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Story of the Day:

ALMR – PM’s immigration announcement provides stability for hospitality

Kate NichollsThe Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has welcomed Theresa May’s statement in Brussels, in which she set out her plans for migration upon Brexit and said that she didn’t want anyone working in Britain to have to leave. The prime minister announced, subject to reciprocity and negotiation on detail, EU nationals resident in the UK for more than five years would be offered residency. A criteria to build up a new “settled EU status” for those with shorter residency is another stated aim, along with other assurances to assuage concerns for EU nationals working in the UK. Although much detail is yet to emerge, including which legal jurisdiction would wield authority and what date will be used to measure current residency, the overall nature of the announcement was welcomed by the ALMR. Chief executive Kate Nicholls (pictured) said: “The prime minister’s statement is a welcome indication that the government recognises the value of EU workers to the UK economy, and that a sensible solution will prevail. This has the makings of an insightful and pragmatic step to safeguard the rights of EU workers’ rights and, in turn, economic growth. The eating and drinking out sector relies on migrant workers, particularly those from the EU, and the uncertainty that has surrounded the security of their status has been unhelpful. A KPMG report in March found that without EU workers, hospitality would face a recruitment shortfall of around 60,000 workers per year. That is without taking into account projected employment growth of 200,000 – those numbers could not possibly be met by UK workers alone. Around 180,000 workers in eating and drinking out businesses are EU nationals. This is a huge part of a workforce that plays a significant role in the UK’s economy. The plans outlined by Theresa May – albeit with many questions remaining – represent a positive signal for hospitality businesses and workers alike. For a sector that is such a driving force and significant contributor to the UK’s wider economy, the benefits of an outcome that balances domestic employment needs with retained rights for EU workers would be wide-reaching.”

Whitbread ‘extremely concerned’ over cladding at three Premier Inn sites

Whitbread said it is “extremely concerned” about cladding on three of its Premier Inn hotels. The company said three of its hotels “do not appear” to meet the required fire safety standards. This includes a hotel in Prime Minister Theresa May’s Maidenhead constituency. Cladding is believed to have contributed to the unusually rapid spread of fire at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington, in which at least 79 people died. An estimated 600 high-rise blocks have been covered in cladding in England alone, all of which are now undergoing urgent tests to see if the panels contain the flammable material that made Grenfell a deathtrap. Three of the buildings that failed the tests were refurbished by the same firm that fitted cladding to Grenfell, using the same highly flammable material. Premier Inn said external aluminium composite cladding on its hotels in Maidenhead, Brentford and Tottenham did not appear to comply with government guidance for tall buildings. The company added that the cladding on its buildings appeared to be a less flammable product than that thought to have been used at Grenfell Tower. The hotel chain said developers were responsible for the construction of the buildings. In a statement, Whitbread told the BBC’s Newsnight programme: “We were extremely concerned to learn that they had used a cladding that does not appear to comply with recognised government guidance on compliance with the Building Regulations for use in high rise buildings and are seeking to address this with the developers.” However, the company said an independent expert has assured them the buildings are safe to continue using because of their “robust” safety measures, such as fire detectors and smoke alarms in every room.

Other News:

Boost Juice Bars siteCheshire-based Boost Juice Bars, which is backed by the Business Growth Fund (BGF) and also operates The Shake Lab, has reported turnover increased 16% to £11,068,097 for the year ending 28 September 2016, compared with £9,551,536 the previous year. The company saw its pre-tax loss increase slightly to £69,258, compared with a loss of £61,348 the year before. During the period it received £31m from the BGF, which facilitated the opening of stores in 2016 and into 2017. Post-year end, the company transferred two stores to TD4 Milkshakes, a business owned by Boost Juice Bars’ parent firm TD4 Brands. The company stated: “We relocated one of our stores within Sheffield Meadowhall in 2016 and opened stores in Manchester Arndale Centre, Braehead, Westfield Stratford City and The Shake Lab concept in Manchester Trafford Centre. At the end of the financial year, the company had 31 sites trading. During the year turnover increased by £1.52m and gross profit margin improved from 75.08% to 75.66%. Distribution and administration costs increased by £1.3m so overall the company has seen an increase in the operating loss to £420,333. In January 2016, the company raised a further £1m of long-term funding from its corporate investor the BGF, which facilitated the opening of stores in 2016 and into 2017.”

JD Wetherspoon is to stop sending its monthly e-newsletter and will delete its database of customer email addresses. Writing to customers, chief executive John Huston said: “I’m writing to inform you we will no longer be sending our monthly customer newsletters by email. Many companies use email to promote themselves but we don’t want to take this approach – which many consider intrusive. Our database of customers’ email addresses, including yours, will be securely deleted. In future, rather than emailing our newsletters, we will continue to release news stories on our website – jdwetherspoon.com. You can also keep up to date by following our Facebook and Twitter pages. Thank you for your custom – and we hope to see you soon in a Wetherspoon pub.”

Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery has opened a fish and chip shop in the county. The company has launched Havener’s Fish and Chip in Fowey as part of its Havener’s Bar & Grill venue, a restaurant that also features rooms above and a two-bedroom self-catering apartment. Havener’s batter is made using the brewer’s flagship beer Tribute, while the licensed premises also offers cans of St Austell Brewery ales, including small batch beers. Fish is supplied by Cornish seafood company Fish for Thought, while Havener’s also sells a selection of fresh fish boxes, complete with recipes, tips and ingredients for customers to cook themselves. Fowey is a seaside town that despite drawing in thousands of tourists every year has lacked a chippy, until now. St Austell Brewery retail director Steve Worrall told Propel: “As an ambitious and growing business, St Austell Brewery’s focus continues to be on responding to the ever-changing demands of consumers. It’s our aim to ensure our estate continues to deliver exceptional and distinct experiences for our customers and the new fish and chip shop concept in Fowey in south Cornwall is an example of that. The new retail outlet complements the existing Havener’s Bar & Grill, providing a quality fish and chip takeaway option in Fowey alongside a quality pub restaurant offering modern British cuisine. We will continue to look out for opportunities where we can continue to delight the consumer.”

London-based Japanese food and tea specialist Tombo is to open its third site, in Fitzrovia. The company will open the Japanese-inspired poké and matcha bar in Windmill Street next month. The venue will offer a range of poké dishes, including salmon, tuna and teriyaki chicken, or diners can build their own bowl from a selection of bases, mains, toppings and sauces. The venue will also offer a range of Tombo green teas – sourced from the foothills of Mount Fuji – alongside Tombo matcha lattes and matcha brownies, gateau and sundaes. Tombo’s other sites are in South Kensington and Soho, while it also supplies teas to some of London’s best-known restaurants, including Jason Atherton’s Sosharu.

Award-winning mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan, has partnered with Doug McMaster, co-founder of Brighton’s zero-waste restaurant Silo, for a new venture in London. The duo will launch Cub at the former White Lyan site in Hoxton Street in September. Sitting above the recently launched basement bar Super Lyan, Cub will offer a “luxury experience for guests presenting the pair’s own modern interpretation of a restaurant”. It will be Chetiyawardana’s first full foray into the world of dining and McMaster’s first venture in the capital. Through work with Dr Arielle Johnson the venue will become its own ecosystem, with experimental ingredients grown on-site as part of a programme to research the effects of environment on food growth and flavour. Chetiyawardana said: “We want to keep pushing boundaries – and keep things weird – but in a way that feels accessible and honest as well as exciting and modern. Cub will be the continuation of these conversations but taking them in a new direction – looking at how we can rejoin the worlds of food and drink, and showcase the importance of innovation and sustainability to a wider public.” McMaster, who will continue at Silo’s helm while developing Cub’s food offering, added: “Cub is an exciting collaboration that allows us to explore how our industries can come together to make a unique experience. There’s always been a synergy between our businesses, and this allows us to explore how that can develop.”

Ales by Mail managing director Paul KruzyckiOnline craft beer retailer Ales By Mail is scrapping postage costs to the UK mainland in a move it claims is a “game changer” for the beer home delivery market. Ales By Mail delivers beer from breweries including Beaverton, Magic Rock and Cloudwater as well as a range of beers from around the world. Managing director Paul Kruzycki (pictured) said: “Broadly, there are two types of player in the market, those who offer a pick-and-mix range and concentrate on long-term customer loyalty like us, and those offering a subscription model. The latter cannot offer the option of free shipping as their margins are tiny. The part of the market we’ve pioneered is for the more serious craft beer fan seeking to source beers from the UK and around the world. It’s this market that our latest move to remove postage costs will completely disrupt. Our level of cost control and managing our margins have meant we can bring this postage-free element to the consumer as a first step in continuing to build customer loyalty. While it’s likely our competitors might follow suit, I’m confident our organisation will maintain the post-free element without having to ramp up the cost of the products.”

London-based Grind, the independent coffee and cocktail bar, has partnered with technology company Caternet in a bid to consolidate costs as it moves forward with ambitious growth plans. The partnership will see Grind benefit from live price control intelligence and reporting, freeing time spent on paperwork. The Caternet service also includes “clean invoicing”, which streamlines the process by removing credit notes. Grind will also use live priced recipe and stock reporting functions to keep tighter control on inventory and wastage. The company said the Caternet system would save its finance team at least 40 hours a month. Grind finance director Dan Sherfield said: “Our business is growing rapidly and we needed an automated system that could reduce the level of human intervention and capture and analyse accurate data, which then flows directly into finance reporting to support our forecasting and growth. Controlling live costs is also vital in line with our growth strategy.” Founded in Shoreditch in 2011 by David Abrahamovitch and Kaz James, Grind operates six cafe bars and three restaurants in London. The company also owns late-night venue the Grind Club Bar in Clerkenwell.

Venues in Borough High Street and the surrounding areas are uniting to raise money by taking part in the inaugural We Love London Bridge festival. The “open house” event on Saturday, 1 July will see pubs, bars and iconic venues in London Bridge unite to say thanks to “our emergency services and heroes” following the terrorist attack on Saturday, 3 June. Venues involved in the event include Arthur Hooper’s, Belushi’s, The Barrowboy And Banker, the Bunch of Grapes, St Christopher’s Inn pub, The Horniman, The Southwark Tavern, Slug and Lettuce, the Wheatsheaf, The Market Porter, The Mudlark, the Old Thameside Inn, The Ship, The George, The Anchor Backside, the Mug House, Jamies Bar & Dining, and The Miller. We Love London’s website states: “London Bridge has local gems – restaurants, pubs, attractions and bars – who are all coming together to stand proud as a community. There will be live music, food and drink. Just pop in and out of the great venues and enjoy the day!” All donations will go to the UK Solidarity Fund to help victims of terror attacks in the UK. Click here for more information.

