms of lease in addition to the assurance of new footfall to the area.” Ellory, based in Mare Street, Hackney, will host its last service on Sunday, 4 March with Leroy due to launch on Monday, 19 March. The website stated: “The name is one of our pet names for Ellory since many people couldn’t seem to say our name properly. Some things will be the same – but many will be different.”

Tomos Parry, former head chef of Kitty Fisher’s in Mayfair, is to open his first solo restaurant next month. Brat will launch in Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, on Saturday, 17 March drawing on Parry’s Welsh heritage and influences from the Basque region of northern Spain. Brat, a colloquial term for “turbot”, will offer a menu favouring seasonal British produce and cooked on an open grill. The first-floor restaurant will feature art deco wood-panelling and large steel-frame windows. The open kitchen and ovens will sit at the heart of the room, surrounded by a counter bar with high stools. Parry will collaborate on the wine list with Keeling Andrew & Co, a new wine import company set up by the founders of Noble Rot. Parry said: “Since leaving Kitty’s, I’ve been working closely with farmers and fishermen to create a menu structured around native ingredients at the peak of their season. For me, the simple pleasure of eating well is what Brat is all about. It’s a place I would want to eat – whether that is one dish with a glass of wine at lunch or settling in at the counter for a few hours.”

The British Takeaway Campaign (BTC), an industry umbrella body led by Just Eat, has called for a “non-discriminatory” long-term immigration system that prioritises skills and sector shortages, and help in building a “pipeline of home-grown talent”. The BTC’s calls follow the publication of quarterly migration statistics that show a fall in EU net migration during the past year. Among measures the BTC has called for in its submission to the Migration Advisory Committee are for the government to revise the Shortage Occupation List to include specialist chefs; minimise limits on free movement; create a 12 to 24-month visa for low-skilled migrants that bind them to an employer; and provide support and incentives for the takeaway industry to invest in training employees locally. BTC chairman Ibrahim Dogus said: “With a third of takeaway restaurants experiencing skills shortages, particularly chefs, and more than a third saying Brexit will make it more difficult to recruit staff, it’s vital the immigration system enables the sector to access the skills it needs from inside and outside the EU. The BTC is calling for the development of a long-term immigration system that doesn’t discriminate between EU and non-EU migrants and instead prioritises skills and sector shortages – helping to support thousands of takeaway restaurants. This needs to go hand in hand with investment in high-quality vocational training to build a pipeline of home-grown talent.”

Hampshire-based Palm Group restaurants is to open its seventh site – in Deane, near Basingstoke. The family-owned company will open a restaurant, provisionally named The Palm Brasserie, in June offering “international cuisine with an Asian twist”. The company currently operates four restaurants in Hampshire – Gandhi Indian Restaurant and Palm Pan Asia, both in Winchester, The Shapla in Alresford, and Thai Lounge in Ropley – as well as Goa Balti in Everleigh and Palm Indian Restaurant in Froxfield, both near Marlborough in Wiltshire. Three of the Hampshire sites have been shortlisted for the Asian Restaurant Awards, organised by the Asian Catering Federation, with the winners announced at a ceremony on Monday, 5 March.

The free-of-tie lease of The Winchester Hall Tavern in Highgate, north London, has been brought to market by Davis Coffer Lyons on behalf of Mulberry One Capital. The landlord is seeking to let the property on a free-of-tie commercial lease with rental offers invited. The property covers 3,000 square feet in shell condition over ground floor and basement. It occupies a prominent corner location close to Highgate underground station. Davis Coffer Lyons associate director Connie Start said: “The Winchester is a much-loved community asset with a long history dating to 1881. The name derives from Winchester Hall, a late 17th century mansion nearby. The pub is currently closed, providing a significant opportunity for a new operator to bring this beautiful converted Victorian building back into the community.”

Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog and The Alchemist, which is backed by Palatine Private Equity, have signed agreements with operations management app Trail. The deals see BrewDog introduce Trail’s checklist platform in all 34 of its bars in the UK and Europe, while The Alchemist is set to go live with the Trail solution. Trail’s platform gives a step-by-step list of daily tasks to help operators maintain standards and best practice across multiple sites. BrewDog operations director James Brown said: “There’s no point introducing tech for the sake of it, we fundamentally know the roll-out of Trail enables us to work smarter, enhance our daily operations and drive efficiency at all levels of our business.” The Alchemist operations director Mark Burville added: “Trail is a fast and convenient way of controlling our compliance and we’ll be rolling it out across our estate shortly. We have exciting expansion plans for the future and see Trail helping us on that growth journey as it’s so intuitive to use.” Trail co-founder and managing director Joe Cripps said: “We’re delighted to add two great brands in BrewDog and The Alchemist to our growing portfolio of multi-site pub and bar customers. Our platform can be tailored to the wants and needs of businesses so they can reinforce best practice, culture and processes across their estates.”

The industry needs to further improve its relationship with the education sector to make hospitality a first-choice career for future generations, according to Perceptions Group, the nationwide pubs and careers programme. Ahead of the forthcoming Pub & Bar Careers Apprenticeship Week, which is organised by Perceptions Group, chairman Keith Knowles said: “We still have a long way to go in educating those who regulate our sector as to the huge contribution hospitality makes to the economy of this country. We also need to further improve our relationship with the education sector as we are set to grow by 4.3% creating 19,000 more jobs by 2020. We need to be on the careers agenda as a first choice with the generations to come.” Great British Bake Off winner Candice Brown is supporting this year’s event, which will take place at the House of Commons on Tuesday, 6 March during National Apprenticeship Week. Brown, who was brought up in a pub and shot to fame after winning the seventh series of the television show, will take to the stage to demonstrate her baking techniques. More than 120 young apprentices from sector employers, trade associations and training companies will meet with ministers and MPs to showcase opportunities in the industry. Knowles added: “We have had a fantastic response this year. More than 70 MPs have already registered their attendance and this year we have an increase in the number of parents attending as well as good representation from the education sector.”

Goodbody leisure analyst Rachel Fox has said Irish hotel operator Dalata’s valuation is “broadly up with events”. Issuing a ‘Hold’ note on the shares, Fox said: “Dalata will report its FY17 results on Tuesday (27 February). We forecast FY17 revenue of €347m, +19% year-on-year, and Ebitda of €103m, +21% year-on-year. We are relatively comfortable with our forecasts given the group had a pre-close update in December and management noted trading had been strong across 2017. No major revpar growth surprises are expected given that in December the group reported revpar growth to November of 9.5% in Dublin, 8.7% in provincial Ireland and 10.4% in the UK. While Dalata’s UK hotels generally outperform the wider UK hotel market, we remain cautious on the overall UK hotel market given economic uncertainty and deterioration in recent revpar data. We will be looking for factors that can see Dalata’s UK estate continuing to outperform. Given the group is in roll-out mode in the UK from 2019 onwards, a new opening announcement would be received well and show progress on its target to open circa 1,200 rooms per annum. Across 2018 the group currently plans to open 516 rooms in Dublin, 228 in provincial Ireland and 237 in the UK. The majority of these hotels are second-half weighted. While these hotels will have little contribution to 2018 numbers, we expect an update on the expected timings of new openings and guidance on any potential opening costs. Given the group’s strong free cash flow yield from 2019 onwards, we think a maiden dividend would make sense. We continue to believe Dalata management are top operators and the Irish hotel market will remain in good shape in 2018 given the strong domestic backdrop. However, we think there is limited scope for upside surprise to revpar growth given the level of supply coming onstream in the second half of 2018 and tougher comparatives. In our view, at circa 12 times EV/Ebitda the valuation remains up with events and we retain our ‘Hold’ recommendation.”

Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive Kate NichollsOverwhelming support from Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and British Hospitality Association (BHA) members has triggered a merger and the creation of UKHospitality, a strong, united voice for the hospitality sector. UKHospitality will be the voice of a sector that generates £130bn revenue each year, providing an authoritative voice to more than 700 member companies, operating 65,000 venues in a sector that employs 2.9 million people. The association will spearhead hospitality’s representation on the strategic, structural and regulatory issues it faces, campaigning for policies to help the sector achieve further growth as a key driver of the UK economy. Hospitality has faced myriad cost pressures in recent years that have severely impacted the sector, with 2017 restaurant insolvencies alone up by a fifth on the previous year. UKHospitality will ensure the government has a full understanding of the social and economic impacts of policies such as the National Living Wage, business rates and Brexit on the third largest private sector employer in the UK. The new body has three clear objectives – firstly, creating a tax system which is fit for purpose, one which reflects the realities of business in the 21st century and allows a level playing field for traditional high street and community-based businesses which now compete with online companies; secondly, a regulatory regime that allows the hospitality sector to focus on growth rather than red tape; and finally, developing the hospitality workforce of the future. The board of UKHospitality will be led by Kate Nicholls, chief executive; Nick Varney, of Merlin Entertainments, chairman; and Steve Richards of Casual Dining Group, deputy chairman. Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA, has decided to pursue other interests after eight years with the organisation. Nicholls (pictured) said: “The hospitality sector is at a critical point, with fantastic innovation, dynamism and enthusiasm across the industry, however this is being jeopardised by significant cost increases and red-tape. The incredible member support for creating UKHospitality demonstrates our ambition to reshape the future of an industry, which represents 10% of UK employment and generates £38bn of tax for the Exchequer. I look forward to working closely with all members to achieve our vision and to give a sector of huge economic, cultural and social importance the voice it deserves within government, and to deliver the much-needed policies that will support its strong growth trajectory.” Varney said: “Today’s launch is a significant moment for our sector. The hospitality industry needs the right commercial environment in which to prosper. Our vibrant and dynamic sector has been overlooked in policy decisions over recent years, which has had a direct impact on jobs and value creation. I thank Ufi Ibrahim for her significant contribution to the BHA; as chief executive she reshaped and reformed the organisation from the ground up, raised its profile with government and championed many policy-shaping initiatives. The board and members wish her every success in her future ventures. I look forward to working closely with Kate Nicholls and the UKHospitality board, to enhance the development of the diverse and innovative hospitality sector in the UK.” Richards added: “We are today reiterating our call for a dedicated minister to represent an industry which is the third largest private sector employer in the UK; double the size of financial services and bigger than automotive, pharmaceuticals and aerospace combined. The sector’s tax contribution is as big as the defence budget, and warrants focused attention from government. Kate and the team have an ambitious plan to secure the future of our industry and will be actively engaging on behalf of the sector at home and abroad.”

Easyhotel has opened a site in NewcastleEasyhotel has placed 45,454,546 new ordinary shares of 1.0 pence each at a price of 110p each to raise approximately £50m – £48.8m after expenses. Proceeds of the placing are to be primarily utilised to fund the acceleration of the group’s owned hotel roll-out strategy. Chief executive Guy Parsons said: “The group has made excellent progress in line with its strategy to speed up owned hotel development and accelerate the roll-out of franchise hotels to drive returns on investment. The strong and ongoing market outperformance of our growing owned hotel portfolio has continued into the current financial year with revpar up 10.9% against their competitive set as measured by STR. The proceeds from the placing will enable us to continue the acceleration of our owned hotel development pipeline, allowing us to take advantage of the significant opportunities within our markets, delivering enhanced returns for our shareholders and underpinning the long-term growth of the Easyhotel brand.”

The nation’s best casual dining restaurants and pubs have been revealed at the Casual Dining Restaurant & Pub Awards 2018, which took place at the Marriott London Grosvenor Square, following the first day of the Casual Dining show. Living Ventures, Wagamama, Bistrot Pierre, Brewhouse & Kitchen, Loungers, The Alchemist, Flat Iron, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and The New World Trading Co (NWTC) were among the operators who took home awards. It was a memorable night for Living Ventures, which won three trophies including the newly introduced, and hotly-contested, Casual Dining Group of the Year Award. Its opulent Grand Pacific venue, in Manchester, also collected the Best Designed Bar and New Casual Dining Concept of the Year awards. Wagamama was also celebrating – retaining its title of Large Multi-Site Restaurant Brand of the Year. Another second year in a row winner was The Malt House in London, which was named best Independent Pub of the Year once again. Paul Merrett, chef-director at The Jolly Fine Pub Group, said: “We’re so honoured to scoop this award for the second year. Last year’s win not only boosted our marketing campaign, it also had a terrific motivational impact on the whole team. A casual dining award in my sector, is the trophy we all want to win and I’m super proud of the guys at The Malt House in Fulham.” Chris Hill, chief executive of The New World Trading Company, received this year’s Trailblazer of the Year Award – the only category nominated directly by the judges. He said he was “humbled and stunned” to win and dedicated the award to his incredible team. “NWTC is an exceptional company that does things a little differently and we have had amazing success to date. We have an exciting time ahead and I feel lucky to do what I do, with a team of incredible people around me. To be recognised in this way is testament to the ethos of all in NWTC and I can’t wait to share this success with them,” he said.

