Star Pubs & Bars

Story of the Day:

Boston Tea Party becomes first coffee chain to ban disposable cups, owner admits move is ‘huge risk’ as £1m in sales under threat

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

The Restaurant Group boss receives remuneration of more than £1.1m in first full year

The Restaurant Group chief executive Andy McCue received total remuneration of more than £1.1m during his first full year, including a bonus of almost £400,000, the company’s annual report has revealed. McCue, who was appointed in September 2016, was paid a total of £1,116,000 for the year ending 31 December 2017. This consisted of £505,000 salary, £113,000 in taxable benefits, £101,000 pension and £397,000 annual bonus. The annual bonus was based on adjusted profit before tax performance, guest satisfaction improvement targets and a like-for-like covers improvement target. The total bonus amounted to 78.5% of salary, which is 52% of the potential bonus. Half the payment will be deferred for three years and paid as shares. McCue’s salary was increased 2.08% on 1 January 2018 to £515,500, while the average increase for managerial employees across the group was 2.2%. Meanwhile, Kirk Davis joined the company as chief financial officer on 5 February this year on a salary of £355,000. The Restaurant Group has also outlined proposals to rectify administrative errors regarding the level of distributable reserves and payment of interim and final dividends to shareholders during the period from 2006 to 2017. The resolution will be put to shareholders at a general meeting on Wednesday, 23 May. The company stated: “The background to this matter was set out in the final results announcement on 7 March 2018. The issue is of a historical nature and there is no change to the financial outlook of the company and no past accounts will need to be restated. No fines or other penalties have been incurred by the company. There is no impact on the final dividend proposed for approval by shareholders at the annual general meeting.”

Other News:

PrezzoPrezzo chief executive Jon Hendry Pickup is to leave the company after steering it through a restructuring that will result in the closure of almost 100 outlets. Hendry Pickup, who joined the group less than two years ago, is handing the reins to Karen Jones, the former chief executive of Spirit Group, and a co-founder of Café Rouge, after a transition period. Jones, who chairs Food & Fuel, a group of gastro-pubs and cafe-bars in London, will assume the role of executive chairwoman. Jones, who is also chairwoman of Hawksmoor and Mowgli, will take full responsibility for the Prezzo brand, its strategic direction and the execution of the transformation plan alongside Prezzo’s existing management. Jones said: “I am very much looking forward to building on Prezzo’s 18-year heritage to create a group of welcoming Italian restaurants that customers love for their unwavering hospitality and their consistent combination of price, quality and service. Under the stewardship of Jon and the rest of the leadership team, important steps have already been taken to move Prezzo forward. There is now a reshaped estate of excellent sites filled with skilful people ready to create something compelling together. I look forward to working with Jon over the next two months and building upon the progress made to date.” Hendry Pickup added: “Prezzo is in extremely capable hands with Karen and I look forward to watching Prezzo flourish, as I know it will.” Like Prezzo, Spirit was backed by TPG, the American private equity firm, although there has been speculation recently that Carlyle Group, which holds more than a third of Prezzo’s senior debt, may seek to seize control from TPG via a debt-for-equity swap. Prezzo was founded and floated by the Kaye family and taken private by TPG in January 2015 in a deal valuing the business at £304m. After the buyout, the group expanded from about 250 restaurants to 300, revamped its Prezzo brand and launched a third brand, Mexico. At its peak it had 300 restaurants but its growth ambitions were dealt a blow by sustained pressure from rising staff costs and lower footfall, as well as higher ingredient costs because of the fall in the value of the pound after the Brexit vote. In March, the company won approval from its landlords to close 94 outlets via a Company Voluntary Arrangement with its creditors, putting 500 jobs at risk. The closures, which are due to be completed by next month, include all 33 Chimichanga Tex-Mex restaurants and three opened recently under its fledgling Mexico brand.

Adnams, the Suffolk brewer, distiller and retailer, has reported it expects its half-year results to be down on 2017 on the back of trading conditions and investment costs. The company stated at its annual general meeting: “Adnams’ focus in the first quarter of 2018 has been on bedding in the major investments we made in 2017 and completing the investment we have been making in a dealcoholisation plant. The new computer systems project will continue throughout most of 2018. Our most notable 2017 investment was in transforming the Swan Hotel, where reviews have been very positive, and we look forward to building a strong and successful business. We also completed the £7m three-year project in our brewery, which has extended capacity and is providing us with beer-conditioning, filtration, enhanced cooling and an automated kegging line. This equips us well for the changing beer market and the growth in demand for kegs, bottles and cans. In the first quarter of 2018 we have continued to grow our beer volumes and these were towards 5% higher than in the first quarter of 2017. Spirits volumes were up by approaching 30%. Although we are pleased with these growth rates, they are a little slower than we have seen in many recent periods and this reflects what has been quite a challenging quarter for some parts of the business. The poor weather we saw in March was a particular challenge for our pub and managed inns business. We have focused on our cost base in this quarter and initiated some important savings, although these will mainly affect periods beyond the first half-year. We are expecting a first-half result behind 2017 on the back of the less good trading conditions and the costs of completing our investments in the brewery and in implementing new central systems. As we have grown the retail side of our business, notably hotels, shops and managed inns, our profit has shifted towards the second half of the year and we anticipate a stronger second half to 2018.”

