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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators
Thu 19th Nov 2015 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Porky’s BBQ aiming to build ten-strong estate by end of 2017, examines crowdfunding route, eyes first site outside London: Barbecue restaurant Porky’s BBQ is aiming to build a ten-strong estate by the end of 2017 as it prepares to open its fourth site in London next week, Propel has learnt. The company has also exchanged contracts on a fifth site and is now looking at expanding outside the capital into the Home Counties. Porky’s, which opened its first site in Camden in 2013, will open its latest venue in Crouch End, north London, next Thursday. It has invested £150,000 in the St James restaurant in Middle Lane after taking a 15-year lease. The 2,400 square foot site has 86 covers – 78 in the restaurant and eight at the bar. Porky’s has also exchanged contracts to open its fifth site in Fulham Road, Chelsea. The company is spending £50,000 refurbishing the former Portuguese restaurant Fire and Feathers and is expected to open the site in mid-February. It has taken a 15-year lease on the 1,400 square foot site that will have 40 covers. Simon Brigg, who co-owns Porky’s with wife Joy, told Propel the company would start looking for site number six in the new year and is eyeing its first venue outside the capital. He said it was searching for sites of between 1,400 and 3,500 square foot. “We’d like to spread our wings but we don’t want to go too far outside London – at least to start with,” he said. “I think somewhere in the Home Counties is the next step.” All the restaurants so far have been self-funded but Brigg revealed Porky’s was looking at a crowdfunding drive next year that would help finance another two restaurants. He added: “It would be nice to have ten sites. We’re looking at three in 2016 and four in 2017. We haven’t got an end target as such but we don’t want to go on forever and will look to get out at some point in the next three to five years.” As well as Camden, Porky’s currently also has sites in Bankside and Shoreditch.

Industry News:

Capricorn Ventures consider Gourmet Burger Kitchen sale: The owner of Nando’s is exploring a sale of Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK), Sky News has reported. Capricorn Ventures, a South African vehicle, has been holding discussions with advisers about a review of options for its ownership of GBK. The talks are said to be at an early stage and may not lead to a decision to sell the upmarket burger chain, which operates more than 60 sites across the UK. Capricorn acquired GBK’s then parent company, Clapham House, in 2010, and has since grown the chain’s sales and profits as the UK economy recovered from the recession. GBK had turnover of £50,496,000 in the year to 23 February 2014 and underlying pre-tax profit of £1,884,000.

Propel and Elliotts partner for Advanced Marketing Masterclass: Propel is partnering leading sector public relations and marketing firm Elliotts for the inaugural Advanced Marketing Masterclass. The event takes place on Thursday, 14 January at One Moorgate Place in London. It will provide an insight into all aspects of marketing across the sector including how to develop and deliver effective digital initiatives and the best ways to recognise and tell a brand’s story to maximise its PR or social media potential. There will also be the latest insight into consumers’ behaviour to help companies develop marketing strategies around their customers as well as how to brief and work with an agency effectively. The event will feature contributions from Novus Leisure and Brazilian barbecue restaurant Cabana about some of the marketing initiatives they have used to improve results for their business. Elliotts strategy and development director James Hacon will also lead a panel discussion with marketing directors from leading brands. Tickets are priced at £295 for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) members and £345 for non-ALMR members and are available by emailing Adam Dickinson on

JLL – shopping centres to allocate 20% of space to F&B retailers in next decade as eating becomes the new shopping: Shopping centres across Europe will allocate 20% of space to food and beverage (F&B) retailers in ten years’ time as eating becomes the new shopping, according to real estate company JLL. Research by the company found over the last decade, F&B operators have doubled the amount of floor space they take in shopping centres from 7% to 15%. Across Europe, foodservice in shopping centres currently accounts for 15% of the total gross leasable area and JLL predicts this will rise to at least 20% in total over the next decade. Food is now recognised as a key ingredient in encouraging dwell time in shopping centres with figures showing customers who eat during a trip spend on average 27 minutes longer and spend 18% more in overall transactions. JLL also predicts there will be more demand for Asian food operators. Jonathan Doughty, managing director of Coverpoint, JLL’s food consulting business, told Property Week: “In a new online world, experience is king and gastronomy will be the social glue that will hold retail spaces of the future together. The rise in online sales means that consumers are looking for leisure and culinary experiences from their shopping centre visits, as this is something that is still impossible to do online. Well-configured and complementary dining and drinking provision can add real diversity and vitality to major city markets worldwide, and can often boost consumers’ shopping experience and dwell time, as well as giving consumers a reason to keep coming back. This is only set to rise.”