The revelation that the cold storage hub at the centre of KFC’s chicken delivery problems has not yet been granted registration shows the shambles the company’s operations are in, the GMB union has said. Rugby Borough Council confirmed the cold storage facility used by DHL, which took over KFC deliveries last week, had not yet been registered. GMB has said the crisis that has engulfed KFC’s UK operations this week could have been avoided if warnings had been heeded months ago. The union wrote to the company in October warning over its decision to switch its deliveries from the food delivery specialists Bidvest Logistics to DHL. Mick Rix, GMB national officer said: “It’s taken days to uncover the real truth about the shambles at this DHL hub that has plunged KFC’s supply chain into total chaos. They’ve been winging it. It’s clear that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand’s doing in this operation. It’s the company’s colonels who need to be held to account for this mess, not the workers who have lost time and money through no fault of their own.”

Revolution de CubaPeel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has forecast that Revolution Bar Group should provide a positive start to results season when it reports on 2 March. In a note, he stated: “The positivity relates to like-for-like sales, but we expect profit before tax to be down slightly due to New Year’s Eve falling in the second half (with an impact equivalent to £0.5m, or 10% of first-half Ebit) and a higher depreciation charge. Like-for-like sales rose by 1.9% over the 27 weeks to 6 January, and by 5.9% over the four weeks to 31 December. Thus, like-for-like sales recovered to 3.1% in the second quarter, as measured by the 14 weeks to 6 January, a material improvement on quarter-one’s 0.3%, which we believe was affected by slower trade in Manchester after the terrorist attacks and takeover distractions. Positive influences on second-quarter trading were efforts to drive pre-bookings and strong trading in the wet-led/late night market, which more than offset the impact of inclement weather in December. At present, the biggest influence on trading in the sector is supply and competition; the bar market has benefited from 10% supply reduction over the past ten years. This year, New Year’s Eve falls in the second half of the financial year, hence the like-for-like figures above are based on the period to 6 January. Without New Year’s Eve, reported like-for-like sales for the 26-week first-half period and second quarter are up 0.4% and 0.6%, respectively. Thus, we estimate New Year’s Eve is worth £1.2m in sales (£0.5m in profit). We would have forecast Ebitda of £9.7m for the first half of 2018 (vs £9.2m in first-half 2017), but are forecasting flat Ebitda solely due to the timing of New Year’s Eve. We believe the company is on track to achieve at least £1m of cost savings, but with only a quarter of this benefit occurring in 2018E, and the other three-quarters in 2019E. This reflects the takeover approach in the first half. We expect to hold our full-year forecasts (profit before tax £10.1m; consensus £9.7m), which anticipate like-for-like sales rising by 1%, margins falling by 20 basis points, six sites opening, and net debt increasing by £2m to £7.5m (of which £2.5m should be exceptional one-off costs). Expansion should be on track, following the opening of one site in July and three in December. Revolution bars Group is currently valued at 5.6 times EV/Ebitda, well below the 7.3 times multiple on which the company floated. Lower supply and competition has transformed some leisure sub-sectors, and although the bar market has not benefited from supply reduction as much as clubs and wet-led pubs, it is still a beneficiary, and we believe this should eventually be reflected in Revolution Bars Group’s valuation.”