Brasserie Bar Co director of people Hannah MelvinBrasserie Bar Co, the business behind Brasserie Blanc and The White Brasserie pubs, has made two senior appointments. Helen Melvin (pictured), who has been with the brand for more than six years, moves from finance director to the newly created role of director of people. Melvin brings a wealth of brand experience and knowledge to her new role and will be responsible for the teams covering HR, recruitment, and learning and development. Melvin has successfully guided the business through a strong period of expansion, seeing the Brasserie Blanc brand grow to 19 sites as well as the founding and growth of The White Brasserie to an estate of 17 pubs. She recently led the team to secure £20m refinancing from OakNorth Bank to enable the continued development of both brands. Melvin’s successor, Chris Guy, formerly with Loungers and prior to that Casual Dining Group, will join the business at the end of the month as finance director. Guy has a strong track record in creating significant value in private equity-backed businesses and will bring valuable multi-site hospitality and in-depth operational experience to the role, Brasserie Bar Co stated. Chief executive Mark Derry said: “The people and teams within our business are of paramount importance to us as we continue to grow. Helen has always had one eye on the people side of our business. This experience, together with the strategic approach she has always demonstrated in her current role, makes her the ideal choice to head up our people function. Chris’ wealth of experience in managing the finances within growing, multi-unit businesses will be invaluable as the brands continue to expand. We are delighted to have him on board.”

The Propel summer conference and party on Thursday, 5 July at The Oxford Belfry is open for bookings. This year we have the usual great conference followed by crazy golf at Junkyard Golf in Oxford, plus a barbecue and live band karaoke back at the hotel. Matthew Kirby, chief executive of Chozen Noodle, will talk about expanding the brand and its sub-brand Chow Asian kitchen in different formats, the challenges and opportunities of trading in motorway service stations, the retail landscape, and future plans.. Operators can claim up to two free places by emailing or calling her on 01444 817691.

KFCKFC has partnered with technology company Flyt, originally known as Flypay, to enhance delivery in the UK and Ireland. Flyt will be the first integration platform for KFC in enabling home food delivery by third-party providers. Delivery orders will be entered directly into the KFC EPOS and kitchen via the Flyt platform. KFC UK & Ireland chief information officer Brad Scheiner said: “We are constantly in search of real innovation that allows us to increase efficiencies and further improve the service we provide to our customers. We chose Flyt as an integration partner for delivery to help us achieve exactly that. Now, orders placed through Just Eat will be processed through the Flyt platform, allowing seamless menu sync and order placement into our EPOS system and kitchen. For our customers, they continue to place their orders through their preferred delivery provider. However, they will reap the benefits of improved accuracy and speed in the delivery experience. We have more than 900 restaurants in the UK and Ireland and plan to expand our delivery service over the coming year.” Flyt chief executive Tom Weaver added: “KFC is at the top of its game when it comes to technology, which comes as no surprise given its intense desire to go above and beyond the expectations of its customers and deliver a faster, better service. The integration of our Flyt platform was a natural progression for KFC, and we look forward to pushing the boundaries together through digital innovation.”

Revolution Bars Group acquisition and estates manager Nick ClarkeRevolution Bars Group, operator of 73 premium bars trading under the Revolution and Revolución de Cuba brands, has appointed Nick Clarke (pictured) as acquisition and estates manager. Clarke joins the company from private equity-backed restaurant group Bistrot Pierre, where he held the position of property director for a year. Prior to that, Clarke was head of property at Casual Dining Group-owned Las Iguanas for five years. Clarke will be involved in all aspects of the company’s property strategy, including acquisitions, construction, estate management, maintenance and facilities. Revolution Bars Group remains on course to open six sites this year for its brands. A Revolución de Cuba has just opened in Birmingham with another set for Newcastle in June. Group property director Godfrey Russell said: “I am delighted to welcome Nick to the team. He not only brings with him bags of experience in the sector but has a proven track record of developing successful pipelines.” Clarke added: “The company has a reputation for forward thinking and I welcome the opportunity to work with it to help support the next level of growth for the business and be part of its continued success.”

Hospitality businesses led the way for independent site openings in Great Britain in 2017, according to the latest report by The Local Data Company (LDC) and British Independent Retailers Association. The number of restaurants and bars rose by 172 sites compared with 2016, a net increase of 6.48%. However, there was a net fall in the number of Indian restaurants, with 136 fewer sites last year (minus 2.87%). Bars alone increased by 110 sites (2.86%), while the number of pubs was down 281 venues compared with 2016 (minus 2.87%). Another key growth sector, however, was cafes and tea rooms, with a net increase of 324 sites compared with 2016, a 2.04% rise. Overall, the number of independent leisure sites, a category that includes restaurants and cafes, rose 0.15% in 2017 compared with the previous year, a net increase of 132 units. The independent convenience stores category, which includes bakers, butchers, food shops and supermarkets, saw a net decrease of 266 units (minus 0.88%) in 2017. Across all categories covered by the report, the only regions to register an increase in sites were West Midlands (up 230 sites, 1.01%) and the north west, which ended 2017 with one more site than the previous year. The region with the largest fall was Yorkshire and the Humber, which had 460 fewer sites (minus 1.58%), while Greater London was also down 374 units (minus 0.54%). The town with the greatest percentage of independents (more than 50 sites) was London’s Portobello (95%), while Telford was the lowest (19%). Retail parks saw a net increase of 44 units in 2017 (7.26%), while high streets saw a decrease of 476 units (minus 0.28%), and shopping centres saw a fall of 88 units (minus 1.07%). LDC relationship manager Chris Fowler said: “The need for customisation and providing a personal service will continue to fuel the openings of independents on our high streets but the threat of closure remains high due to the marginal nature of some businesses. Yet there is evidence in the historic LDC data to suggest once an independent retailer has survived the first three years, they are more resilient and more likely to survive than the multiples in our large towns.” Independents account for 65% of all retail and leisure units in Great Britain, the same as in 2016.