Small Batch Coffee boss – ‘we need to expand our roastery’: Small Batch Coffee chief executive Nigel Lambe has told Propel the company is looking for a new site for its roastery to meet demand. The company, which saw Luke Johnson’s Risk Capital Partners take a majority stake yesterday (Wednesday, 18 November), is roasting seven days a week and is at full capacity – it has circa 200 trade customers and has seen wholesale business grow by 40% in the past year. “We are pretty much at capacity,” Lambe told Propel. The company is looking for a new site that can house roasting machinery with circa five times current capacity. Meanwhile, Lambe reports Small Batch Coffee, which operates seven sites in Brighton, is currently seeing double-digit sales growth. Its flagship site in Jubilee Street has grown sales “by a chunk” every since it opened more than four years ago. The investment by Luke Johnson’s Risk Capital Partners took place after the company approached the entrepreneur – and took just three months to tie down. Lambe said: “He was our only choice (as an investor) based on his record – and he really got what our business was about.” Meanwhile, Lambe said he has now divested himself of his investment in Brighton pub The Urchin in the wake of Johnson’s investment in Small Batch.

Darren Tristano appointed president of Technomic: Darren Tristano has been appointed president of Technomic by its new owner Winsight, which acquired the business in August. Tristano joined Technomic in 1994 and for the past 20 years has overseen its information services division. “Our intent when purchasing the business was to identify opportunities for investment and to organise a leadership team with the vision and skill to make the company even more successful,” said Mike Wood, chief executive of Winsight. “Based on his demonstrated success in growing the information services division, his credibility across the industry and his lasting allegiance to the business, Darren stood out as a natural candidate for this role.” Tristano said: “Those of us who have been at Technomic for a long time are excited for the opportunity to reassess the business and recalibrate it for long term growth, relevance and success. The changes we have made signal the beginning of a new chapter for Technomic, with new leadership, a new organisational structure and new initiatives. The future is full of opportunities for the business, its employees and its customers and now we have a plan to go better serve them. We have such a talented team and the opportunity to fund their ideas for new products, services, and approaches is invigorating. I am honoured to assume this role at such an important time in Technomic’s history. Our teams are motivated, our customers are engaged, and we have great ideas in the pipeline to bring new value to the marketplace.”

London restaurant Indigo to continue with gluten and dairy-free lunch and dinner menu after nobody notices: London restaurant Indigo is continuing with a gluten and dairy-free lunch and dinner menu after nobody noticed the change. Dominic Teague, who is executive chef at the restaurant in Covent Garden’s One Aldwych hotel, worked on his new menu over several months after noticing a “massive uptake in guests who wanted gluten and dairy-free dishes”. Teague, formerly of the Lanesborough Hotel and Marco Pierre White’s L’Escargot, has “experienced first hand” how difficult eating out can be for those with dietary requirements as his wife is intolerant to gluten and his mother to dairy. He launched the menu three months ago, becoming one of the first in the city to have their entire lunch and dinner offerings free from gluten. He told the Evening Standard: “No one has said anything. We didn’t want people to think I was doing this just to be different. I did this for real reasons and it fits into the hotel’s philosophy of health and wellbeing. We were subtle about it. But we are still a luxury hotel. If someone wants a béarnaise with their steak, we’ll do it for them.”

PizzaExpress customers save £50 after website glitch: PizzaExpress customers found a website fault on Monday night meant they could get £50 off online orders. The deal was supposed to be for 50% off, but deal-hunters discovered it was actually giving them £50 off. A user on the HotUKDeals site pointed out the mistake to fellow users on Monday evening. Many were able to take advantage of the deal before it expired: Soulman123 managed to feed his family for just £6.65 – less than the price of PizzaExpress’ cheapest pizza. One customer said: “Four pizzas, two sides and a drink. You have to have a minimum £6 order. £56.65 mine came to, if they process this I will be gobsmacked! All of that for £6.65.” It appears the code may have only been working at selected restaurants, however, as some had their discount codes rejected at the checkout.

