Star Pubs & Bars

Story of the Day:

ALMR and BHA to merge creating ‘powerful unified voice’ for £130bn sector

Plans have been unveiled to merge the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and British Hospitality Association (BHA) to create a “powerful unified voice” to support the hospitality sector and “deliver its full growth potential”. The new body – UKHospitality – will actively speak for the UK’s third-largest private sector employer, which combined directly generates £130bn of revenue each year. It will bring together businesses from all aspects of hospitality – coffee shops, hotels, pubs, restaurants, leisure parks, nightclubs, contract caterers, entertainment and visitor attractions. UKHospitality will actively speak for these combined industries on the big strategic, structural and regulatory issues and deliver policies to support its strong growth trajectory. Combining the expertise, experience and resources of the ALMR and the BHA, the proposed new body will champion the breadth of innovative and vibrant hospitality businesses across the UK, giving an authoritative voice to more than 700 companies, 65,000 venues and two million workers. It will speak on behalf of a wide range of leisure and out-of-home businesses, from FTSE 100 enterprises to niche groups and independent single-site operators. Alongside the merger proposals, the two bodies have released new figures emphasising the size, scale and importance of the sector and its continued potential for growth. The sector is forecast to grow 4.3%, generating 19,000 additional jobs by 2020. UKHospitality’s objective will be to deliver much-needed policies to help the sector secure that opportunity by driving employment and innovation, and supporting entrepreneurs. Kate Nicholls, proposed chief executive elect of UKHospitality, said: “This sector is a vital, dynamic economic powerhouse whose importance is clear in our communities, our high streets and our everyday lives. It is one of our fastest-growing, most productive industries and last year it delivered one-in-eight of all new jobs. Faced with unprecedented political and regulatory pressures, now more than ever it requires the strongest and most effective voice within government. UKHospitality will be that vital voice and I am relishing the prospect of working with members to deliver strong and connected relationships with government and a shared ambition to reshape the future of hospitality.” Nick Varney, proposed UKHospitality chairman, added: “Hospitality is a prosperous and vibrant sector with great potential for further growth if the right policies are in place, and a single, strong trade association will be ideally positioned to provide that support. We are calling for a new ministerial champion and sector deal enabling the hospitality sector to invest in world-class careers and customer experiences.” Steve Richards, proposed deputy chairman of UKHospitality, said: “A single strong voice for this vital and important sector will create a powerful platform for the changes we need on tax, people, property and regulation for UK hospitality to really thrive, drive jobs growth and cement its position as a leading industry globally.” The proposed UKHospitality board is Wendy Bartlett, of Bartlett Mitchell; Steve Cassidy, of Hilton; Grant Hearn, of Amaris Hospitality; Bob Ivell, of Mitchells & Butlers; Simon Jones, of Premier Inn; Dermot King, of Bourne Leisure; Peter Marks, of The Deltic Group; Ranjit Mathrani, of Masala World; Calum Ross, of Loch Melfort; Robin Rowland, of YO! Sushi; Alex Salussolia, of Glendola Leisure; Damian Walsh, of CGA; and Paul Wigham, of All Our Bars. The proposals have been recommended to members and an extraordinary general meeting will be held in February to approve them.

Marston’s reports snow and ice impact trading

Ralph Findlay, Chief Executive, Marston'sMarston’s has reported the snow and icy weather had an impact on trading for the 16 weeks to 20 January 2018. The company stated: “We continued to make progress in the period with growth in both sales and underlying earnings, helped by the acquisition of the Charles Wells Brewing Business in May 2017 and the contribution from the 19 new-build pubs in financial year 2017. Snow and icy weather towards the end of the period, both in early December and between Christmas and New Year, caused some unavoidable disruption to the business. Total sales for the period in Destination and Premium are up 4.9% reflecting the contribution from the estate expansion in 2017. Like-for-like sales in the period, excluding the impact of the two snow-affected weeks, are up 1.1%. The weather impact on like-for like sales was about 2%, and on an unadjusted basis like-for-like sales were down 0.9% in the period. We estimate the profit impact of this to be £1m. We continue to maintain a disciplined approach to operating margins without recourse to the significant discounting which has remained prevalent in the sector. Margins remain in line with expectations and are slightly below last year reflecting cost increases as previously guided. There are no changes to the cost guidance previously provided in November 2017. Like-for-like sales for the period in Taverns are up 2.6%, benefiting from the performance of franchise-style agreements and an improved drinks range. Our leased estate has performed well, with profit growth in the period estimated to be 2%. Marston’s Beer Company has achieved good growth in the period to date, with own-brewed volumes up 33%. In addition to the acquisition of Charles Wells Brewing Business we are benefiting from distribution gains achieved in 2017 and a stronger brand portfolio well represented in the premium ale, craft beer and ‘world beer’ segments of the market. We remain on-track to achieve the targeted synergies from the acquisition. We remain on target to open 15 pub restaurants and bars and six lodges this year. We have opened three pub-restaurants and two lodges in the year to date, including a 104-bedroom lodge in Ebbsfleet.” Chief executive Ralph Findlay (pictured) said: “We are pleased with our progress, which included record total retail sales in our pubs of £4m on Christmas Day – 5.4% higher than last year. We continue to achieve growth against tough market conditions and are benefiting from investment in both pubs and brewing. We look forward to continuing to provide our customers with a great pub experience and excellent service, as well as delivering value for shareholders, over the year ahead.”