The team behind events space The Brewery is to open a second City of London site, at the former home of Whitbread. The Grubstreet Author will open in Milton Street, Moorgate, consisting of three spaces. The Cutting Room will be a 48-capacity cinema, while The Sample Room will be a reception area for up to 70 people and feature a metallic bar, herringbone floor and luxurious furnishings. The Pasteur Room will be a 70-cover private dining space that can be combined with The Sample Room for larger events. The venue will occupy a derelict part of the original Whitbread brewery and host meetings, private dinners and product launches. Milton Street was previously known as Grub Street, a bohemian area known for its publishing houses, poets and “hack writers” in the 18th century. The Brewery creative director Simon Lockwood said: “We’ve seen strong demand for more intimate events with a higher personalisation and exclusivity and have endeavoured to give clients the opportunity to combine luxurious dining and furnishings with the functionality for corporate presentations.” The Brewery in Chiswell Street offers eight events spaces.

Papa John's franchisees Parry Singh and Tony Kalsi outside their new site in Elm park, east London, with staffPapa John’s franchisees Parry Singh and Tony Kalsi have opened their fourth site, in Elm Park, east London, and plan further expansion. They have opened the site in Tadworth Parade. Singh said: “The area has a mixed demographic with many families and students. We have been busy since opening and have further promotions planned to grow our valued customer base. Including Elm Park, we now employ about 70 people and have plans to expand further. I am responsible for operations, which includes running the stores on a day-to-day basis, and Tony manages the marketing and business promotion.” Papa John’s was founded in the US in 1984 and operates more than 350 stores across the UK and over 5,000 stores in more than 40 international markets and territories.

New speciality coffee shop Kiss the Hippo has revealed further details as it prepares to open its debut site, in Richmond, south west London. The company will open the outlet in George Street offering the “highest quality, most sustainably produced coffee”. The team will use the Loring S15 Falcon, which is the “most advanced and environmentally friendly coffee-roasting machine available”, to roast organically sourced beans from around the world. The food will be made fresh on-site daily using natural, organic and responsibly sourced ingredients, supplied mainly by local farmers. Environmental responsibility will be at the heart of Kiss the Hippo, with 100% compostable cups, straws, lids and cutlery. Kiss the Hippo will also offer coffee workshops.

DeliverooDeliveroo has launched a support scheme to help its restaurant partners cut everyday business expenses. The scheme will help restaurants cut energy bills and recruitment costs, while a new online portal will offer benefits and discounts to staff. Offers available to 10,000 of Deliveroo’s restaurant partners include up to 5% off negotiated green energy bills and waived broker fees, up to 28% discount on job boards, preferential rates for specialist recruitment firms, up to 10% off printing services, and discounts on Wi-Fi and business rate reviews. Exclusive restaurant partners will gain access to the staff benefits portal, with employees able to save between £300 and £500 a year through items such as cinema tickets, meals out, travel, gyms and high-street brands. Restaurants will also receive up to 25% off training courses in areas such as food safety, supplier management and nutrition. The site and staff discounts are available to all Deliveroo’s restaurant partners with some perks only available or at a better rate for restaurants that exclusively partner with the delivery firm. Deliveroo UK managing director Dan Warne said: “We have been working with restaurants to understand what would help their businesses and we are proud to announce a package of support that will cut their day-to-day costs, meaning they can focus on what matters – producing amazing food.” As part of the scheme, Deliveroo has partnered with Vauxhall-based temporary staffing platform Staff Heroes. Deliveroo’s restaurant partners will now be able to book additional staff at short notice directly on their tablet, through the integration with Staff Heroes. Deliveroo head of Partnerships Lila Benatoff said: “Deliveroo is committed to helping our restaurant partners manage their demand and overcoming any staffing challenges they may have. By partnering with Staff Heroes, we hope to further this goal by providing easy access to thousands of skilled Hospitality workers on-demand.” Staff Heroes chief executive Laurent Gibb added: “Deliveroo is a fast-growing, forward-thinking company that is leading the way in identifying partnerships that will better serve its customers while effectively managing its growth. We are excited to work closely with it and its restaurant customers.”

Levi Roots celebrating 10 years of Reggae ReggaeLevi Roots Caribbean Smokehouse has signed with EPOS-linked guest feedback service Feed It Back to gain menu insights, communicate with guests and manage social reviews. Feed It Back’s platform presents guests with personalised questions based on their menu choices and dining experience. It also enables operators to monitor and analyse social reviews and communicate with guests. Levi Roots Caribbean Smokehouse head of operations Rebecca Light said: “We will shortly launch an exciting new menu offering traditional Caribbean dishes but with Levi’s own twist. After evaluating several solutions, we feel Feed It Back is best equipped to help us ensure our guests love our new dishes as much as we do!” Feed It Back chief executive Carlo Platia added: “A number of fast-growing restaurant brands have selected us to help them on their journey and we are proud to welcome Levi Roots Caribbean Smokehouse.” Roots opened his venue at Westfield Stratford City, east London, in late 2015 after an appearance on television series Dragons’ Den in 2007 propelled his Reggae Reggae Sauce business to an annual turnover of £30m within eight years.