NewRiver Retail – pubs are a highly desirable sub-sector of the retail property market: Property developer NewRiver Retail, which has acquired a tranche of pubs from Marston’s and Punch, has described the pub sector “as a highly desirable sub-sector of the retail property market”. It added: “It generates secure long term income streams and offers significant asset management and development opportunities. To date, nearly 50 planning applications have been submitted, 22 receiving approval principally for developments on surplus land adjacent to the trading public house. The company has also identified further value-creating opportunities in its pub portfolio to develop up to 200 residential units on surplus land. In September 2015, the company expanded its pub portfolio through the £53.5m acquisition of a further 158 public houses across England and Wales from Punch. The purchase price reflects a net initial yield of 13.5%, which management expect to generate an attractive cash on cash equity return in excess of 20%.”

Company News:

Chilango passes £2m mark on Crowdcube, reveals international franchising approaches: Mexican brand Chilango has passed the £2m mark on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube as it looks to expand in the UK and overseas and revealed it has had international franchising approaches. The company is offering 3.26% of its equity for £1m – so far, £2,180,290 has been raised from 967 investors with three days left. The largest investment to date is £280,000. Co-founder and co-chief executive Eric Partaker said: “It’s by no means the only large investment we’ve had to date though. In fact more than 50% invested so far has come from investments of £20,000 or more. It’s not just the whole of the UK that we’ve caught the attention of – apparently the success of our campaign, has made its way around the world – resulting in three international franchising approaches, from major experienced franchise players, operating in different parts of the globe. Naturally we’re super excited to explore these opportunities as we progress our UK roll-out.” The pitch states: “Long-term we believe Chilango is a multi-billion pound brand in the making, and we have an incredible group of deeply experienced investors that support us in our vision.” The company has previously raised £2m through a mini-bond on Crowdcube.

CAU to open eighth site of 2015 at MediaCityUK in Manchester next month: CAU, the Argentinian-inspired restaurant brand owned by Gaucho, will open at MediaCityUK in Manchester next month – its eighth site this year. The company is launching the restaurant in Orange overlooking the gardens, and marks CAU’s 16th UK opening to date. The site, which spans just under 3,000 square foot and will accommodate 100 covers, will feature CAU’s trademark corrugated booth seating and sky and grass imagery. CAU managing director Graham Hall told the Manchester Evening News: “We’re very excited to be opening at MediaCityUK, as one of the most distinguished creative and digital hubs in the UK; we think CAU’s style of food, design and service fit perfectly with the scheme and its future.” It is the second site in Greater Manchester for CAU, which opened in Didsbury last month. Cheetham & Mortimer acted on behalf of MediaCityUK and Insight Retail Consulting represented CAU.

Zeh-Noh Group to launch Japanese restaurant concept in London on Monday: Zeh-Noh Group, the business arm of Japan’s largest agricultural co-operative JA, is to launch a Japanese restaurant concept in London on Monday (23 November). The company is opening Tokimeitē, which takes its name from a colloquial Japanese expression describing a sense of anticipation or “butterflies”, in Conduit Street, Mayfair. The 70-cover restaurant will be set over three floors and feature an open kitchen, Josper charcoal oven and robata grill. It will also have a Chef’s Table private dining space for up to eight that will be available shortly after launch. Internationally renowned chef Yoshihiro Murata, who holds a total of seven Michelin stars across his three restaurants in Kyoto and Tokyo, will oversee a modern authentic Japanese menu based on authentic “wa-shoku”, or Japanese cuisine. An extensive range of premium sakes, shochu and whiskies will complement the food. The restaurant has been designed by acclaimed designer Yasumichi Morita and will take inspiration from Japanese festivals, shrines and temples, and the colour palette is based on warm woods, rich browns and golds.

Punch makes £1m co-investment in Isle of Skye hotel: Punch has made £1m co-investment in the Portree Hotel, Portree, on the Isle of Skye. The hotel now boasts 24 en-suite bedrooms, a 90-seat bar and restaurant, and a meeting and function room. The rejuvenated Portree Hotel is now run in partnership with Punch by local businessmen Calum Gillies and Campbell Dickson. Dickson said: “The hotel is looking fantastic, and we have received positive feedback from local residents who are pleased to see the building brought back to life. I have a young, vibrant team in charge and they have some great ideas for driving the business forward, ensuring that we offer something for everyone. But above all, our priority is to provide excellent service and a warm welcome to all.” Punch’s senior partnership development manager Gavin Stevenson said: “Following this joint investment, the Portree Hotel has been transformed into a stylish destination.”