More than one-quarter (28%) of out-of-home visits involve some form of deal or promotion, according to new data from insights firm NPD Group. And, with the figure amounting to three billion visits a year and an associated spend of £14.5bn, the company said it was vital operators offered the right deal or promotion. Visits involving a deal or promotion grew more slowly than non-deal visits throughout 2016 and most of 2017 because “consumers not only found good value for money without using meal deals and promotions but also because they weren’t inspired by what was on offer”. NPD Group said the majority of foodservice outlets were offering a basic meal deal, price cut or voucher resulting in nothing “standing out from the crowd”, while there was a danger consumers would start to suffer “discount fatigue”. However, NPD Group said deals were already recovering as its data showed in the year to December 2017 promotion visits grew 2.8% while non-deal visits declined 0.4%. The company said deals and promotions would increase in importance as economic factors continued to “put pressure on consumers’ wallets”. NPD Group said operators should avoid returning to old habits and focus instead on ensuring their deals and promotions were targeted. The company said meal deals involving a selection of items for a set price, for example, were ideal for lunch by saving consumers time and money but at dinner the best promotions were discounts or money-off vouchers as this was the most expensive daypart. NPD Group head of foodservice UK Cyril Lavenant said: “Consumers love saving money and a deal or promotion is perfect. To stand out from the crowd, deals and promotions need to really have an impact. Offering a free product (with nothing expected in return from the customer) would be a welcome surprise. Equally, offering a substantial and worthwhile reduced price for a limited time only is a great way to drive footfall. It’s also a great tactic for creating a buzz with a good chance news of the promotion will spread.”

Pesto, which focuses on Italian food in a pub setting, has reported turnover increased to £10,186,648 for the year ending 30 June 2017, compared with £9,468,348 the previous year. Pre-tax profit fell to £62,230 compared with £197,151 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In a report filed with the accounts, the directors stated: “During the year the company opened its ninth and tenth sites in Marton in Cheshire and Oakerthorpe in Derbyshire respectively. All sites continue to perform well and the management team is focused on opening more in the coming year. The operating profit for the year was £236,050 (2016: £381,502) with the decrease from the prior year reflecting the costs associated with opening two new sites in the financial year.” At the end of the period, the number of employees increased to 331 from 307 the previous year. Pesto, which is owned by Sara Edwards and Neil Gatt, operates restaurants across the Midlands and north west.

More than 70% of diners prefer to book a table on a restaurant’s own website rather than through third-party booking providers, according to the latest Go Technology report from hospitality management solutions company Zonal Retail Data Systems and CGA Peach. The report said the findings highlighted how important it was for operators to provide a seamless booking experience around the clock. Of the 5,000 British adults surveyed, more than half (52%) prefer to book a table on a mobile device, meaning operators shouldn’t underestimate the power of a mobile-friendly website to drive footfall by featuring an online booking application. However, despite the upward trajectory of mobile bookings, ordering and payment, human interaction remains important with a significant number of respondents preferring to use the phone to secure their table. The report said customers were also seeking to stretch their cash, with more than three-quarters (78%) influenced by special offers. Zonal managing director Olivia FitzGerald said: “Menus should be easy to find and special offers clearly signposted to entice customers to book a table and spend their hard-earned cash.” CGA director Jamie Campbell added: “Investing in technology that allows customers to easily access your brand on the go is a must for all forward-thinking operators as well as developing processes that ensure a seamless experience between the virtual customer journey and the experience delivered in the venue.”

Scottish brewer and retailer Innis & Gunn has appointed Stephen Drew as its new director of operations for its Beer Kitchen business, Propel has learned. Drew has joined from YO! Sushi, where he was an operations manager. He previously worked for G1 Group and The Diner, which is owned by Good Life Group. Dougal Gunn Sharp, Innis & Gunn founder and master brewer, said: “Stephen brings a wealth of operations experience to the company and we look forward to working together as we grow our business.” In September, Innis & Gunn secured a £15m investment from L Catterton, the largest consumer-focused private equity firm in the world, as it sold a 27.9% stake in the business. Innis & Gunn currently operates four Beer Kitchen sites – in Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews.

BrewBroker co-founders Ben Morgan-Smith (left) and Toby ChantrellBrewBroker, which describes itself as an online market place for the global brewing industry, has launched. The company, which raised £390,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube last year, has signed up more than 85 industry suppliers across the UK and Europe, including Brewhouse & Kitchen and Kegstar, and more than 70 buyers to bring the platform to market. The aim of BrewBroker is to enable businesses to search, sell and buy brewing services from each other. It likens itself to Airbnb and Uber by “taking an established industry at a certain stage and disrupting it using a sharing economy model”. The company was founded last year by drinks marketing expert Toby Chantrell and Ben Morgan-Smith, a digital industry veteran. They have been advised by Craft Beer Rising founders Daniel Rowntree and Chris Bayliss. The team has spent a year working with breweries and suppliers to build, test and bring the concept to market. Morgan-Smith said: “Seeing first-hand the challenge of bringing a new beer to market, we could see there was a real need for a solution providing increased levels of access and demystifying the process of creating a beer brand. Our huge brewing industry currently has no way to easily communicate and trade within itself. From giant brewers at the top to the small craft and entrepreneur brewers in their infancy, there is no one place to go to expand or make their brewing dreams come true.”