Ei Group, Mitchells & Butlers and Asahi UK are the latest companies to join Best Bar None, the Home Office-supported community safety programme operated by pubs and bars in the UK. The companies join fellow sponsors JD Wetherspoon, Stonegate Pub Company, Diageo, Heineken and Pernod Ricard. Best Bar None national co-ordinator Mick McDonnell said: “With active programmes across 70 towns and cities, clear evidence is emerging that where a Best Bar None scheme is in existence it contributes to a reduction in alcohol-related disorder and provides a boost to the town’s daytime and night-time economy.”

Restaurateurs Mark Bloom and Barry Myers will launch a new sharing concept next month in Victoria Park Village, east London. Bloom and Myers will open Fayre Share in Victoria Park Road on Monday, 14 May, with the aim to “turn the typical dining experience on its head”. Fayre Share will be designed to have the feel of a home, with features including a covered garden, fireplace and kitchen island. Diners will be able to share classic British dishes such as roasted beer chicken, while the menu will also pay homage to the British pie, with a shepherd’s pie, a leek and mushroom pie, and an interchanging pie of the day. All dishes will available for one, two or four people, while drinks will include wine, cocktails, gin and tonic served in teapots for sharing, local beer and soft drinks. Fayre Share will also offer coffee, tea and cakes in a “lounge” at the front of the restaurant. Bloom said: “Our team grew up sharing meals with friends and family. We didn’t just share the time – meals were about sharing our food and drink with each other too. We believe this experience is such an important part of life but we also understand the pace of the modern world can get in the way of these moments. We wanted to provide friends and families with an opportunity to share not only meals but all the flavours of our classic British cooking.”

Drake & Morgan is offering customers at The Parlour in Canary wharf coffee for £1 when they bring their own cupDrake & Morgan, the London-based bar and restaurant group backed by Bowmark Capital, is offering takeaway coffees for £1 at its Canary Wharf site The Parlour to customers who bring their own cup. The Parlour’s London Calling blend usually starts at £2.35 per cup for takeaway flat whites, espressos and lattes. The move comes as part of Drake & Morgan’s ongoing commitment to reduce waste and promote sustainability, and follows the removal of plastic straws from all the group’s 22 sites in London, Manchester and Edinburgh.

On-demand staffing platform Catapult has launched in BirminghamOn-demand staffing platform Catapult, which services hospitality, catering and events companies in London and Manchester, has expanded into Birmingham. Co-founder Oli Johnson said the shifting priorities of workers in part-time roles had led to an increase in demand for flexible rotas in the sector. He added: “People need flexibility from their part-time jobs. They also want variety, which we can offer them. It’s great to now be able to give businesses in Birmingham a chance to do that too.” Johnson founded Catapult with Steffen Wulff Petersen and Ben Dixon in 2015. The business secured seed investment from Global Founders Capital and a group of high-net-worth investors including Goldman Sachs partner Anthony Gutman. An additional raise in December 2017 took total investment in Catapult to £6m. Johnson said the business had enjoyed strong and continuous performance since its launch, with more than 20% month-on-month growth across shifts, revenue and margins. Last year, Catapult billed in excess of 500,000 hours. The company provides businesses looking for flexible shift workers with a choice of candidates via an app and online booking system. Candidates can choose which shifts they work.

UKHospitality has appointed Jim Cathcart as director of policy and regulation. Cathcart has joined from the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), where he worked for ten years as a senior policy advisor and policy manager specialising in a wide range of subjects including licensing, planning and copyright. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Jim brings with him a wealth of expertise and experience of working on policy for hospitality businesses. Jim is widely regarded as one of the most knowledgeable individuals in the sector and his appointment will be a fantastic asset to UKHospitality. The appointment will further enhance our capabilities as a powerful, effective advocate for the UK’s incredibly important pub sector while strengthening our position as the voice for the entire hospitality sector.” Cathcart added: “A decade at the BBPA has equipped me well for the challenges of my new role. It has been a pleasure to work with a talented team of professionals, from whom I have learned so much. I am embarking on a new chapter of my career with enthusiasm and excitement. I look forward to applying my areas of expertise for the benefit of UKHospitality members, as well as developing my knowledge and experience of the wider sector it represents.”

Camden Town Brewery has launched its largest marketing campaign with Hello HellsCamden Town Brewery has made the largest marketing investment in its eight-year history with its “Hello Hells” campaign designed to reignite the UK’s love for lager. The campaign, which celebrates that moment of joy following the first sip of lager after a long day, spans out-of-home, press, digital, social and cinema. The nationwide campaign is woven together by six Camden characters, created and animated by Stevie Gee, to “illustrate the joy of clapping eyes on a pint of Camden Hells”. Camden Town Brewery founder Jasper Cuppaidge said: “When developing the campaign, we spoke to consumers and noticed a real lack of passion for lager. People were drinking it in their millions but the excitement had gone so we decided to heavily invest in a campaign to remind people of everything they love about cold, refreshing, full-flavoured lager.” The out-of-home campaign will focus not only on London but Leeds and Manchester, where the brewery has established a dedicated northern beer team to meet a growing demand for Camden lager. “Hello Hells” will continue to roll out across the summer through trade, PR and experiential and across Camden’s two London breweries.