Liverpool-based street food concept Chips A GoGo to open first UK site in city, eyes further expansion:
Liverpool-based street food concept Chips A GoGo is to open its first UK site in the city and is already eyeing further expansion. The concept, launched last year, is opening an outlet in Liverpool ONE and has instructed agent CBRE to source other UK outlets on its behalf. Customers will be given the option to choose the style of chips from sweet to normal fries, sprinkled with a range of seasonings. They can then choose from 20 authentic, home-made toppings varying between creamy mayonnaise to peanut sauce. Chips A GoGo’s UK commercial director Sam Farage told The Business Desk: “After working consistently to improve the concept, we are excited to finally unveil our first unit to Liverpool’s visitors and shoppers. Liverpool ONE is a perfect complement to our brand and this will give the fresh and fast variety that its visitors are looking for. We are now working closely on other locations to bring our vision of quality chips to the rest of the UK.”

Revolution Bars submits plans for Revolucion de Cuba in Aberdeen on site occupied by Wagamama:
Revolution Bars Group has submitted plans to open a Revolucion de Cuba in Aberdeen. The company has lodged a change of use application with Aberdeen City Council to convert three units in the Academy Shopping Centre, reports the Aberdeen Evening Express. One of the units is occupied by Wagamama, which also has a restaurant within Union Square and is due to leave the Academy shortly, while the other two are empty. The units are currently under offer. The Cuban-style bar would offer rums, cocktails and Latin-influenced food. If the change of use application is approved, a licence will be sought by Revolution Bars Group for opening from 10am-1am on Sundays to Thursdays and from 10am- 2am on Fridays and Saturdays. Revolution Bars Group also runs the city’s nearby Revolution bar in Belmont Street.

Longhorns Barbecue to open third site in Sunderland at Camerons Brewery pub: Newcastle-based street food specialist Longhorns Barbecue is to open its third site, this time in Sunderland. The company is opening the venue on the first floor of The Dun Cow pub, which is run by Camerons Brewery under its Head of Steam brand, reports the Sunderland Echo. Longhorns, which specialises in barbecue meats, will open at the pub in High Street West next month. Built in 1901, The Dun Cow’s historic features have earned it a ranking in the Campaign for Real Ale’s list of outstanding historical pubs. It was bought on behalf of the Sunderland MAC Trust last year after it went up for sale for £220,000. Longhorns currently operates two venues in Newcastle, in Mosley Street and Jesmond.

Grillstock signs for new Exeter shopping centre dining quarter scheme: Barbecue restaurant Grillstock is set to open a new site in Exeter. The company has signed up to be the fifth restaurant at the Guildhall Shopping Centre’s new Queen Street dining quarter. The restaurant will face the newly remodelled Market Square, which is set to become one of the focal points of the £12m redevelopment. Grillstock managing director Jon Finch told the Exeter Express & Echo: “Our smokehouse in Market Square will provide the perfect location for barbecue fans to appreciate our distinctive offering of authentic recipes, US beers and our relaxed, communal dining experience.” Grillstock will join Turtle Bay, The Stable – which is 51% owned by Fuller’s, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Artigiano’s craft beer bar The Terrace at the new dining quarter, which is due to open next summer. There will be eight restaurants in total with the remaining three tenants due to be announced in the coming months. Grillstock currently has six restaurants across the UK – in Bath, Walthamstow, Leicester, Liverpool and two in Bristol. It has also secured a licence to open in Cardiff – its first outlet in Wales.

Pub operators to open wine shop: The multi-site owners of The Beckford Arms in Wiltshire are to open a wine shop in Tisbury next month. The Beckford Bottle Shop, which opens on Tisbury High Street in mid-December, is part of a “natural extension” of the business, which has been in planning for six months, director Charlie Luxton told the Drinks Business. Luxton, former operations manager at Soho House, and his business partner Dan Brod, who also worked at the private members’ club, opened upmarket country pub The Beckford Arms in Tisbury in 2009. It was named UK Dining Pub of the Year 2013 by The Good Pub Guide and the pair opened their second venture The Talbot Inn in Mells in the same year, bringing former general manager of Babington House hotel and health club Matt Greenlees on board. Entrepreneur Nick Jones, owner of Babington House and chief executive of Soho House UK, is also an investor and silent partner in the business. The 500 square foot shop will stock 300 wines from around the world along with a range of craft beers and premium spirits.