Subway regional development agents from left: Adrian Johnson and Liam DalgarnoSubway has appointed three new regional development agents (RDAs) for the Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire territory. Father and son Bob and Liam Dalgarno have years of experience working for Subway, becoming franchisees when they opened their first store in 2004. In December 2011, they became RDAs for the Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex territory, increasing the number of Subway stores from 44 to 107, owning nine themselves. Adrian Johnson joins the Dalgarnos having started as a store manager before working with them as a field consultant. Most recently, he has been an operations director. Liam Dalgarno said: “We have a target of opening 90 Subway stores across the two territories in the next five years.” There are currently more than 2,400 Subway stores across the UK and Ireland. All stores are individually owned and operated by franchisees.

More than 1,000 people have expressed support online for Soho House to open a members-only club in Amsterdam, despite previous plans being blocked by the Amsterdam court last month. Developer Aedes hopes to open the club in the former Bungehuis building in Spuistraat but local residents took the case to court, which ruled the permit for the club had been wrongly granted. However, Soho House supporters have turned to Facebook to garner support. More than 1,250 people have liked the page so far. One wrote: “The creative industry from Amsterdam is passionately calling for the arrival of the membership-only Soho House to the centre of Amsterdam. We Amsterdammers want a house where we can meet international friends and colleagues.” Another wrote: “Soho House is an absolute asset to Amsterdam as a city and also for the creative sector.”

Esquires Coffee in MaidstoneEsquires Coffee has opened its 29th store, this time in Maidstone, Kent. The site in Gabriel’s Hill is the first for franchisee Umair Shafiq, who has prior experience of working in operations in the coffee industry. Esquires Coffee is expanding throughout the country and will have opened new franchised stores in Balham, south London, and Esher, Surrey, by August.

Restaurateur Arjun Waney, who has majority stakes in noted London venues Roka, Zuma and The Arts Club, has launched Greek restaurant Meraki in Fitzrovia. Meraki – a Greek term for the love and soul someone puts into their work – has a main entrance in Great Titchfield Street leading to a 100-cover restaurant, and another in Foley Street leading to a 30-seater bar. Both feature an outside terrace. Dimitrios Siamanis’ menu celebrates Greek produce with dishes including slow-cooked ox cheek with hilopites, artichokes and graviera, and baked cod wrapped in vine leaves, as well as seasonally changing mezze dishes, chargrilled meat and whole fish dishes. The drinks list features Greek wine and craft beer. A dedicated cocktail bar offers creations featuring Greek herbs and citrus fruit. Waney opened Zuma in Knightsbridge 15 years ago, followed by Roka and La Petite Maison. More recently he acquired members-only The Arts Club in Dover Street while openings include Bollix at The Shard, Coya in Piccadilly, and Coya Angel Court in the City.

The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has welcomed government guidance to local authorities to pay business rates relief to operators promptly and communicate when and how they will be paid. The ALMR said too many local authorities had “faltered” when licensed hospitality companies needed help and information, adding that “at long last direction and a sense of urgency” had been provided. The notice has been issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “We welcome the resumption of the political machine and the DCLG’s clear and positive message for relief to be paid promptly. The general election campaign imposed a political vacuum during which many pub and restaurant operators laboured on under the shadow of hugely increased business rates costs, with no sign of when assistance would emerge. Alongside the many other financial and regulatory burdens they face, the situation was becoming critical for many. Despite this money having been available since April, too many local authorities faltered when companies were suffering and needed assistance and information. At long last, direction and a sense of urgency has been provided. This call for action gives some succour to those pubs and restaurants suffering most acutely but there remains in place a flawed business rates system. As our letter earlier this week to the secretary of state for DCLG made quite clear, we shall continue to work with government and redouble our efforts to lobby for rates reform.”

The Weary Friar pub in CornwallThe Weary Friar pub in Pillaton, near Saltash in Cornwall, has been acquired off an asking price of £900,000 for the freehold interest in a deal brokered by agents Charles Darrow. The pub, owned by Baker Inns since 2005, has been bought by first-time operators Ryan and Trina West. The venue offers 132 covers on the ground floor, with 13 en-suite letting rooms and an owner’s flat on the first floor. The pub also features a courtyard, two seating areas and a car park. The Wests said the pub’s robust turnover and profits gave them the confidence to make their first pub acquisition. Charles Darrow director Jon Clyne said: “The appetite for quality freehold pubs in the south west remains strong. The Weary Friar was the perfect fit for Ryan and Trina. The pub is the centrepiece of village life in Pillaton and we hope that will continue for many years to come.”

Propel has teamed up with Mastering Multi-Units (MMU) to host a webinar for operators focused on dealing with the challenges associated with delivering operational excellence. The webinar, which is the second in a series, will be held on Thursday, 6 July from 2pm and will last about an hour. Hosted by MMU’s Daniel Mills and Lee sheldon, the webinar will define what operational excellence is and explain why the mindset required by multi-unit managers and their teams is so important to its delivery – day-in, day-out. It will provide examples of practical activities that underpin the consistent execution of brand or company standards and the foundation of delivering outstanding customer experiences. It will explore how “management” practices must minimise weaknesses in operational delivery and how it takes “leadership” to find and exploit opportunities for growth. The webinar will also review what highly effective multi-unit managers do to consistently focus on “making a difference” within the business; explain why holding individuals accountable for their performance is integral to sustaining operational excellence; and explore the types of conversation managers have (formally and informally) to create a performance-led culture. The webinar is free to Propel Premium subscribers and costs £25 plus VAT for non-Propel Premium subscribers. To book, email anne.steele@propelinfo.com or call 01444 817691. Details on how to join the webinar will be sent to participants prior to the event.