Wadworth apprentices Callum Stanley, Amanda Blackman, Jake Moore and Violetta Nagy with Wadworth retail development manager for the Pheasant John Pettit (far left) and Pheasant manager Richard Jennings (right)Brewer and retailer Wadworth has seen four apprentices qualify from a single pub. The Pheasant in Chippenham, Wiltshire, has seen Amanda Blackman achieve her Level 3 diploma in licensed hospitality skills and Violetta Nagy her BTEC Level 2 in hospitality and catering principles (kitchen services). Meanwhile, Jake Moore and Callum Stanley have both gained Level 2 NVQ diplomas in professional cookery. Manager Richard Jennings said: “I now potentially have two head chefs and, eventually, my replacement. Our succession plans continue with our next Level 3 candidate poised to start her apprenticeship soon.” Wadworth retail development manager John Pettit added: “I’m really proud of the pub team having four apprentices at one pub. It is a credible example of investment in people and their development. By looking after your team, you will reap the rewards through their loyalty.” Wadworth currently has 19 apprentices in its managed pubs.

Giving consumers a truly memorable experience is vital in today’s competitive eating and drinking out sector, according to the latest GO Technology research by Zonal and CGA, while brand apathy could lead to “operational suicide”. For those who give feedback, more than three-quarters (78%) do so after their visit, with 63% leaving it up to 48 hours, which means leaving a lasting impression is important. For almost two-thirds (65%), a discount or getting something free on their next visit are key incentives to driving feedback. However on receiving a negative experience, 19% of people will never return, with men being the most unforgiving. Almost two-thirds (64%) of women are most likely to expect compensation after a bad experience. Handled well, a complaint voucher redemption offer is effective with more than half (52%) of vouchers issued as the result of a complaint redeemed, according to Feed It Back. Regionally, customers in the south west (45%) are most likely to expect a refund after a poor experience, with Scots least likely (32%). Zonal sales and marketing director Clive Consterdine said: “Delivering an average experience isn’t good enough. Although brand apathy might be the hardest experiential problem to address, it can lead to operational suicide. Our desires as consumers are constantly evolving. For hospitality businesses to keep up they need regular feedback to maintain a consistent stream of growth.” Despite feedback being a key part of our dining out experience, with social media the major platform for almost two-thirds (64%) to read or write reviews and TripAdvisor the most popular site (37%), more than half (59%) of respondents have never submitted feedback to a bar, pub or restaurant. CGA retail and food director Karl Chessell said: “To engage this group, offering some form of discount on their next visit would encourage 40% to leave feedback if available or were they made aware of the opportunity. Failure to actively engage with customers and take action as a result of the feedback they provide leaves brands open to competitor incursion and declining footfall.”

Hollywood Bowl Group, the UK’s largest tenpin bowling operator, has continued its investment programme with the £400,000 rebrand and refurbishment of a former Bowlplex site in Fife Leisure Park, Dunfermline. It is the group’s second refurbishment of 2018. Chief executive Steve Burns said: “Our investment programme has had a great start to the year with our newly refurbished centre in Birmingham seeing an increase in trade and our new centre in Yeovil seeing strong trade since opening last month. Both centres have received positive customer feedback and we’re expecting Dunfermline to follow the trend. The rest of the year will see further refurbishments and new centres open around the UK.” Earlier this month, the company reported like-for-like sales up 4.0% for the six months ended 31 March 2018 with revenue up 9.3%. The company stated: “This continued strong like-for-like performance has been driven by the ongoing successful execution of our organic growth strategy of investment in enhancing our customer experience.” The company operates almost 60 sites across the UK.

Lincoln & York - BlackeyeCoffee sourcing, roasting and packaging specialist Lincoln & York has launched a cold brew coffee. The company has developed Black Eye Cold Brew, a crafted blend of Arabica beans from Guatemala, Brazil and Colombia, with a 14-hour brewing time that doesn’t come into contact with hot water. It is supplied in a ten-litre “bag-in-box” containing 30 to 40 servings and has a shelf life of up to nine months. The brand takes the effect of a cool, playful dog character to capture the hipster coffee consumer, with the strapline “the bark side of coffee”. Lincoln & York managing director James Sweeting said: “We know the market is shifting as consumers are looking for a healthier, more accessible and alternative option to the traditional coffee market we’ve seen grow for the past ten years. We feel we’ve created a product and brand that can cater for this shift in consumer habits and provide our customers with a new offering that will capture the consumer trend and remain relatable to the modern coffee drinker.”

Rod McKie will step down from his role as chief executive of Welcome Break at the end of May 2018 to take up a new position as worldwide chief executive officer of restaurant group Sticks ’n’ Sushi in July, whilst also retaining a non-executive director role at Welcome Break with effect from June 2018. McKie said: “I have enjoyed a wonderful 15 years at Welcome Break, but feel now is the right time to accept a new challenge. However, I will still be directly involved with Welcome Break as an adviser and non-executive director and look forward to contributing to its continued success. During the past 13 years as chief executive I have been proud to lead a management team that together with the strong support of our shareholders, has been responsible for the biggest overhaul of the company since it was founded in 1959. In particular, the business has been fully transformed into the first fully branded motorway service operator, with more than 14 brand partners. During this time, the business has enjoyed ten years of consecutive top line and bottom line growth. With the strong commitment of our shareholders, we have invested in excess of £150m over the last ten years in upgrading the business and offering our guests the best facilities on the motorway network. Among the innovations have been the introduction of Starbucks stores and pioneering the drive-thru phenomenon which means Starbucks has become a mainstay part of the business. Waitrose supermarkets and standalone restaurants such as PizzaExpress have also joined the Welcome Break family of brands. The EV charging revolution has been embraced, first with Ecotricity who are the world’s first electric highway and latterly via partnership with Tesla. Welcome Break has also heavily invested in the Ramada hotel brand and innovative kiosk technology as well as pioneering healthy food on the motorways via Tossed. The company is in an excellent financial position and well placed to build on its success in the years to come, and I look forward to playing my part in Welcome Break’s future success.” Welcome Break chairman Darren Kyte added: “I would like to thank Rod for all his hard work and dedication over the years, which has contributed hugely to the success of Welcome Break over the past 15 years. On behalf of the board and the shareholders, I wish Rod every success with his new endeavours, and we are very pleased that he will be staying with the business in a new non-executive role. As part of a management transition, Robbie Bell (currently chief financial officer) has been appointed chief executive designate with effect from June 2018. Further appointments to the senior team are also currently being finalised, also to allow Robbie’s timely succession. We are very confident that the evolution of the senior management team will enable us to build on the considerable development of the business achieved in the past ten years and bring continued success for the company.”