Other News:

Some operators are reaching “crisis proportions”, although many may benefit in the short term from changes in the pricing environment, according to the latest Quarterly Briefing Report from Peter Backman. In his summary of the fourth quarter of 2017 with forecasts for the first and second quarters of this year, Backman said: “Christmas has been a disappointment. While there was some growth it wasn’t spread across sectors – pubs did ok with wet sales, restaurants performed less well. With already weakened finances – which had been going downhill for most of the year – we’re reaching crisis proportions for some operators. There were CVAs, pre-packs and store closures in the restaurant and food-to-go sectors before Christmas and more followed after. None of this is helped by oversupply in the market, which may ease very slightly as some operators (attempt to) hand back their keys. Other sectors have also seen poorer conditions. Hotels, for example, have had positive 2016 sales figures to exceed, which has been difficult to achieve in 2017. Meanwhile, contract caterers continue to battle against structural shifts in their business environment. Against this background the changes in distribution are worth noting. P&H ceased to operate in the period, while Tesco’s acquisition of Booker continued apace. In the face of a slowing market, these developments portend changes in the pricing environment. Operators may benefit – at least in the short term. Larger distributors will gain share and manufacturers will pay the cost.”

Revolution de CubaRevolution Bars Group executive chairman Keith Edelman has told Propel the company is now “back on track” after admitting it had been distracted by a potential takeover. The company, which operates 72 premium bars across the UK under its Revolution and Revolucion de Cuba brands, was the subject of a failed £101.5m bid from Stonegate Pub Company in October, while Deltic Group tabled a merger proposal that was rejected by Revolution Bars Group management. Edelman also said the search for a new chief executive following the departure of Mark McQuater in October was going “very well” and the company hoped to make an announcement in the “next few weeks”. Edelman said: “The period running up to Christmas has been a distraction – for staff and management – with the possible takeover. I think that’s inevitable in those circumstances but we got everyone back on track very quickly, which was something we had to do with December being such a crucial trading period. We are now just focusing on running our business.” Revolution Bars Group reported like-for-like sales up 5.9% for the four weeks to 31 December 2017 – the fifth successive year the company has enjoyed a record festive performance. Meanwhile, like-for like sales during the 27 weeks to 6 January 2018 were up 1.9%, with a 14-week second-quarter performance up 3.1%. Edelman said: “The fact this comes on top of record Christmas results last year is especially pleasing. If you have a bad year, the figures the following year can be flattering but we are continuing to see a strong performance. I think that comes down to a few things – hard work, our brands being in the pysche of the consumer and our top-class staff, who deliver a great customer experience.” Edelman added the company would like to increase the rate of openings from six a year, dependant on finding the right sites. He said the company was also still open to small acquisitions but it came down to making sure the return on investment was “attractive”. He added: “We are focused on growing both brands. I think we are delivering a great premium offer and giving value for money but, in my view, our main difference is our fantastic staff. I think we are a fun business and exciting to work for. We have a culture of promoting from within – many of our managers started working as bar staff.”

SSP, the operator of food and beverage outlets in travel locations worldwide, has reported like-for-like sales increased 2.7% for its first-quarter ending 31 December 2017. The company stated: “SSP has had a good start to the new financial year and has made encouraging further progress in rolling out its strategic initiatives. Total group revenue increased by 13.5% on a constant currency basis, comprising like-for-like sales growth of 2.7%, net contract gains of 8.1%, and the acquisition of TFS, our joint venture in India, adding a further 2.7% to sales. Total group revenue growth at actual exchange rates was 12.2%. Like-for-like sales growth in the UK and continental Europe was in line with expectations, driven by the ongoing roll-out of strategic initiatives and increasing passenger numbers. In North America sales were driven by robust passenger growth, although at a number of our airports the impact of changes in airline routes and passenger flows seen in the second half of 2017 has continued into the first quarter. In the rest of the world (including TFS), we continued to see good like-for-like sales growth. Looking forward to the full year, our expectation for like-for-like sales growth for the group remains unchanged, at between 2% and 3%. Net contract gains were driven by significant contributions from North America and the rest of the world. Looking forward, after a good start in the first quarter, an encouraging pipeline of new contracts and the deferral of redevelopments at some of our airports, we now anticipate net contract gains for the group, including the impact of TFS, to be approximately 4% for the full year. On December 1, SSP announced it had agreed to acquire part of the Stockheim group, a business operating food and beverage outlets in airports and railway stations in Germany. The business had sales of approximately €30m in 2016. The acquisition is expected to complete in early 2018. The new financial year has started well and the pipeline of new contracts is encouraging. Whilst a degree of uncertainty always exists around passenger numbers in the short term, we continue to be well placed to benefit from the structural growth opportunities in our markets.”