Orderella, the mobile ordering app that allows customers to order and pay for drinks and food using their mobile phone, has gone into administration after losses of more than £2m. The company’s assets have been bought by Nextround, a company which shares a fellow director, Dennis Collet, for £19,000 plus a sum equal to 20% of the net proceeds of sale above £2m from a future relevant share disposal or asset disposal within a 36-month period. Joint administrators Simon Harris and Ben Woodthorpe of ReSolve Partners were appointed on 8 June with the sale completed four days later. Documents revealed the company, which was launched in August 2012, made losses of £932,471 on turnover of £112,464 for the year ending 31 October 2015. Draft accounts showed a loss of £967,559 in the year ending 31 October 2016 on turnover of £109,469. In the seven months to 31 March, management accounts showed the company lost £239,472 on turnover of £28,876. Orderella was owed £31,017, of which £30,015 relates to a franchisee debt in New Zealand, which is a year overdue. Nextround has entered into a side agreement with Orderella to act as the company’s debt collection agent and if it recovers any funds will receive 50% of the realisations for its work in recovering the debts. Total unsecured creditor claims are estimated at £389,730, which includes an amount due to HMRC of £7,764. No distribution to unsecured creditors is expected. Prior to the administration, the company’s shares, business and assets were marketed to more than 165 distressed investors and specialist private equity funds, together with being advertised on IP-Bid.com, which is a website advertising businesses for sale. Additionally, the directors provided a list of 17 known competitors and industry contacts that ReSolve contacted along with 12 suggested potential interested parties. In total more than 194 parties were directly contacted and eight came through IP-Bid.com. Despite 12 parties signing non-disclosure agreements, receiving additional information and speaking with directors no offers were forthcoming.

Artist's impression of Bodega Leicester, Bitters N' TwistedBirmingham-based multiple operator Bitters ‘n’ Twisted Venues has reported a 13.2% rise in turnover to £7.8m for the year ending 31 August 2016 across its ten venues. Ebitda was in line with the previous year at £1.16m. Removing the effect of the two new openings in the period, like-for-like sales in the period increased 8.2%. Matt Scriven, managing director of Bitters ‘n Twisted Venues, said: “The 12 month period to August 2016 saw investment take place in two new openings, Buffalo & Rye in Birmingham city centre and a Bodega Cantina in Leicester, which has held back profit growth in the period. Both sites have gotten off to a solid if unspectacular start which seems to be the name of the game these days against a backdrop of ever stiffer competition, increasing customer demands and competition for good quality hospitality staff.” Since the end of the period a new Bodega Cantina has opened in Derby in April 2017 and a fifth Bodega Cantina is planned for north Birmingham in the suburb of Sutton Coldfield for September 2017. A significant rent increase at The New Inn in Harborne by the landlord Marston’s as well as a 160% increase in the site’s rateable value has ultimately led to a decision to vacate that site which will happen on 31 August 2017, the company said. It is understood that Marston’s is planning to refurbish and re-open the venue under the Revere brand later in the year.

Hop Back Brewery managing director Paul SullivanWiltshire-based brewer and retailer Hop Back Brewery has appointed Paul Sullivan (pictured) as its new managing director. Sullivan joins the company after ten years at Devizes-based brewer and retailer Wadworth, where he most recently held the position of commercial director. Hop Back Brewery chairman and founder John Gilbert said: “Paul joins at a very exciting time. Not only is it 30 years since our initial brew of ‘GFB’ at the Wyndham Arms in Salisbury, but our estate of ten pubs continues to go from strength to strength with both The Archer in Wolstanton and The Sultan in London, being recognised most recently in the campaign for Real Ale’s Best Pub Awards. I am confident Paul’s significant experience in all aspects of our business will ensure that we are able to fully capitalise on future opportunities.” Sullivan added: “I have always been a great admirer of the beers and the pubs, so to have the opportunity to develop both for the next 30 years and beyond is fantastic. I look forward to working with John, the board, and the rest of the team.”

Kate NichollsThe Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has branded the Queen’s Speech “disappointing” for not containing a specific announcement on business rates, and has called for a “commitment to rates reform” in the next Budget. The ALMR welcomed news there would be specific bills on trade and customs during the next two parliamentary years but also called for clarity regarding access to labour. Chief executive Kate Nicholls (pictured) said: “The speech rightly focused on Brexit but it is disappointing there was no specific announcement on business rates reform, which we called on as a first-day priority for the new government. The current rates regime is rigged against hospitality businesses as it penalises growth and investment as higher turnover invariably leads to higher rates. We will now look for reassurances from ministers on a commitment to rates reform in the Budget later this year. However, we welcome reassurances business will be a key stakeholder in Brexit negotiations and there will be specific bills on trade and customs – these are important for food and drink to ensure import costs are not increased further. The ALMR will be front and centre in those discussions. On immigration and access to labour, the sector needs clarity. We wait with interest for detail on this and other issues such as skills and employment protection measures but strongly urge the government to work closely with us and other stakeholders to ensure they don’t damage growth or investment. The announcement on increases to the National Living Wage was widely expected and it is vitally important this doesn’t become a politically-set wage target that could see many businesses struggle to afford increases. A commitment to increases in line with average earnings goes some way to reassure us this will not be the case but maintaining the independence of the Low Pay Commission to set National Living and Minimum Wage rates is critical.”