Birmingham-based online food-ordering firm Appetise has partnered with Bitpay to allow bitcoin payments for meals ordered on its platform. Appetise said payments would not be exposed to fluctuations in bitcoin’s value because service provider Bitpay allowed for immediate exchange into sterling at a cost of 1% of total order value. Last week, Appetise doubled the equity stake in its £500,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to scale up before expanding to “other key regions in the UK”. The company, which has Revolution Bars Group executive chairman Keith Edelman as its non-executive chairman, is now offering a 33.33% equity stake instead of the original 16.67% in return for the investment. So far, the campaign has raised £118,570 from 107 investors with eight days remaining. A company spokesman said: “Appetise is constantly looking for innovative ways to serve its customers and will continue to explore ways to take advantage of the revolutionary impact of blockchain technology, cryptocurrency and ICOs (initial coin offerings), particularly regarding its loyalty points scheme.”

Searcys has reported an 11% rise in bookings at its 30 Euston Square events space in central London. The grade II-listed conference centre in Euston also saw a 12.5% increase in direct corporate bookings in 2017 compared with the previous year. Of the 1,735 enquiries converted into events, about 35% were repeat bookings. The figures resulted in a 5% year-on-year revenue rise during its most successful year to date, the company said. 30 Euston Square general manager Yvette Chatwin said: “With a 25% increase in the number of Christmas parties, we finished 2017 on a real high. We wanted to grow our direct business focusing on optimising efficiency, client support and customer service. This strategy has clearly paid off and I am delighted it has been reflected across a host of metrics including revenue, number of events and footfall. For me, the most important statistic is the number of returning clients. Such a high rate of repeat business demonstrates clients want to return.”

US comfort food and cocktails brand Dirty Bones has launched a vegan concept in Shoreditch. Dirty Vegan will start with two initial sessions at Dirty Bones’ Shoreditch site on 5 and 12 March offering plant-inspired vegan twists on Dirty Bones’ signature dishes and a vegan drinks list. The menu will include cauliflower “chicken” with buckwheat waffles, mac ‘n’ cheese made with cashew and almond milk, and a vegan spin on Dirty Bones’ signature buffalo hot wings. The drinks list will feature a Dirty Viña Colada and a selection of vegan-friendly wine and beer. Dirty Bones founder and operations director Cokey Sulkin said: “There’s been a huge uptake in the demand for vegan and vegetarian options in London and we wanted to challenge ourselves to accommodate more of these tastes and preferences while staying true to what Dirty Bones does best. Comfort food will always be our focus and Dirty Vegan is our way of making sure anyone can indulge in it.” Dirty Bones operates four sites in London and one in Oxford.

Deliveroo has launched a global campaign as it looks to showcase the breadth of brands and cuisine available on its service. The Eat More Amazing campaign features traditional takeaway foods such as curry and pizza alongside more unconventional offerings including poké, sushi and healthier options. Deliveroo hopes this will be the start of a long-term proposition that will encourage people to “eat more amazing at every food occasion”. Emily Kraftman, UK and Ireland head of marketing, said: “We now have more than 15,000 UK partners that span more than 80 cuisine types. With Eat More Amazing we want to make sure the whole world knows Deliveroo is all about getting your favourite restaurant food delivered, when and where you want it.”

Tim HortonsTim Hortons, the Canadian cafe and bake shop owned by Restaurant Brands, has continued its rapid UK roll-out by opening a third site in Cardiff. The venue has opened in Albany Road. Kevin Hydes, chief finance and commercial officer of the Tim Hortons franchise in the UK, said: “Our two current Cardiff restaurants are proving exceptionally popular so it’s a great time to be announcing our continued expansion!” Earlier this week, Tim Hortons opened its seventh Scottish site, in Ayr. After making its UK debut in Glasgow in June last year, the brand has added three venues in the city with other Scottish sites in Hamilton and Dunfermline. Five sites are earmarked for the Manchester area, including the brand’s first UK drive-thru, which will take the company’s portfolio in the region to 15 sites as part of plans for up to 100 in total. Tim Hortons was founded in 1964 by its namesake, a professional ice hockey player who wanted to create a space where “everyone would feel at home”.