Papa John’s franchisee Siddhartha Chirumamilla (pictured) Papa John's franchisee Siddhartha Chirumamilla, who is expanding into Scotlandhas opened two stores – in Falkirk, near Glasgow, and Billericay in Essex – to bring his portfolio to 11, with plans to open more before the end of the year. Chirumamilla, a former mechanical engineer, said: “I first experienced Papa John’s when I was a student delivery driver. I went on to work in mechanical engineering but always wanted to run my own business. I bought my first franchised Papa John’s with the help of an HSBC loan five years ago and the business grew rapidly. I have an experienced business partner, Vamsi Atluri, who runs my multiple Scottish-based outlets, while the rest are in south east England.” Papa John’s franchise sales and business development manager Phil Gaffer added: “We are seeing a growing trend for our franchisees to run multiple operations. There are advantages of economies of scale by running more than one outlet as it offers the chance for expansion using a formula franchisees know works well.” Papa John’s has more than 350 sites across the UK and over 5,000 stores in more than 40 international markets and territories.

Former Salt Yard Group chef director Ben Tish has joined The Stafford London hotel as culinary director with a view to launching new restaurant projects. Tish will oversee the entire food offering at the five-star hotel in St James’s, including The Game Bird restaurant, American Bar, Wine Cellar, private dining, suites and in-room dining. Tish and the hotel will also look to launch restaurant projects in the “near future” that will focus on Tish’s signature style and love of European cuisine. Tish said: “I am delighted to join the team at The Stafford. They had such a great year in 2017 with the launch of The Game Bird.” The Stafford London general manager Stuart Procter added: “We are thrilled to welcome Ben to the hotel. He is an incredible chef and together we look forward to evolving the offering at The Game Bird and across the hotel along with launching exciting projects.” Tish spent his formative years working with Michelin-starred chefs such as Jason Atherton and Stephen Terry. He left Salt Yard Group, where he launched Soho sites Dehesa, Ember Yard and Opera Tavern, at the end of March.

Eagle Eye, the SaaS technology company that validates and redeems digital promotions in real-time for the grocery, retail and hospitality industries, has reported revenue from the food and beverage sector increased 41% for the six months ending 31 December 2017. The company has also secured a contract with Boparan Restaurants as well as renewals with sector companies including Mitchells & Butlers and PizzaExpress as it continued its strategy of “win, transact, deepen”. Total revenue for the period increased 28% to £6.5m compared with £5.1m the previous year. Revenue from subscription fees and transactions over the network represented 75% of total revenue in the period compared with 66% the previous year. The company stated: “During the period, revenue from the food and beverage sector grew by 41% against the first half of last year. As our food and beverage clients enjoy the early stage benefits of our digital marketing platform, there is a trend for them to use it more as a direct marketing channel. As a result, we are seeing increased promotional activity across the sector. In December 2017, Eagle Eye signed a contract with Boparan, (a group owning brands such as Ed’s Easy Diner, Giraffe, Harry Ramsden’s and Fishworks) to deliver digital promotions and gift capability through the Eagle Eye AIR Platform. Through Eagle Eye AIR, Boparan will be able to deliver the same streamlined digital promotion capabilities across its brands to ensure consistent service levels are delivered to all customers. In addition, Eagle Eye will replace all existing paper gift schemes with a digital offering. Additionally, in October 2017, Eagle Eye signed contracts with Scottish fashion chain M&Co and Greene King, the latter further cementing our position in the UK food and beverage market. These contract wins also benefit our brand partners as our extended redemption network provides greater opportunities to run measurable campaigns. We are also pleased to also announce the renewal of three long-standing clients within our food and beverage sector Greggs (five-year contract), Mitchells & Butlers (three-year contract) and PizzaExpress (one-year contract). In all cases the Eagle Eye AIR platform is being used to power an enhanced digital experience for the customer. These renewals reflect the strength of our offering and our lasting client relationships.” Chief executive Tim Mason said: “The group has continued to execute on its strategy, delivering revenue growth in the first half of 2018. During the period we demonstrated good operational progress where we have won new customers and renewed some key contracts, ramped up transactions through the platform, giving an indication of its capacity, and continued to deepen our food and beverage relationships. We look forward to providing a detailed update on the half year’s trading and strategy when we announce our half-year results in March.”

Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars has created a buying department. The team of nine will include category experts in soft drinks, wine and spirits as well as machines, beer and ale and is expected to be fully operational by March. The department will work to procure “keen prices, high levels of service and access to new products” for licensees. In addition, buyers will use their expertise and knowledge to keep licensees abreast of the latest developments and trends in their sectors and provide best practice on retailing products to maximise sales. Agreements will be managed to ensure suppliers deliver “consistent standards and be transparent, with savings passed on to licensees”. The department’s first supplier agreement goes live this month with a new deal on coffee for Star Pubs & Bars’ increased estate of 2,900 pubs. It is partnering with UCC – suppliers to Waitrose, McDonald’s and Greggs – for bean to cup and traditional coffee, and with hospitality specialists K-Fee for capsule coffee to ensure all pubs have a suitable solution. As well as coffee, the deal includes sales-building advice and a three-year, fixed-price agreement that covers machines, installation, training, servicing and repairs. Star Pubs & Bars buying director Steve Dancer said: “The department has a wide remit and will work closely with other areas of the business, from training to marketing, to help licensees create great pubs with retail offers that continue to meet customers’ ever-changing needs. The pub and casual dining markets are increasingly competitive. Consolidation means growing numbers of managed operators are using their scale to improve their offers. For Star, putting greater emphasis on category buying isn’t just about negotiating good prices, it’s about highlighting trends and enabling licensees to take advantage of them quickly to stay ahead of their competitors.”