Restaurant operator D&D London has opened Issho, a new Japanese rooftop restaurant, in the £165m Victoria Gate development in Leeds. Issho, which means “together” in Japanese, offers authentic Asian dishes with a contemporary twist and an emphasis on sharing. The 7,807 square foot restaurant features a sushi bar, rooftop bar and outdoor terrace. The decor of the venue, which is D&D’s third in Leeds following Angelica and Crafthouse, features a range of Japanese materials including charred timber as well as oak, marble style tiles, natural-edged porphyry stone and suspended timber rafts. Issho executive chef Ben Orpwood has previously worked at Knightsbridge restaurant Zuma and helped launch its Istanbul and Dubai sites before moving to Australia to work on the growth of the Toko Group as executive chef. He also opened Asian restaurant Sexy Fish in Mayfair in the same role. The open kitchen also serves traditional “robatayaki” dishes, where food such as Iberico pluma, sea bream and king salmon is slow-grilled over charcoal.

BrewDog Brewery USA

Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has revealed it has produced its first batch of beer outside Scotland – at its new brewhouse in Columbus, Ohio. The company stated on its blog: “Following rigorous testing of all electrical systems, boilers and vital processes like water treatment we produced the first batch of BrewDog beer brewed in another country. Our BrewDog USA team of brewers is now brewing several times a week and we have batches of Ohio-brewed Punk IPA, Dead Pony Club, Elvis Juice and Jet Black Heart in the tanks of our brewhouse and maturing, ready to be served from the taps of DogTap Columbus. The team of engineers from KHS are also on-site to commission the canning line so we can begin packaging those beers up for further afield in the US. We are just about to key in the massive cold-store to have all of our hops and finished beer chilled. For all our BrewDog USA crew, we are close to finalising an epic 11,000 square foot office space! Finally, we have now launched our US online shop so BrewDog supporters in America have access to the entire range of merchandise.” Last month, BrewDog closed its campaign on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo having raised almost $325,000 to open a craft beer hotel and sour beer brewery next to the Columbus facility.

Rural pubs have been encouraged to “stick to their roots” and preserve what it means to run a traditional country inn. A survey conducted on behalf of Upham Pub Company asked customers for their thoughts on what makes a “perfect country pub” following news four pubs a day are closing in the UK. Respondents named a friendly and inviting atmosphere, attentive staff and good-quality food as the top three factors. Participants in the study of more than 500 pub-goers also cited attractive surroundings and decor (84%), versatile outdoor space (72%) and a loveable licensee (68%) as being key in contributing to a great customer experience. Factors such as free Wi-Fi (44%), regular events (24%) and live sports coverage (11%) were found to be of less importance suggesting, Upham said, concentrating on a core offering would pay dividends for country pubs. Chief executive Chris Phillips said: “With a worrying number of pubs closing on a weekly basis, it’s important to remember what’s important to customers and what a country pub stands for.” Upham Pub Company operates 16 pubs in the south of England alongside the newly expanded Upham Brewery.

Richard Corrigan, whose company Richard Corrigan Restaurant Holdings operates three restaurants in London, has opened standalone Dickie’s Bar at Corrigan’s Mayfair. The venture is a collaboration with award-winning mixologist Gregory Buda, of New York cocktail bar The Dead Rabbit, and Drinksology founder Richard Ryan. Ingredients at Dickie’s Bar are largely sourced from Corrigan’s garden and farm, Virginia Park Lodge in Cavan, Ireland, to create a “unique list of cocktails and home-infused sodas and tinctures”, alongside an extensive list of Irish whiskies. The menu has been designed by Drinksology as a storybook, telling the tale of Dickie’s Bar, the characters behind it and the journey of ingredients from farm to glass. The restaurant in Upper Grosvenor Street has been altered to include a separate entrance. Corrigan said: “I decided to work with Greg because he has a true talent. He is experimental with flavour but has a lot of respect and understanding for the ingredients he uses. It was a natural fit and progression.” Buda added: “We have built a bar programme on a par with the incredible food coming out of the kitchen.”

LeonHealthy eating brand Leon is switching to 100% solar power for the summer. The company moved to 100% UK renewable energy last year in partnership with Opus Energy. However, its 47 UK stores will be powered this summer by more than 1,000 solar sites from across the country. Steve James, director of corporate solutions at Opus Energy, said: “Solar power plays a vital role in our renewable energy mix and the UK is one of the world leaders in solar deployment. We are proud of our ability to provide 100% sustainable, cleanly-sourced energy to our customers, as well as supporting those who want to generate their own power and make the most of our natural resources – especially in the midst of this year’s heatwave.” Leon has also launched a summer menu, with new dishes including south Indian spiced fish, and halloumi and smashed avocado burger. Breakfast additions include hash brown bites and a mango passion fruit kefir smoothie. Earlier this week, Leon opened its second site in Manchester, at Piccadilly Station. John Vincent and Henry Dimbleby founded Leon in 2004. Last month, the company secured a £25m investment from Spice, controlled by GP Investments, which acquired a significant minority stake in Leon. The investment will help the brand continue its expansion in the UK and open its first restaurants in the US in the second half of this year.