Harry Ramsden’s to stage first pop-up: Harry Ramsden’s is to host its first “pop-up” at the Great Yarmouth Festive Market this weekend. Over the course of the three-day event, from 20 to 22 November, Harry Ramsden’s will be on site serving a range of limited festive edition items including winter vegetable soup and mulled wine, together with a variety of handheld snacks including hot dogs, fish bites and onion rings for Christmas shoppers to enjoy. Joe Teixeira, chief executive of Harry Ramsden’s, said: “More than any other time of the year, Christmas is a time when families come together. And as a brand which has been serving families for over 85 years, events like the Festive Market in Great Yarmouth offer us an ideal opportunity to be an integral part of the local community and engage with customers – old and new – at this special time.” Harry Ramsden’s outlets in Bournemouth, Scarborough, Eastbourne, Blackpool and Manchester will also be involved in a variety of festive initiatives in their local communities over the coming weeks.

Bespoke Hotels buys County Durham coaching inn: Bespoke Hotels has added a County Durham coaching inn to its portfolio. The George Hotel in Darlington offers 29 bedrooms, a ballroom and function space as well as a restaurant and gardens. The acquisition represents Bespoke Hotels’ first foray into the region, standing alongside a growing collection of inns and guest houses across the UK. “We are delighted to welcome The George to the Bespoke family”, said group chairman Robin Sheppard. “It’s a property I’ve long admired, with an esteemed history stretching back over three centuries, and serves to further extend Bespoke’s coverage across the full length and breadth of the UK.”

Geronimo Inns opens new pub in Spitalfields Market:
Gastro-pub operator Geronimo Inns, which is owned by Young’s, has opened a new pub in the heart of Spitalfields Market in east London. The company, which is in its 20th anniversary year, has launched The Grocer in Crispin Place. The Grocer has a large bar and a covered terrace and is also one of the few gastro-pubs in the area with a large capacity room for private hire. The menu includes black pudding scotch egg, pulled pork and fennel croquettes with pickled salad, and suckling pig meatballs and scotch bonnet chicken wings with whipped blue cheese. There is also a selection of guest ales, beers and fine wines. Geronimo operates nearly 40 pubs in London and Surrey.

Newcastle-based hotel and bar operator launching third site on Saturday: Newcastle-based hotel and bar operator Gainford Group will open its third site in the city on Saturday. The company is launching Japanese-style bar and restaurant Aveika in the former Chase bar building on Newcastle Quayside next to its Vermont Aparthotel, which opened in the summer on the site of former offices. As well as a modern Japanese cuisine restaurant, where food will be served on authentic Japanese crockery custom-made for Aveika, the venue will have a theatre-style sushi bar and robata grill where diners can watch the specialist chefs at work. It also has a cocktail bar and dance area. A spokesman told Chronicle Live: “Our aim has always been to bring life to the Quayside once again.” Gainford Group also owns Bar Livello in Lower Dean Street, which won North East Bar of the Year at the Benevolent Awards, organised by Licensed Trade International.

Boutique hotel Stoke Place enters administration: A boutique 39-bedroom hotel near Slough is set to be sold after its owner and operator entered administration. Rachael Wilkinson and Matthew Callaghan of PwC were appointed joint administrators of Stoke Place Hotel on 9 November. The company owns and operates Stoke Place, a luxury hotel set in approximately 20.5 acres of grounds based in Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire. The administrators said their appointment has not affected trading at Stoke Place, which is “open for business as usual”. They added an agreement has been reached in principle to sell the hotel and the deal is expected to complete within three to four weeks of their appointment. During that time, a third party will be running the hotel under licence on behalf of the joint administrators and working alongside the existing management team.