A group of restaurant leaders and food lovers, including former Vapiano executive board member Mario C Bauer and Sticks ‘n’ Sushi UK boss Andreas Karlsson, are set to launch an artisan organic ketchup under resurrected heritage brand Curtice Brothers. Curtice Brothers Ketchup will launch at London BBQ Feast, together with the world famous butcher and Bistecca Fiorentina icon Dario Cecchini from Tuscany, which is being held at D&D London’s iconic Bluebird restaurant in Chelsea on Tuesday, 15 May. Send an email to to get on the limited guest list. Bauer opened 200 Vapiano sites in 34 countries. During his travels he failed to find a ketchup outside mainstream brands. Together with five other restaurateurs – the “brotherhood” – he created a new organic ketchup recipe that contains 77% tomatoes. Bauer plans to initially focus on hotels, catering companies and restaurants in the UK, Germany, Austria and Spain where Curtice Brothers just signed a joint venture with BidFoods. The “Brothers” have invested about €750,000 so far, with current production volumes at 800,000 piccolos, as they call the 70g glass bottles. Bauer said the venture had received support from renowned figures in the industry such as restaurateur Rainer Becker (founder of Zuma, Roka, Oblix) and Pret A Manger chief executive Clive Schlee as well as Henry McGovern, founder and chief executive of AmRest. Bauer said: “Wherever you go you will be served the same ketchup. That was my wake-up call. We are not the Curtice Brothers, neither do we seek to replicate the original flavour because we don’t know the old recipes. What we are doing is attending to this legacy and melding it with our own philosophy – la dolce vita in a bottle. Our ketchup is 100% organic, cooked in Tuscany and contains 50% less sugar and salt than the average ketchup.” Brothers Simeon and Edgar Curtice founded the brand in 1868 in Rochester, New York, but the name was abandoned in the 1940s.

First Restaurant Group has added to its Pubs & Rooms portfolioLondon-based First Restaurant Group, a growing collection of British pubs with boutique rooms and restaurants, has added 11 bedrooms to its recently acquired pub The Grafton Arms in Fitzrovia. The Grafton Arms is the third property, and the first in the West End, under First Restaurant Group’s Pub & Rooms portfolio. The opening of The Grafton Arms and installation of 11 bedrooms is part of the group’s expansion strategy, which will see it double its estate of pubs with rooms by 2020. The property is spread across four floors with a 40-cover ground-floor pub, a 20-cover terrace and 11 new boutique bedrooms. The pub serves a pan-Asian menu with dishes including crispy softshell crab, pan-fried sea bass with baby choy sum, and steamed pork bao buns. Drinks feature premium beer and cider as well as a number of guest ales, wine and cocktails. Managing director and co-founder Mitch Tillman, said: “We are proud to unveil our new bedrooms and are confident The Grafton Arms will enjoy the same high occupancy rates as our sister properties. The Pub & Rooms ethos is to deliver the quality of service and contemporary decor you’d expect from a top hotel, with the laid-back style and affordability of a pub.” First Restaurant Group owns five venues – canal-side restaurants The Waterway and The Summerhouse in Maida Vale, and its three Pub & Rooms sites The One Tun in Farringdon, The Clerk & Well in Clerkenwell and The Grafton Arms.

Wine and beer maker Chapel Down has reported year on year sales up 15% to £11.796m (2016: £10.233m) in the year to 31 December 2017. Chapel Down Wine sales were up 20% to £8.119m (2016: £6.791m). Beer and cider sales, in the associate company Curious Drinks Ltd, up 7% to £3.677m (2016: £3.442m).Continuing Ebitda rose 29% to £968k (2016: £750k) as is continues ‘to reinvest in our brands, infrastructure and supply’. Chairman John Dunsmore stated: “Your company continued to build its most important assets – its brands – through innovative and well executed marketing, high profile sponsorships and publicity and a differentiated and creative approach to all our activities. The new injection of £20m combined with the further enhancement of an outstanding management team is a measure of our intent. There is much to be done. We will be making substantial investments over the coming years in vineyards, the brewery, commercial infrastructure, people and marketing to ensure that we are best placed for future growth and any industry consolidation. Our assets are supportive of the business: land – and high quality vined land in particular – continues to appreciate; our brand assets are more valuable than ever; and our balance sheet is extremely strong. We enjoy the custom and support of our many shareholders who tell the Chapel Down story with energy and enthusiasm. Thank you for your faith, your continued encouragement and your enthusiastic support.”