English wine genericThe number of English wines scanned using wine app Vivino has risen 155% in the first quarter of 2017, compared with the same period two years ago. The amount of English wines reviewed on Vivino during the same period also soared 83%, demonstrating the nation’s thirst for home-grown wine is not set to slow, the company said. Vivino brand ambassador Adrian Smith said: “We all know English wines have been steadily increasing in popularity but these figures demonstrate growth within the sector is unprecedented. The British public continues to sit up and notice the UK produces some lovely bottles. If the sector is to continue increasing at this unprecedented rate and really take hold as a popular wine style then it’s vital industry events such as English Wine Week continue to fly the flag.” Vivino is powered by a community of 23 million wine drinkers who use the app to scan and rate more than 500,000 wines a day. The company was founded by Heini Zachariassen and Theis Søndergaard in 2010.

Numis Securities leisure analyst Tim Barrett has said Whitbread’s first-quarter results are ahead of expectations but Premier Inn’s revpar gap with the market is narrowing. Issuing a ‘Hold’ note on the shares with a target price of 4,100p, Barrett said: “Premier Inn revpar grew by 2.9% in the first quarter compared with -0.6% in the previous quarter. This is ahead of Bloomberg consensus of 1.9% (and Numis estimates of 0.2%). Market data has improved for the past three months – weekly STR data for the past 13 weeks showed a circa 100 basis points improvement in the economy/midscale category. Additionally, Whitbread’s underperformance of the index has narrowed (from 170 basis points in FY17 to 120 basis points this quarter). Premier Inn continues to expand rapidly (1,000 rooms year-to-date versus 4,200 target) and management still estimates the revpar dilution from new rooms at circa 1.5 percentage points (2.7 percentage points in FY17). Adjusting for this would give first quarter revpar of 4.4%, slightly ahead of the economy/midscale market (4.1%). Prior to recent terrorist attacks London revpar was recovering strongly. This was also reflected in Whitbread’s performance that showed 3.8% in London versus 2.9% in the regions in the first quarter. Pub restaurants performed in line with a lacklustre market – 0.7% versus 1.1% for the Peach Tracker (consensus 0.3%). Costa’s UK like-for-like sales grew by 1.1%, an impressive recovery from the fourth quarter (-0.8%) and ahead of our forecast (0%). Whitbread suggested the performance in the fourth quarter had been impacted by the operational calendar and guided to 0% to 2% for FY18. Management suggests the 10p coffee price increase made in February contributed most of the increase. Our FY18 forecasts currently assume revpar growth of 1% and like-for-like growth of 0.5% and 1.0% in restaurants and Costa respectively. Revpar is running circa two percentage points ahead of forecast but the outlook for the hotel market is mixed in our view. Whitbread is underweight in London, which is likely to see at least a two to three-month impact from recent terrorist attacks. Given the risk of circa 10% revpar decline across this proportion of the estate (the reaction in 2005), we remain cautious. Whitbread trades on a CY18 EV/Ebitda of 9.0 times, price-to-earnings of 14.9 times and free cash flow yield (pre growth capex) of 5%. The improvement to circa 3% group like-for-like sales growth should help Whitbread to offset cost inflation, however it will need to execute well on its £150m efficiency programme to meet expectations in the medium term.”

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has launched this year’s national Pub Design Awards, held in association with Historic England to recognise high standards of architecture in the refurbishment and conservation of existing pubs and the construction of new ones. Last year, award-winners included the Scottish Stores in King’s Cross and The Tim Bobbin in Burnley. Awards co-ordinator Sean Murphy said: “These prestigious awards have helped to raise the profile of numerous pubs that exemplify the very best of Britain. Individually, they each tell a story of huge potential and dedication, regardless of whether a pub is a new-build or a much-loved heritage pub restored to its former glory.” The Pub Design Awards are open to all pubs in the UK, with anyone free to nominate a venue. However, entrants may be required to provide additional photographs and plans of the building so the licensee should always approve the entry. The closing date for entries is Saturday, 23 September. Click here to enter.