Domino'sDomino’s Pizza Eurasia, exclusive master franchisee of the Domino’s Pizza brand in Turkey, Russia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, has reported group system sales growth of 32.8% for the year ending 31 December 2017, driven by strong growth in both Russia and Turkey. Turkish systems sales were up 14.2% while Russian system sales grew 169.0%. The company said group online system sales growth of 72.2% continued to outpace the overall system sales growth. Turkish online system sales were up 41.5% and Russian online system sales increased 245.5%. The company stated: “Turkey and Russia like-for-like growth continues to be mainly driven by the group’s online ordering platforms – online delivery system sales as a share of delivery system sales reached 51.8% for the period (2016: 42.4%). A total of 76 new stores were added in the year, bringing the total number to 643, including the 500th Turkish store and the 100th Russian store with Russia now expanding to cities outside of Greater Moscow. Store roll-out for the year in Russia was ahead of management expectations, with 49 additions while Turkish openings were broadly in line. There was a greater skew towards corporate openings than anticipated to take advantage of opportunities in Turkey and accelerate growth in Russia with an associated increase in capital expenditure. Russian commissary expansion was completed, extending capacity to 250 stores. The board expects the full year Adjusted Ebitda for 2017 to be in line with expectations.” Chief executive Aslan Saranga said: “We are extremely pleased with our top line performance for 2017 in both of our main markets of Turkey and Russia. In Turkey, we achieved double digit like-for-like growth, an acceleration from the previous period, and in Russia it was another record breaking year in terms of store openings. We added 49 stores to the estate, including our first stores in St Petersburg and Krasnodar, our first expansion outside of Greater Moscow in Russia. Innovation, both in terms of technology and product, continues to contribute to our growth. We revamped our smart phone apps in Turkey and Russia in 2017, both of which subsequently received industry awards. In Turkey, we have started rolling out our loyalty program. In early 2018, we launched oven baked sandwiches nationwide, after a successful test in the third quarter. In Russia, we introduced our mosaic cake from our Turkish menu to our Russian desert offering as well as the ultra-thin crust pizza offering. Although early days, initial sales have been encouraging.”

Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog will open its second site in Edinburgh, on Friday (26 January). The company has converted a former Clydesdale Bank building in Lothian Road to offer 25 taps of craft beer, BrewDog’s full burger and wings menu and weekend brunch, plus an integrated BottleDog for takeaway beer. The company opened its first venue in the city at a former karaoke bar in Cowgate in 2011. In its blog, the company stated: “BrewDog Lothian Road is a perfect location for us. Directly opposite the Usher Hall in a modern sandstone building, we are right at the heart of everything on the capital’s busiest street. We can’t wait to get the bar open.” Last week was a busy one for BrewDog, it signed a UK distribution deal with Global Brands for its Lone Wolf gin, vodka, and canned gin and tonic drinks, and extended its Equity for Punks V crowdfunding programme until October due to “unprecedented demand”. The campaign has secured £11,852,437 so far from 25,069 investors.

The first Propel Multi Club Conference of 2018 is open for bookings. The full-day event takes place on Wednesday, 7 March at the Grange Hotel, St Paul’s, London. Alex Salussolia, managing director of Glendola Leisure, will talk about the longevity of the company’s three-strong Waxy O’Connor’s brand, which was conceived 25 years ago and is still winning major awards, and the company’s expansion into restaurant and coffee offerings such as Bar & Beef and Gordon Street Coffee. Multi-site operators of pubs, restaurants and foodservice outlets can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele at

The Alchemist general viewThe Alchemist, which is backed by Palatine Private Equity, will open its site in Nottingham next month following a £1.65m investment. The venue will launch in a former Hard Rock Café site in King Street on Saturday, 10 February and will be the brand’s 13th site and first in the East Midlands. The venue will extend over 6,600 square feet across two floors, with the opening creating 80 jobs. The Alchemist managing director Simon Potts said: “We’ve had our sights set on Nottingham for a while and we’re pleased it’s finally come to fruition. Nottingham is a fantastic city and we have secured an amazing location. Overall, the venue feels a perfect fit.” Earlier this month, The Alchemist told Propel it aims to open five or six sites in the next year after securing a £16m finance package from existing debt-funders Santander. The Nottingham opening will be followed by others in Cardiff and Bristol as the company eyes further acquisitions. Potts added: “It’s a real joy to be able to announce positive plans for our continued growth at a time when there seems to be a lot of uncertainty in the sector.” Palatine Private Equity supported a buyout of The Alchemist from Living Ventures in 2015.