Stonegate Pub Company has ramped up refurbishments across its Slug and Lettuce estate with its Bath site reopening and the Isle of Wight and Derby venues to follow shortly. All three sites will feature new minimal decor and revamped outside seating areas, plus the addition of a cocktail masterclass station and new-look bar. A £350,000 investment at the Bath site in George Street has created 20 jobs, while the Slug and Lettuce in High Street, Newport, on the Isle of Wight, will reopen on Sunday (25 February) following an investment of more than £330,000. Meanwhile, the Slug and Lettuce in Irongate, Derby, will reopen on Sunday, 4 March following a £325,000 investment and the creation of 15 jobs. The venue will also launch a new payday weekend event that will take place on the first Friday and Saturday of every month. Louise Williams, general manager of Slug and Lettuce Derby, said: “Our-new look site is going to be something spectacular. With our extensive refurbishment we are excited to be giving something back to our key customers.” Stonegate Pub Company operates more than 690 pubs split into two divisions – Branded (Slug and Lettuce, Yates’s, Walkabout, Common Room and Venues) and Traditional (Proper Pubs, Town Pub & Kitchen, and Classic Inns).

Porterhouse has launched its new €6m brewery in DublinIndependently-owned Irish craft brewer Porterhouse Brewing Company has launched its €6m brewery in Dublin to keep up with rising demand in the UK and Europe. The brewery will eventually feature a visitors’ centre that will include an events space hosting live music, parties, street food markets and corporate functions. Founding partner Liam LaHart said: “It won’t be your typical brewery visitors’ centre which, to be honest, are more like museums. We want to create a bit of theatre, an immersive experience that is all about getting involved in the process and having fun.” Head brewer and director Peter Mosley added: “The increased brewing and storage capabilities will give us flexibility to produce and experiment further with flavour variation, and create limited edition and seasonal brews that will appeal to a wider audience of beer drinkers while still meeting the demand for our established beers.” Porterhouse was founded in response to the “bland and mass-produced beer from multinational companies that dominated the Irish market in the 1990s”. In 1996, it opened Ireland’s first brewpub, The Porterhouse in Temple Bar, and in 2017 Porterhouse Brewing Company launched as a brand internationally.

Ladies of Restaurants is collaborating with Old Spitalfields Market on International Women’s Day to offer insights into women’s achievements in the workplace. Focusing on the hospitality and retail industry, the free event on Thursday, 8 March will feature a day of talks from a series of inspirational women. According to a recent PwC report on women in hospitality, travel and leisure, progress on gender diversity in pub and restaurant businesses has trailed other hospitality sectors. Ladies of Restaurants founders Libby Andrews (Pho) and Natalia Ribbe (Eighty Six List) will lead the talks alongside a panel of women from businesses in Old Spitalfields Market and beyond, including Tonkotsu owner Emma Reynolds, Climpson & Sons managing director Nicole Ferris and Bleecker Burger founder Zan Kaufman. Ribbe said: “Women are often the ultimate plate-spinners – running the household, the job, the family and everything else in between. We have a tendency to push ourselves to the limit and compare ourselves to others. This is not always healthy. I want to show how success is something different for everyone and look at the importance of perception and self-love when we measure success.” Spaces at each talk are limited to 30.