There is a divide between what consumers want from a place to eat and what the industry thinks they want, according to a new survey by ordering-technology provider Preoday. The survey found more than half (54%) of bar, pub and restaurant professionals believe consumers are looking for a unique experience. However, fewer than one-quarter (21%) of consumers factor it into their choice of eatery and only 2% see it as the most important feature. When asked to identify what they look for in a food venue, a great menu (91%) was top of consumers’ lists, followed by quality of food (85%). When asked what appeals most on a menu, more than half (57%) said variety, while 44% referred to descriptions used and 26% were drawn by format and appearance. More than two-thirds (69%) of professionals, however, said food quality was more important than the menu itself (63%). In another clash, the importance of great staff was the third most important feature for consumers (66%) compared with 46% of professionals. Of businesses surveyed that allow digital food-ordering and have access to customer data (56%), almost three-quarters (71%) use it to improve marketing but fewer than half (48%) use it to improve menus and operations. Consumers asked to nominate their favourite restaurant chain chose TGI Friday’s as the most popular, followed by Wagamama and Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi. Preoday chief executive Nick Hucker said: “A lot of emphasis has been placed on the ‘experience economy’ and it seems many restaurants are looking to offer something different to attract customers. Our research shows this attention may have been misplaced.”

City Pub Group chairman Clive WatsonCity Pub Group executives saw their remuneration jump in 2017 after receiving bonuses following the business’ initial public offering (IPO), the company’s annual report has revealed. The figures showed a £254,000 bonus was paid to executive chairman Clive Watson (pictured), while managing directors Alex Derrick and Rupert Clark received £180,000 and £240,000 respectively. Chief financial officer Tarquin Williams took home £128,000. The bonus was paid out 45% in cash and 55% in shares at the time of the IPO on 23 November 2017 at the placing price of £1.70. For the year ending 31 December 2017, Watson received total remuneration of £765,000 compared with £201,000 the previous year. This consisted of £101,000 salary and fees, £136,000 annual bonus, IPO bonus of £254,000, £3,000 in taxable benefits and £271,000 in pension and other payments. Derrick received total remuneration in 2017 of £642,000 compared with £187,000 the year before. This was made up of £101,000 salary and fees, £147,000 annual bonus, IPO bonus of £180,000, £5,000 in taxable benefits and £209,000 in pension and other payments. Clark took home total remuneration of £709,000 compared with £209,000 the previous year. This was made up of £101,000 salary and fees, £155,000 annual bonus, IPO bonus of £240,000, £4,000 in taxable benefits and £209,000 in pension and other payments. Williams saw his remuneration rise to £288,000 compared with £102,000 the year before. This consisted of £86,000 salary and fees, £71,000 annual bonus, IPO bonus of £128,000, £2,000 in taxable benefits and £1,000 in pension and other payments. City Pub Group currently operates 34 sites across the south of England and has secured another seven, including its first in Wales.

UK consumer confidence improved in the first quarter of 2018, rising by one percentage point from the previous quarter, according to the latest Consumer Tracker report from Deloitte. However, while consumer spending on essential categories such as food and drink rose during the period, discretionary spend remained flat. Overall consumer confidence rose to minus 6% in the first quarter of 2018, up from minus 7% the previous quarter. Overall consumer confidence is now at its highest level since first-quarter 2016 and, while confidence remains in negative territory, the latest results are a positive step from the minus 10% seen in the second quarter of 2017. Despite UK unemployment at a historic low, job security remains a key concern for consumers, falling two percentage points compared with the fourth of quarter 2017. Despite growing confidence over job opportunities, which rose one percentage point compared with the previous quarter, high-profile administrations may have weighed heavily on consumers’ minds. Consumer spending on essential categories such as utility bills, transport, and food and drink, rose one percentage point to 13% compared with the same period a year ago. By contrast, discretionary spending, which includes going out, furniture and electrical appliances, remained flat at minus 6. Deloitte head of consumer business research Ben Perkins said: “Consumer business, in particular the retail and casual dining sectors, have had to face unprecedented challenges over the past year. Cautious spending, increased competition, and rising labour and rental costs have been the cause for much head scratching across the sector. Second-quarter confidence may improve further, with the belated arrival of warmer weather and optimism ahead of the World Cup, which is an event that has historically provided a boost to consumer spending across a range of categories.” The quarterly Deloitte Consumer Tracker surveys more than 3,000 UK consumers.

Patty & BunBetter burger brand Patty & Bun has secured two new London sites – including its first that will serve breakfast. The first, in Borough High Street, is a 1,500 square foot unit opposite Borough Market. Due to open in May, it will be the first Patty & Bun site to offer a breakfast menu, available Monday to Friday. The ground-floor level will focus on a quick-service takeaway style with no seating. The lower floor, with high ceilings and exposed brick walls, will provide a dine-in experience for customers featuring a bar and an open kitchen. In addition, the company has secured a 2,000 square foot ground-floor unit at the new Television Centre development in White City. The two additions bring the brand’s total number of London locations to ten. Both sites were secured by agents Shelley Sandzer. Joint managing partner Nick Weir said: “We are delighted to announce our involvement in securing two sites for this immensely popular brand. Patty & Bun is going from strength to strength and we are proud to build on this close relationship and work together with the team on its expansion.” Joe Grossman, founder of Patty & Bun, added: “Once again Shelley Sandzer has delivered on a couple of great locations that will suit Patty & Bun perfectly. Having worked together to secure all the Patty & Bun units, the team fully understands what our brand is about.”