Ei Group has unveiled a tailored “Beerista” coffee offerEi Group, formerly Enterprise Inns, has unveiled a tailored “Beerista” coffee offer to help its publicans tap into the UK’s £3.7bn-a-year coffee market. Publicans receive a full audit on their coffee requirements and a recommended tailored solution. The package includes a coffee machine suitable to each pub’s needs, training support, pricing guidance, 100% Arabica coffee and crockery, quality control measures, range suggestions, and marketing collateral. In partnership with manufacturer Fracino, Beerista Coffee Company offers several coffee machines ranging from small-volume capsule types to automated high-volume machines. Ei Group head of food Paul Farr said: “As well as offering Beerista Coffee Company to our leased and tenanted estate, we will roll it out across our Bermondsey Pub Company portfolio. As ever, Beerista is an evolving offer so being able to take key learnings from our managed estate and share best practice with publicans across our wider portfolio adds value to the entire business.” Ei Group’s regional managers have undertaken an extensive training course ahead of the roll-out.

A new all-day Middle Eastern-inspired restaurant will open in Aldgate East, central London, this month. Murat Kilic and Pierre Aprin will launch Amber in Piazza Walk on Monday, 29 January. Taking the ancient amber trade route as inspiration, the new restaurant will offer diners an “authentic, yet modern and refined take on Middle-Eastern cuisine”. The breakfast menu will include whipped feta with dukkah and burnt aubergine with crushed olives. while there will be a set lunch offering and an a la carte menu. The decor will take inspiration from a “midsummer garden”, featuring a palette of dusky pinks and pale greens as a backdrop with ash wood tables and chairs and an array of potted plants. An open kitchen and bar will dominate one side of the restaurant, complete with grill stations and a specialist oven for making crispy pide.

Goodbody leisure analysts have said JD Wetherspoon continues to be their “top pick” in the sector ahead of its second-quarter results tomorrow (Wednesday, 24 January). Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares, they said: “We expect like-for-like sales to be +3.5% year-on-year in the second quarter, compared with the +6.1% delivered in the first quarter. In terms of the margin, we forecast 7.3% in the first half, -40 basis points year-on-year, as the group faces well-flagged cost headwinds in line with the rest of the sector. We also expect an update on the estate and progress towards the guided ten to 15 openings this year. Wetherspoon continues to be our top pick in the sector. It is well placed to outperform in a tougher environment this year due to its lower price point versus peers, strong recent trading momentum, and its mobile order and pay application. Despite this challenging environment, we believe medium-term forecast risk is biased to the upside.”

Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive Kate NichollsThe government is on the right road to protecting late-night venues by agreeing to back the Agent of Change principle, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has said. The principle makes developers responsible for identifying and solving potential sound problems when building near late night and music venues. Secretary of state for housing, communities and local government Sajid Javid has vowed to help strengthen planning policy following a campaign calling for a law change. While it is currently part of planning guidance, it is not compulsory. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls (pictured) said: “It is clearly unfair that venues are required to solve noise issues when property developers have knowingly chosen to build nearby. The ALMR has been urging MPs for some time to recognise that without such a change, many long-standing established venues could be driven out of business, severely damaging the UK’s night-time economy. Music has always played a big part in British culture so we’re happy the government has started on a road to protect such cultural and economic assets.”

Patisserie Valerie, the company that has sector investor Luke Johnson as executive chairman, has launched a 50p discount for customers who use re-usable coffee cups. The company stated on its Facebook page: “Help us make a difference! We want to reduce the amount of paper cups going into landfill and we can only do this with your help. When you bring in a reusable cup you will get 50p off any takeaway hot beverage. Every cup counts.” In November, Patisserie Valerie launched its own re-usable coffee cup. The company opened its first site in Hampstead, north London, in 2005 and now trades from almost 40 Gail’s-branded outlets after growing significantly since Johnson invested in 2011. Its retail operations are concentrated in affluent London locations with high footfall and it has further plans to expand both retail and wholesale operations.

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has called for the government to allow a modest rise in stakes and prizes for pub fruit machines. In its response to the consultation on gaming machines and social responsibility proposals, the BBPA has also asked for an urgent consultation on Category C technical standards to ensure the pub amusement machine can “survive”. Chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “The amusement machine offer in pubs needs to be able to develop to meet the expectations of the consumer and form part of a low stake, low prize entertainment offer. Our proposals to increase both stake and prize should help keep pub amusement machines competitive. The BBPA already has a long-established code of practice to ensure machines are operated responsibly. Operating costs for pubs are under pressure from high beer duty, business rates, the Apprenticeship Levy, and mandatory auto-enrolment pensions for employees. Income from amusement machines can be vitally important in keeping many pubs viable, and an increase in prize for Category C machines would enable pubs to invest in the business and keep an important social resource viable.”

Marston’s has relaunched the Bedford brewery it acquired from Charles Wells in 2017 as Eagle Brewery. In May, Marston’s acquired Charles Wells’ brewery and brand sales interests for a cash consideration of £55m plus working capital adjustments. The Bedford brewery is the home of ale brands Bombardier, Courage and McEwan’s and plans are under way to bring out a range of beers under the Eagle banner. Marston’s said the site in Havelock Street had been “much changed” since the acquisition and has reopened with new beers in the making and the addition of a taproom, shop and visitor centre, while it will also host brewery tours. The company said it chose the name Eagle Brewery because “eagles are Bedford’s historic champions” – the borough bears an eagle on its coat of arms. A company spokesman said: “At the Eagle Brewery we are proud to embrace different perspectives. It means while others may move cautiously, we soar fearlessly. Like the eagle that looks over our brewery, we take a different view.” Marston’s now operates six breweries across the UK, as well as an estate of 1,500 pubs.