Cyril LavenantThe British out-of-home foodservice market has slowed since the June 2016 Brexit referendum result, according to new research by insights firm NPD Group. While visits after the referendum (ten-month period July 2016 to April 2017) were still 0.7% over the equivalent period a year earlier, this is slower than the 1.5% visit growth seen in the period before the referendum (six months January to June 2016 compared with same period the year before). Visit growth to quick-service restaurants (QSR) has slipped marginally. QSR was registering pre-referendum visit growth of 2.2% but this has now fallen to 1.9%. Full-service restaurants – the most expensive foodservice channel – have seen the most noticeable slowdown, from 3% down to 2%. Cyril Lavenant (pictured), NPD Group foodservice director UK, said: “The British foodservice market has slowed since the Brexit referendum one year ago and the industry remains smaller than it was in 2009. However, the main message is there is still growth and the industry is currently showing resilience. This is because operators have spent the past ten years since the last downturn creating a lively and appealing foodservice environment that encourages consumers to keep eating out. However, there are big challenges ahead. The weakness of sterling means foodservice operators will have to replace global sourcing with local sourcing while ensuring they still get the quality they need. Inflation will prompt consumers to make savings and so we expect it to dampen demand for eating out. Tighter immigration rules will make it harder for operators to hire staff. This is a huge issue in an industry where about 20% of employees are not from the UK. Even if a work-visa system operates when the UK leaves the EU, hiring EU staff would still be more difficult because it will absorb time and create costs. Any sustained staff shortage would damage Britain’s foodservice sector.” The research showed consumers have started to drop the more expensive dinner occasion, which is down nearly 3% in visit terms, although breakfast and lunch appear to be taking up the slack with faster growth since the referendum than before. Children are another casualty of the post-Brexit eating-out market. There has been a drop of more than 2% in visits by adults accompanied by children of 17 years of age or less. But contrary to the trend seen in the recession that began end of 2007, visits not involving a deal or promotion are still growing faster than promoted visits. NPD Group said this was a clear indication consumers feel they are getting good value for money from British foodservice operators. However, the perception of value might change if operators introduce large price increases to cope with strong inflation. Operators will have to maintain a very appealing experience combining great service, as well as high quality of food and drinks to mitigate the negative impact of higher prices. The research revealed there was no evidence consumers are choosing lower quality food and drinks. In fact, the number of visits where a consumer chooses an outlet for its “quality” has increased by 3% since the referendum. However, inflation is definitely evident in foodservice and has pushed the average bill per visit up by slightly more than 2%. Meanwhile, less affluent consumers are showing the most caution over spending. Visits among the C2DE demographic have dropped nearly 1% in the ten months July 2016 to April 2017 since the Brexit referendum. Prior to the referendum, this demographic was recording growth in eating-out visits. Lavenant added: “We are only one year beyond the referendum and the full effects of Brexit on Britain’s foodservice industry have not yet appeared. But one thing is for sure – the industry will need strong growth rates if it is going to match and exceed the size it enjoyed before the 2008/2009 recession. The post-referendum slowdown will make it more difficult to get there.”

Alison Brittain, chief executive of WhitbreadWhitbread has reported like-for-like sales were up 2.9% in the 13 weeks to 1 June with total sales up 7.6%. Premier Inn like-for-likes rose 4.7% with total sales up 9.2%, restaurant like-for-likes were up 0.7% with total sales rising 2.1% and Costa like-for-likes grew by 1.1% with total sales up 8.7%. Whitbread chief executive Alison Brittain (pictured) said: “We have had a good start to the year, with first quarter sales growth of 7.6%, in line with our expectations. Our continued drive to grow and innovate in our core UK businesses, focus on our strengths internationally and build capabilities to support long-term growth, combined with our ongoing cost efficiency programme, gives us confidence that we will make further good progress this year. Premier Inn continued to win overall market share with strong sales growth of 9.2% as we benefitted from a resilient hotel market and the contribution from the circa 9,000 rooms we opened over the past two years, which are maturing well. Our digital development team continued to innovate for our customers and we launched our personalised business-to-business booking platform that helped to maintain our direct bookings at 94% of sales. We were pleased total UK occupancy was up compared with the first quarter last year at 79.2%, at the same time as we increased our capacity. Costa sales grew 8.7% with UK equity like-for-like growth of 1.1% and a good performance in our expanding travel and drive-thru channels. We are focused on executing on our initiatives, rolling out ‘Cold Brew’ in more than 200 of our stores and our latest summer Frostino and cooler drinks have just gone on sale this month. We also successfully introduced our new breakfast range towards the end of the quarter, with further new food ranges launching throughout the year. Costa Express continued its expansion with 300 net installations during the quarter. In May we officially opened our new Roastery giving us capacity to grow over the next 20 years and provide us with an industry-leading centre for coffee innovation and training. Internationally, in Germany our Premier Inn hotel in Frankfurt is performing well and we continue to develop our current committed pipeline of five hotels. Meanwhile, in Costa, we are seeing good progress in China with positive like-for-like sales growth. We aim to accelerate the development of our international businesses in these attractive markets and continue to look for opportunities to grow more quickly. In line with our property strategy we completed the sale and leaseback of our 247-bedroom hotel in Shoreditch, with proceeds of £51m representing a good yield of just under 4%, reflecting the strength of Whitbread’s covenant. We expect proceeds of around £100m to £150m from sale and leaseback transactions this year. We have a clear plan to deliver growth in our existing estate and remain on track to open circa 4,200 hotel rooms, 230 to 250 Costa coffee shops and install circa 1,250 Costa Express machines this year.”

easyHotelEasyhotel, the owner, developer, operator and franchisor of “super budget” branded hotels, has agreed a deal to open its first leased site, in Oxford. The company has signed a 25-year lease for the new purpose-built Easyhotel in Summertown, a residential and shopping district less than two miles from Oxford city centre. The site is to be redeveloped as a mixed use property. A new purpose-built 180-beroom Easyhotel will occupy the first and second floors of the property and is expected to open in the second half of 2019. The agreement is subject to planning permission. The company stated: “Oxford is a key economic centre in the UK and a popular tourist destination where demand for hotel accommodation is consistently strong. High land costs and the lack of suitable, available sites have made Oxford a very difficult city within which to develop hotels in general, and budget hotels in particular, with only 200 new hotel rooms having opened in the city in the last five years. Oxford will be the group’s first leased site. The hotel will be let on a 25-year fully repairing and insuring lease at an annual rent of about £1.2m. The hotel will be developed by 4Urban Consulting through its investment vehicle GHSR LLP, in accordance with Easyhotel’s specifications. 4Urban are backed by the Bramall family. As previously announced on 23 May 2017, the board will only consider leased sites on a limited and specific basis for strategic locations where the acquisition of freehold or long leasehold interests do not meet the board’s investment return targets. This will enable the company to increase the number of hotel rooms under its direct control and grow its earnings at a lower capital cost while, at the same time, maintaining a risk balanced approach to covering the group’s future lease obligations. The Oxford site takes Easyhotel’s pipeline of owned development projects to 781 rooms in addition to the 1,236 franchise rooms currently under development.” Chief executive Guy Parsons added: “Oxford is a premier business and tourist destination with more than seven million visitors per year. The city has been on our target list for some time and we are pleased to have agreed terms on this new hotel, which will be the closest branded budget and super budget hotel to the city centre. The board looks forward to announcing further opportunities for the Easyhotel brand as we expand our development pipeline.”