More than four-fifths of operators (82%) think the commission fees they pay to third-party delivery partners are too high, according to a new survey by ordering-technology provider Preoday. A further one-third (33%) think the fees aren’t worth the result, while 12% find them fair. Of companies that responded to the survey, more than two-thirds (68%) pay commission fees to their digital ordering technology supplier, with one-quarter (25%) paying more than 20% commission per order and 16% paying less than 10%. The survey found more than one-third (38%) of professionals would prefer their business to operate its own ordering service rather than using a third-party provider, while 38% claimed that once a business started using third-party ordering technology it became difficult to break away. The study also found more than two-fifths (44%) of operators that use digital ordering technology aren’t given access to customer data by their providers, while 43% believe third-party apps interfere with a brand’s relationship with its customers. Meanwhile, more than two-thirds (70%) of consumers who answered the survey would rather order meals direct from restaurants than see third-party companies take part of the fee. Almost three-quarters (74%) order food online or through an app, with 30% using delivery companies such as Deliveroo and Just Eat, and 23% ordering direct from restaurants. A further 21% said they looked at both options and decided at the time. Preoday chief executive Nick Hucker said: “Such high commission fees can be damaging to a business’ profit and, in these challenging times, to its survival. Foodservice businesses make an average 5% to 8% profit so if they’re paying 20%-plus in commission fees, that profit is being eaten away.”

A host of sector operators and investors have signed up for the Propel Finance and Investment Conference, which takes place on Thursday, 24 May at One Moorgate Place, London. They include Chopstix, Albion & East, Urban Village Pubs, The Wright Brothers, Ottolenghi, Crussh, Pubs of Distinction, Oakman Inns and Restaurants, Green & Fortune, Chameleon Bar & Dining, Mowgli, Shepherd Neame, Benito’s Hat, Noble Inns, Lisini, Coaching Inn Group, Dip & Flip, Dalziel & Vine, Barclays Bank and Aprirose Real Estate Investment. The speaking schedule features Ramzi Qattan, director at Christie & Co, will provide an overview of the pub, restaurant, foodservice and hotel sector mergers and acquisitions landscape, current valuations in the market and the do’s and don’ts when attempting to attract investment or sell a hospitality business. He will also provide insights on the range of businesses that are seeking to invest in the sector. Andrew Ball, partner at leisure sector specialist haysmacintyre, will give his top ten tips to maximise tax efficiency. Peter Hansen, partner at Sapient Corporate Finance, will provide an overview of mergers and acquisitions trends, give his view on where we are in the economic cycle and predict what lies ahead. Matt Smallwood, partner of the sector’s foremost financial public relations firm Instinctif, will provide his do’s and don’ts of financial PR. Richard Hamlin, partner at First Merchant, will offer expert insights on the London leasehold market and how to raise finance. Julia Groves, of Downing, will set out how Downing LLP has provided almost £24m of funding for Oakman Inns and Restaurants over the past three years using a variety of innovative funding solutions ranging from EIS funds to bonds from its award-winning Downing Crowd platform. Darrel Connell, of sector investor Imbiba, will talk about the company’s £50m Growth Fund, which will invest in as many as four new growth companies in the leisure and hospitality sector each year. Martin Sherwood, of Enterprise Investment Partners, will set out how pub, restaurant and foodservice companies can navigate the current rules on Enterprise Investment Schemes. Sector investor Luke Johnson will give his state-of-the-sector overview in conversation with Propel managing director Paul Charity. Clive Watson, founder and chief executive of City Pub Group, will provide insights on the process of undergoing an initial public offering and the benefits of going public. Meanwhile, there will be a panel discussion with Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack; Steve Crosswell, commercial banking director, hospitality and leisure, Metrobank; Mowgli founder Nisha Katona; Burning Night Group chief executive Allan Harper; Jonathan Simon, of Business Growth Fund; and Gary Robins, head of business development, Growthdeck. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for operators and £445 plus VAT for suppliers, while tickets for Propel Premium subscribers are £245 plus VAT. To book, email or call 01444 817691.

A host of companies have signed up for the Social Strategy In A Day Masterclass. They include Fuller’s, YO! Sushi, The Deltic Group, Shepherd Neame, Sticks ‘n’ Sushi, Burning Night Group, Antic London, Drake & Morgan, McManus Pub Company, The Coaching Inn Group, UKHospitality, Eclectic Bars, Signature Pub Group, The Duck & Rice, McMullen, Timothy Taylor, Urban Pubs and Bars, Red Mist Leisure, Boxpark, Mosaic Pub & Dining, The Wright Brothers, Dishoom, Galvin Restaurants, Kerb Food, Noble Inns, Simmons Group, Dip & Flip, Apartment Group, Graffiti Spirits Group, William Grant & Sons, Hi-Spirits, Camino, Hop Stuff Brewery, True North Brew, Namco, Pizza Union, Big Chill, Pebble Hotels, Eighty Four, Rocco Forte Hotels, Occumen, Cask Liquid Marketing, Classeq and Winterhalter. The event, which is aimed at allowing companies to develop and hone their social media strategy, features all-new content and insights to allow companies to increase brand exposure and broaden their reach. Propel has partnered with digital marketing company Digital Blonde for the one-day advanced workshop that will cover everything a marketing department should be thinking about when it comes to social strategy. It takes place on Thursday, 26 April at One Moorgate Place in London. For full details click here. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium members and £345 plus VAT for non-members and can be booked by emailing

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Propel Multi-Club March 2018

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7th  March 2018

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