The free-of-tie lease of The Magdala Tavern in Hampstead, north west London, has been brought to market by agent Davis Coffer Lyons on behalf of Mulberry One Capital. The landlord is seeking to let the property on a free-of-tie commercial lease, with other terms to be negotiated. The pub in South Hill Park, which consists of ground-floor and basement areas comprising 2,277 square feet, is available in shell condition on a new lease. The pub is opposite Hampstead Heath overground station and half a mile from Belsize Park. It fronts South Hill Park and is close to a parade of shops, restaurants and cafes.

Deliveroo has started trialling a snow fleet in a bid to cater for snowed-in customers in the UKDeliveroo has started trialling a snow fleet in a bid to cater for snowed-in customers in the UK. Skiers, snowboarders and snowmobile-riders have been training at more than 3,000 feet at the summit of the Meall A’Bhuiridh mountain during the past week. In what has been the UK’s coldest winter in five years and with further snow forecast, restaurants signing up to the snow trial include Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Wagamama. Riders will be able to avoid dangerous and blocked roads and make deliveries up to twice as fast as regular ones. The trial will see snow-riders operate until the end of February in areas of the country that are worst hit by snow. Joe Groves, of Deliveroo, said: “The UK is traditionally terrible at coping with snow – as soon as it starts, schools shut, trains stop and the nation panics. We want to give our customers one less thing to worry about this winter. We’re conscious lots of our customers don’t live in cities and can be easily affected by extreme weather conditions. We want to make deliveries possible for those who wouldn’t have dreamed it was possible.” London-headquartered Deliveroo was founded in 2013 by William Shu and Greg Orlowski. It currently operates in more than 200 cities across 12 countries.

Punch has said it intends to cut and ultimately eliminate the use of plastic straws across its 70-strong retail pub estate while encouraging its leased and tenanted pubs to follow suit. Initially, Punch will no longer serve drinks with plastic straws unless requested and will also remove them from view. The company said it hopes to introduce suitable recyclable and re-usable alternatives. Punch managing director of operations Paul Pavli said: “Alongside a number of our peers in the industry, we are committed to reducing the use of damaging plastic straws in our retail pubs and will also be encouraging our circa 1,200 leased and tenanted publicans to join the campaign and benefit from training material and POS to make consumers aware of this very important cause.” Punch will campaign on social media using #thefinalstraw.

Pub18, the only trade show dedicated to the UK pub industry, is to introduce the New Brew Area for this year’s show, which takes place at London’s Olympia on 6 and 7 February. Sponsored by Bar Pong, the area will allow attendees to sample new drinks by the latest brewers and cider-makers including Honest Brew, Cotswold Cider Company, Pillars Brewery, Crafty Nectar and Black Storm Brewery. Pub 18 commercial manager Alex Booth said: “More than three-quarters of those who have registered to visit Pub 18 are looking to discover new beers, ales and ciders.” Speakers at the event will include New World Trading Company managing director Chris Hill and chef Tom Kerridge, while Propel managing director Paul Charity will chair a panel about creating memorable customer experiences. He will also talk to Be At One operations director Andrew Stones, Fuller’s managing director Jonathan Swaine, Brewhouse & Kitchen executive chairman Kris Gumbrell, and Greene King business development manager Yvonne Fraser about the role of staff development in building lasting customer loyalty. For more information on the talks and workshops, visit

Jamie OliverJamie Oliver Restaurant Group has confirmed it will close 12 Jamie’s Italian sites in the UK following a strategic review. The sites that will shut are Bath, Bristol, Bluewater, Chelmsford, Greenwich, Harrogate, Kingston-upon-Thames, Milton Keynes, Piccadilly Diner, Reading, St Albans and Threadneedle Street in London. The company said in a statement: “The Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group has confirmed it is proposing to close 12 UK branches. It follows a strategic review to ensure the business is in good shape for the future. The remaining 25 sites in the UK will be unaffected by this decision and will continue to trade normally. This announcement does not affect Jamie’s Italian franchises managed through Jamie’s Italian International. The Jamie Oliver Media Group and the Jamie Oliver Licensing Group, which are both managed and run separately, are also unaffected.” The closures come on top of the six Jamie’s Italian closures announced a year ago. Those closures reduced the chain from 42 sites to 36 and another has shut since. This resulted in the company reporting a pre-tax loss of £9.9m compared with a profit of £2.4m the previous year after a one-off hit of £10.9m from the closures. The restaurant company was founded by Oliver and Gennaro Contaldo in Oxford in 2008. It grew rapidly into a chain of more than 60 restaurants worldwide and had plans to expand further, but recently it has begun to struggle and AlixPartners was hired in November to draw up a turnaround plan.