Chapel Down hits £1m crowdfunding target in bid to build new brewery, extends target to £3.65m: Kent-based Chapel Down’s beer and cider arm Curious Drinks has hit its £1m target on crowdfunding platform Seedrs as it looks to expand the business and build a new brewery. It has now extended its target to £3.65m with fund-raising open to February 2016. The company has seen £1,002,200 pledged from 534 investors and it is now “overfunding” – Chapel Down is offering 5.88% of the equity in the business, producing a pre-money valuation of £16m. The largest investment to date is £345,000. Proceeds from the crowdfunding will be used to construct a state-of-the-art new brewery and visitor attraction in Ashford as well as further strengthen the Curious Drinks team, enhance its domestic and international routes to market and further develop the brand. Chief executive Frazer Thompson said the fund would remain open until it reached £3.65m or the closing date, whichever is sooner. He added Curious Drinks now had the minimum required to get the project moving. Demand for Chapel Down’s beer and cider continues to increase with sales growing at about 40% per annum. Thompson said: “We are delighted with how the Curious Drinks fundraising has gone in its first four weeks and are truly humbled by the phenomenal response we have received. We have seen a huge amount of interest from both customers and individual investors. We believe this is testament to the fact that these are not only great beers and cider but also a worthy investment opportunity, and we hope to welcome many more shareholders to Curious Drinks in the coming months.”

Douglas Jack – we expect to hold our Marston’s forecasts: Numis Securities leisure analyst Douglas Jack has reported he expects to hold his profit forecast for Marston’s when it publishes full-year results on Thursday, 26 November. He said: “The FY trading statement was in line, on which basis we forecast a 14% increase in half two profit before tax. In the three years to 2017E, we forecast 28% growth in earnings growth, with net debt/Ebitda falling by 0.4x over this period despite strong expansion and a progressive dividend, yielding circa 4.5%. Destination and premium like-for-like sales grew 1.8% (food 1.7%; drink 1.7%; accommodation higher) in 2015E, with margins up. This performance was ahead of the pubs constituents of the Coffer Peach Tracker (up 0.8% over the year to September 2015) despite Marston’s having a below-average orientation to London. We forecast 1.8% like-for-like sales in this estate in 2016E. 25 new builds opened in 2015E (eight half one; 17 half two). In 2016E, we forecast 23 new builds, including two sites for Revere. Five of these new builds are expected to have co-located accommodation lodges, up from three in 2015E. In taverns, managed and franchised pubs grew like-for-like sales by 2.0% in 2015E, with like-for-like sales up 3.1% in quarter four. We believe this performance was driven by strong trading in franchise pubs, which account for circa 550 out of almost 900 in the taverns estate. We forecast circa 1.5% like-for-like sales for this estate in 2016E. Leased estate average profits rose 4% and brewing like-for-like own brewed ale volumes were up 5% in 2015E. Due to the successful Thwaites’ acquisition, total brewing volumes were up 15%. Our 2016E forecasts assume 2% growth in leased average profits and 3% growth in brewing like-for-like own brewed ale volumes. Whereas some other pub operators have been writing down asset values, it is worth noting that Marston’s last estate revaluation was announced at the interim results and resulted in a positive net revaluation surplus of £54m. We expect to hold our forecasts (2016E profit before tax £99.0m; consensus £98.6m) and estimate that Ebitda growth/dividends should drive a 25% equity return over the next two years if the 10x EV/Ebitda rating holds.”

Hydes launches new company identity: Hydes has launched a new company logo and new pump clips across a range of its most popular cask ales. The new logo is designed to combine a contemporary feel within the typography whilst simultaneously highlighting the company’s heritage with its founding year, 1863, incorporated into the logo for the first time. Hydes corporate identity was last updated over ten years ago and, while the new look represents a significant change, continuity is achieved with the retention of the company’s traditional gold and black colours. The new look is featured on pint and half pint glasses, drip mats, bar runners, letterheads and company cards. As well as the new logo, all these items also feature a brewing process graphic highlighting the company’s extensive brewing heritage. New company signage schemes have also been created and these will be steadily installed across the company’s pubs as they are developed and refurbished over the coming years. Managing director Chris Hopkins said: “We are delighted with our new look, which reflects our forward looking and ambitious approach while retaining, at its very heart, a great heritage of which we are all very proud.”