Brewer and retailer Greene King has partnered with Glasgow-based operator Kained Holdings for its second joint venture. The partnership will see a six-figure investment by Greene King at the former Drouthy Neebors pub in St Andrews that will lead to the unveiling of a new gin distillery and 60-cover restaurant. Kained Holdings already runs three bars with Greene King – Lebowskis in Edinburgh and Lebowskis in Glasgow Southside, as well as The Crafty Pig in Glasgow. Its portfolio also includes a number of other bars and restaurants, including Glasgow’s Porter & Rye and The Finnieston. This latest venture sees Greene King Pub Partners bring a major capital investment to the table and in combination with the team at Kained Holdings promises to deliver an “entirely new product for sale in the on-trade market”. The distillery will produce a classic-style London dry gin, with a focus on clean, crisp refreshment. The name of the new brand will be released ahead of the pub’s planned relaunch in late March but the joint-venture concept means the new gin brand will be produced jointly by Greene King and Kained Holdings. Greene King Pub Partners managing director John Forrest said: “This is a project that we’ve been extremely excited about for some time and it’s fantastic to be able to let everyone know about our second joint venture. We’re delighted to be working with Kained Holdings. It’s recognised across the industry as one of Scotland’s leading multiple operators and right from the start we’ve shared a joint vision for the exciting places where this project could lead. The concept of the joint venture is about creativity and trying something new, with Greene King bringing its big business expertise to the exciting visions of innovative entrepreneurs. The aim is to create something new, fresh and innovative that develops new avenues for tenanted and leased businesses and explores the potential for pubs of the future.” Graham Suttle, managing director of Kained Holdings, added: “We are all delighted to be moving forward in an exciting new partnership with Greene King. The core values at Kained centre around innovation and development, which this project is a direct reflection of. People sometimes forget Kained is just three guys with tonnes of passion for real food and drink, who are blessed with a totally awesome team of people. This announcement is the culmination of all those people’s work, and I’m proud to be part of it. It’s this shared passion to deliver things that are new and exciting that really kick-started this project, with both companies engaged and driven to deliver something unique and not done before. St Andrews is a really cool place, with a thriving hospitality scene and lots of great talent on show. We are very excited to join the ranks and bring our own touches to the town’s eating and drinking circuit.” Greene King launched its first joint venture last year at the Butcher’s Tap in Marlow in partnership with Tom Kerridge.

More than 160 sector companies have booked to attend the first Propel Multi Club Conference of 2018. The full-day event takes place on Wednesday, 7 March at the Grange Hotel in St Paul’s, London. Multi-site operators of pubs, restaurants and foodservice outlets can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele at Speakers include Tim Barrett, travel and leisure analyst at Numis; Ian Edward, who is leisure advisor to Canaccord Genuity and sits on the boards of Brasserie Blanc; Seafood Pub Company and Hippo Inns; Jon Collins, former chief executive of CGA Group, who has returned to the UK after living in Chicago for two years; Sarah Bridge, former Mail on Sunday leisure correspondent and founder of the hospitality website; Iqbal Wahhab, founder of Cinnamon Club and Roast; Max Hilton Jenvey, global head of franchise for Chopstix; Alex Salussolia, managing director of Glendola Leisure; Paul Wells, chairman of Charles Wells; Bob Ivell, chairman of Mitchells & Butlers; Nick Taplin, chief executive of Black and White Hospitality; and Yasha Estraikh, of Piper.

Propel is staging its fourth Craft Beer Retail Study Tour on Thursday, 22 March in London, this time exploring the burgeoning beer scene in Bermondsey and Brixton. The tour, led by Thinking Drinkers, award-winning beer writers Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham, will visit eight venues during the day-long tour, including leading craft beer retailers, a cider specialist and a street food market that features its own brewery. McFarland and Sandham will provide the latest craft beer facts and figures, market segmentation analysis, and spot up-and-coming trends, while CGA commercial director Graeme Loudon will give further insights. Site visits will include question-and-answer sessions with some of London’s leading retailers looking at award-winning sites, beer-centric retail, beer sourcing, direct sourcing, menus, brewing on-site, and a host of other issues. The day includes travel between venues by coach where appropriate. Tickets are £345 plus VAT for Propel Premium members and £395 plus VAT for non-Propel Premium members. To book, email

Operators have the chance to give their thoughts and experiences on food delivery and the effect it has on their business in a new survey. Propel has partnered with Piper, investors in fast-growing consumer brands, to conduct the survey. It should take no more than ten minutes to complete and participants will be sent a copy of the research. All individual responses are confidential and data will only be viewed in an anonymous, non-attributable and aggregated way. Neither Piper nor Propel are compensated by any company to conduct the survey and will not sell individual responses or pass them to third parties.To take part in the survey, click here. The findings will be presented by Yasha Estraikh, of Piper, at the next Propel Multi Club Conference. The full-day event takes place on Wednesday, 7 March at the Grange Hotel in St Paul’s, London. Multi-site operators of pubs, restaurants and foodservice outlets can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele at

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David Bruce, NITAs 2007

National Innovation in Training Awards

21st November 2017

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