ETM Group founders Ed and Tom MartinETM Group, the 13-strong bar and restaurant company, has reported like-for-like sales increased 10.8% for the five weeks ending 31 December 2017, with overall sales up 34.4%. The company said the results were a “clear demonstration of ETM’s transformational year and the positive impact recent change has had on the business”. ETM co-founder Ed Martin said: “We are thrilled with our Christmas and New Year’s Eve results, which included a record week before Christmas where we exceeded £1m in sales. The 34.4% sales growth with carefully managed costs has resulted in a very healthy increase in profit for the period. I would also like to thank our dedicated team for their efforts to deliver this result. 2018 will see continued site roll-out and the development of a new sales division, helping to further drive the group’s performance. With an unmissable year of sport – Superbowl, Six Nations, World Cup, Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup – Greenwood, Broadleaf and Long Arm are looking very promising for the year ahead.” The company said it has instigated its three-pillar brand strategy around “Great British dining, vibrant bars and craft pubs”, which has set in motion a platform for scalable expansion evidenced by Aviary (Finsbury Square) and Greenwood’s (Victoria) first year of successful trading and the encouraging start for Broadleaf, a new bar in the City.

CAMRAThe Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is proposing to widen its appeal beyond traditional pubs and real ale, cider and perry drinkers. The association launched Revitalisation Project, a root-and-branch review of its purpose and objectives in early 2016. CAMRA’s 190,000 members will now vote on proposed changes to the articles of association at its annual general meeting in April. Proposed changes include CAMRA widening the range of drinks it represents to include those that don’t meet its definition of “real ale”, including offering a wider range at its festivals; engaging with drinkers of all types to encourage them to join CAMRA; providing information about all kinds of beer, not just real ale; and recognising a wider range of drinks and establishments in its local and national competitions. CAMRA said the broadening of representation would allow it to lobby for a much wider range of on-trade outlets and give it a wider appeal and “closer connection with modern-day beer drinkers and pub-goers”, which in turn would strengthen its campaigning voice. CAMRA chairman Colin Valentine said: “Our recommendations mark an important stage in CAMRA’s long history. We recognise the beer and pub landscape has changed and continues to evolve, and our place in that landscape has changed as well. We’re determined to make sure we continue to change and evolve so we are relevant to drinkers of all types and continue to offer a compelling reason for people to join our organisation.”

Revolution de CubaRevolution Bars Group, the operator of 72 premium bars across the UK under the Revolution and Revolucion de Cuba brands, has reported for the four-week period from 4 December 2017 to 31 December 2017, that the group’s like-for-like sales were up 5.9%. The company stated: “This strong performance built on last years’ record results when even stronger like-for-like year-on-year growth was achieved. This is the fifth consecutive year that the group has enjoyed record sales in the festive period. Total revenue for the 26 weeks ended 30 December 2017 was £73.7m (first-half FY17: £66.6m), an increase of 10.6%. Four new venues opened during this period; Revolucion de Cuba Belfast in July and Revolutions in Solihull, Inverness and Putney all opening in late December. Given the way the Christmas period fell this year, with New Year’s Eve in the group’s second half, the directors believe that the 27 weeks to 6 January 2018 provides a better benchmark for underlying performance. Like-for like sales during the 27 weeks to 6 January 2018 were up 1.9%, with a 14 week second quarter performance up 3.1%. These results are all the more pleasing as they were delivered against a backdrop of inclement weather mid-month in December and between Christmas and New Year. Interim results will be published on Friday 2 March 2018. The board expects trading results to be in line with its expectations, reflecting continued growth in the number of venues, revenue and profits.” Keith Edelman, executive chairman, said: “I am delighted with our sales performance in the second quarter and over Christmas. This is the fifth year that the group has recorded record results over the key trading period and again demonstrates the appeal of our brands. This excellent result underlines that the group is delivering on its strategy of expanding the two brands whilst continuing to drive like-for-like growth in the core estate.”

American-style barbecue restaurant Grillstock went into administration after owing more than £445,000 to HM Revenue & Customs, a new document has revealed. A report filed at Companies House by administrators Gareth Roberts and Paul Ellison, of KRE Corporate Recovery, showed five-strong Grillstock went into administration following the issue of a winding up petition by HM Revenue & Customs. The report showed Grillstock owed £258,723 in VAT and £187,107 in PAYE and did not have the necessary funds to pay. Draft accounts for the nine months to 27 August 2017 showed the company made a loss of £186,000 on turnover of £1,846,000. For the year ending 27 November 2016, Grillstock made a loss of £314,000 on turnover of £3,130,000. The report showed secured creditor NatWest was owed £199,932 and it is anticipated it would receive £35,964. It has so far received £14,000. The report revealed Grillstock was sold out of administration to a new company called Hedrick, which includes some of the business’ former directors, for a total consideration of £92,000. The sale, which was paid in full at the time of completion last month, was for the Bristol, Bath and Leicester restaurants and the market stall in Bristol and saved about 60 jobs. The deal did not include the company’s Walthamstow restaurant, which the report showed the administrators received a “speculative and ultimately unsustainable” £100,000 bid for the site. After the prospective deal fell through and Hedrick decided it did not want the venue, the Walthamstow restaurant was closed, resulting in all 15 employees being made redundant. The report stated: “Had we not been able to agree terms with Hedrick, we would have had no option but to close the entire business down and make all of the company’s employees redundant. We are satisfied the sale was in the company’s and creditors best interests.” Meanwhile, preferential claims relating to arrears of wages for the former employees of the Walthamstow restaurant are expected to be in the region of £14,000 and should be paid in full.