Artist impression of The Department Store, Albion and East's new site in BrixtonAlbion and East Group, formerly known as Ruth & Robinson, is to start expansion after securing a venue to open its second London restaurant. Agent Shelley Sandzer has secured a site in Ferndale Road, Brixton, with Albion and East set to open a 4,579 square foot cafe and bar in September. The new restaurant is in The Department Store, a development by Squire & Partners architects with the aim of creating an “evolving hub of creative, retail and community uses”. The venue will be split over the basement and ground-floor levels, with an area for outdoor seating. During the daytime, the venue will provide a relaxed workspace environment with a menu inspired by a wood-fired oven and a coffee hatch opening on to Stockwell Avenue. Shelley Sandzer joint managing partner Nick Weir said: “It’s great to see a budding operator like Albion and East continue to grow and in such a brilliant location. We know this tenant will provide a space perfect for employees and locals.” The Imbiba Partnership-backed Albion and East Group, led by Sarah Weir, opened its debut site, Martello Hall, in Hackney in December. Shelley Sandzer acted for Squire and Partners. Albion & East dealt directly.

The speaker schedule for the Propel Multi-Club summer conference on Thursday, 6 July has been confirmed and multi-site operators can claim two free places by emailing Jo Charity on jo.charity@propelinfo.com. The event will also involve the Propel summer party in the evening, featuring laser tag, human table football and the chance to tackle the podium jump made famous by BBC television show Total Wipeout. Cyril Lavenant, of NPD Group, will provide insights into the current state of the UK foodservice market, how the UK compares with the US and Europe, and outline ten key trends in the foodservice market while predicting future progress. Roger Perowne, chief executive of Morar Consulting, which launched a daily sector brand tracker in March, will set out the major learnings for the sector in Morar’s measurement of consumer perspectives on the major restaurant brands. David Bruce, co-founder of Firkin Pubs, The Capital Pub Company and The City Pub companies and currently chairman of The West Berkshire Brewery, has raised more than £100m through EIS schemes and crowdfunding in the past two decades. He will give his top tips on raising cash for growth businesses. Husband-and-wife team Ali Khan and Samrien Hussain, whose company Tick Tock Unlocked operates six escape rooms in four UK cities, will talk about how they have developed high-quality, differentiated escape rooms, their most recent opening at Trinity Leeds, their customer base and USPs, and how they see the market in experiential leisure developing. Colin Sadler, managing director of Marston’s Revere Pub Company, will set out how the company has developed a premium pub segment, its USPs, further plans and the benefits for the company’s wider managed division. Jonathan Arana-Morton, co-founder of The Breakfast Club, whose sites often attract large queues of customers, will talk about how the company has developed since being founded in 2005, its expansion in London and elsewhere, the strengths of its offer, and future plans. Nick Taplin, chief executive of Black and White Hospitality, will explain how the company is developing a 50-strong franchised restaurant estate in partnership with celebrity chef Marco Pierre White, its unique brands, its USPs, and future prospects. Simon Blackbourne, commercial director of Tahola, will share his insights into how operators can use Big Data to support business growth and the current trends in our data-driven economy. Nisha Katona, former barrister and now television chef, restaurateur and recipe book author, will explain the USPs of her three-strong Indian street food brand Mowgli, her perspectives on turning her passion for food into running restaurants, and her progress along the multi-site learning curve. Rupert Clevely, managing director of Ei Group’s managed expert joint venture Hippo Inns, will talk about the development of a ten-strong estate with the tenanted operator, how the company’s offer has developed, future prospects, and points of difference with his previous business Geronimo Inns.

Subscribers to Propel Premium are receiving a new benefit – a £50 discount on tickets to Propel’s Masterclass series of events in 2017. The series includes The Advanced Social Media Masterclass, The Leadership Masterclass, the Finance and Investment Masterclass, and the Multi-site Management Masterclass. The current free service to all existing readers remains the same but readers can opt to upgrade to receive the Propel Premium service. Propel Premium subscribers also receive the Morning Newsletter, which is sent at 6.30am each weekday, 12 hours earlier at 6.30pm the day before. On 1 March, Propel Premium subscribers will also receive an updated version of the Propel database of multi-site companies, which will add another 200 companies to the existing database of 700 to hit the 900 mark. For operators, annual subscription costs £345 plus VAT, with an extra £50 per additional subscriber at each company. For suppliers, annual subscription costs £445 plus VAT, with an extra £50 per additional subscriber at each company. To subscribe to the Propel Premium service, email anne.steele@propelinfo.com

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Propel Multi Club March 2017

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