South east Asian-inspired restaurant Banana Tree, led by William and Anne Chow, has reported turnover for the year to 30 April 2017 increased 12.26% to £10,113,640 compared with £9,008,801 the year before. Ebitda was up 15.87% to £1,416,597 compared with £1,222,548 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. This included exceptional costs relating to previous year, including a credit card balance dating to 2010 and written off from the balance sheet as well as prior years’ service charges for its Islington site and rent free period adjustments for its Milton Keynes and Oxford restaurants, not accounted for in FY2016. Pre-tax profit rose to £893,738 compared with £480,615 the year before. The number of employees at the end of the period increased to 180 from 162 the previous year. Banana Tree currently operates nine sites having opened its latest in Chelmsford, Essex, in September.

Toby Smith, Novus LeisureLondon bar and restaurant operator Novus is to open two new sites this week. The company will launch its third Tank & Paddle site on Wednesday (24 January) in Heddon Street in the West End. The new restaurant and bar, which has more than 130 internal covers and 42 externally, has undergone a £600,000 refurbishment. The Heddon Street site is the third investment into the Tank & Paddle brand over the past 14 months, following two City of London openings in Mincing Lane and Bishopsgate. The concept focuses on hand-stretched pizzas and craft beers served straight from the tank. Novus said both Mincing Lane and Bishopsgate have seen “huge success” since opening, serving an average of 1,700 pizzas and 4,500 pints of Meantime Brewery beer each week. On Thursday (25 January), the company will open its first site in Canary Wharf, with the launch of its 11th Balls Brothers. The new bar and restaurant, which has undergone a £500,000 refurbishment, spans two floors and boasts 132 internal covers. There is also an additional 107 external seats on two terraces. Balls Brothers serves classic British dishes alongside wine and premium spirits. Novus chief executive Toby Smith (pictured) said: “It’s a big week for Novus. We are delighted to be launching our first site in Canary Wharf following the acquisition of the Rocket group in 2017 and taking our love for craft beer and great pizza from the City to open in what is one of the very best sites in the UK.”

Remarkable Pubs, the 14-strong privately owned London-based operator, in association with licensed trade research specialists Service Monitor, of Berkhamstead, has launched a mystery shopper programme that takes advice from mystery guests who visit and only report back on what they believe is important. Remarkable Pubs managing director Elton Mouna said: “So often a mystery shopper is asked to report back on things that he or she would simply not have an opinion on. My team and I are keen to know their ‘top-of-mind’ thoughts and get to the nub of the really important things.” Barry McKeich, of the Service Monitor Group, added: “We will carefully select a customer to visit a Remarkable pub to eat and drink and the following day we will record a telephone discussion where the customer will relay what he or she liked and what could have been better – by providing a purely audio narrative output. The focus will not be on a ‘score achieved’, but rather on what the customer is telling the team.”

Zing ZingZing Zing, the north London-based Chinese takeout concept, has passed the £1m mark on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube – double its original target. The company, founded by Josh Magidson who sold his startup business to Just Eat in 2010, is raising the funds for further expansion in return for an 8.68% equity stake. The campaign hit its £500,000 target within hours of launch and so far 886 investors have pledged £1,030,090 with three days remaining. The largest single investment has been £140,000. The pitch states: “Zing Zing is revolutionising the £1.4bn Chinese takeout industry by offering Chinese cuisine with a modern and healthy twist, cooked fresh to order and delivered fast. We have four units in London. Our revenue in 2016 was £1.23m with Ebitda of minus £300,000 (including a £93,000 spend from our last Crowdcube raise in 2016). We have seen sales grow by 75% to October and are profitable at store level since October.” Earlier this month, Magidson reported record trading on New Year’s Day, with 880 orders taking circa £18,000.

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

Supply Chain Masterclass, which will look at how to achieve best-in-class supply chain efficiency, is open for bookings. The one-day event, launched by Propel in partnership with Food Partners founder and managing director Campbell Askwith, will take place in the Fifth Floor State Rooms at 30 Euston Square, London, on Wednesday, 21 February. The event will pose the question: “Who should be responsible for a restaurant, pub or hotel group’s purchasing strategy?” Askwith will ask a panel including James Nye, managing director of Anglian Country Inns, Christian Hall, finance director of Thai Leisure Group, and John Wood, a former Michelin-starred and world-renowned executive chef and now managing director of Kitchen Cut, who does purchasing best – chef, purchasing manager or outsource? Other speakers will include brand, growth and development strategist James Hacon, who will ask if there is a commercial strategy around “provenance” or whether it’s simply marketing and provide thoughts, facts and recommendations. International business coach Gerard Hargreaves will share his thoughts on how best to leverage the most from your supplier meetings. Tickets are £295 for Propel premium members and £345 for others. To book, email Anne Steele on or call 01444 817691.

Britvic Banner

David Bruce, NITAs 2007

National Innovation in Training Awards

21st November 2017

To view the pictures CLICK HERE


Upgrade Propel Premium and receive:

 The Morning Briefing 12 hours earlier

• Discount on tickets to Masterclass events

• Propel database of 900 multi-site companies

• Digital version of our Propel Quarterly early

• Audio recordings of leading sector executives

• Turnover & Profits Bluebook

To find out more CLICK HERE

Propel Quarterly Winter 2017


The must read sector business analysis and intelligence magazine

To read our latest magazine CLICK HERE