Entrepreneur launches pinchos concept with support from Merseyside Special Investment Fund: Leisure entrepreneur Tony Burns has launched a Spanish pinchos concept in Liverpool city centre after securing financial support from HSBC and Merseyside Special Investment Fund (MSIF). Pinch on Castle Street is the latest venture from Burns, who previously owned McGuffies bar on the same street. Pinch sells pinchos, also known as pintxos, which are small tapas-style dishes popular in northern Spain and the Basque country. The menu includes cod fritters with chilli sauce, chicken thighs in spicy Basque ketchup, prawns in hot oil, and mussels in garlic and wine. The business serves breakfasts, light lunches, coffees and alcoholic drinks with an extensive cocktail menu. To support the restaurant, MSIF provided a £25,000 loan through the Regional Growth Fund as part of a £150,000 package that included funding from HSBC and the director’s own investment. The opening of Pinch has created seven jobs, with three further staff expected to be taken on before the end of 2015. Burns said: “After I sold McGuffies I took a year off and went travelling around Europe. When I was in Spain I went to lots of pinchos bars where people can spend hours sitting and just grazing on small bites of food over drinks throughout the evening rather than having a big meal and moving on somewhere else.”

Event caterer takes up permanent residency at Pimlico pub: Independent event caterer Hunter VIII Hunter has launched its permanent kitchen residency at The Rising Sun, a traditional London “local” in Pimlico. Heading up the kitchen is co-founder and executive chef Nicole Richardson, who has worked in some of London’s best restaurants and event caterers. The Rising Sun is a family-owned business that maintains its authentic character and warmth with traditional London pub décor, which features stained floorboards and Victorian illustrations.

Camerons acquires the Eye on the Tyne outlet in Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Camerons has bought the Eye on the Tyne, situated on the Quayside in Newcastle. The deal includes the purchase of the lease from Suffolk-based Greene King, plus the transfer of all current staff, protecting all jobs at the site. The outlet will continue to trade as is for the foreseeable future. Camerons Brewery director and general manager Chris Soley said: “We know what an important social hub the Quayside has always been for the people of Newcastle, and we have been chasing an outlet down there for some time. There are some really good operators on the Quayside, and I fully believe we can run the Eye on the Tyne to further enhance the consumer experience in this area. We inherit a really good team of people and are going to run the pub exactly as it is until we really understand what our customers want. This latest acquisition is one of a number that we are planning over the coming months as part of our five-year plan, which involves growing the pub estate as well as our beer brands”. Soley added: “Camerons is a really exciting place to be; our beer brands are growing at 40%, despite the increased competition from the explosion of new breweries over the last decade. We have invested money in over 75% of outlets in the last 18 months in order to improve our estate which has led to double digit growth in our leased and tenanted division and we’ve also just invested £1.5 million in a new state-of-the-art bottling line that will further develop our business.”

Salisbury Pubs site wins FreeFrom award: The Royal Oak, Marlow, operated by Salisbury Pubs, has won the Pub Restaurant category at the FreeFrom Eating Out Awards hosted at Food Matters Live at Excel in London’s Docklands. They were also runner up in the overall prize, which was won last year by sister pub The Alford Arms at the inaugural awards. The judges said: “There is a world of difference between catering for an allergy with something like a salad, or roast with no gravy, and coming up with a delicious sounding dish that meets multiple needs without compromise on flavour. The Royal Oak hits the nail on the head.” Anthony Worrall Thompson presented the prize to Royal Oak general manager James Molier and head chef Eddie Frost.

Broughton Ales set for expansion after acquisition by trio of drink industry executives: One of Scotland’s leading and original craft breweries, Broughton Ales, situated in the Scottish Borders, is now under new ownership led by three enthusiasts, with over 50 years’ experience in building beer brands. The trio of John Hunt, Steve McCarney and David McGowan, have all spent many years working in senior roles with international drinks groups – Scottish & Newcastle, Heineken and Diageo, where they developed a passion for high quality, authentic beers. Broughton Brewery, which was founded in 1979 – its range includes Greenmantle Ale, Old Jock, Hopopotamus IPA and Blonde Lager. McGowan said: “Broughton has a unique position in Scotland’s beer story, built around fantastic product quality, and a brewery in one of Scotland’s most picturesque locations. We are inheriting a wonderful range of beers, from traditional brands like Old Jock to the innovative Hopopotamus. On our first visit, we were struck by the numerous quality awards from a variety of organisations, including CAMRA, SIBA, regional festivals and supermarkets – literally there isn’t enough space on the walls to display them all. We want to build on the reputation for quality, work with our customers, and ensure Broughton is at the forefront of Scotland’s beer resurgence.” The new owners plan to invest in developing the business to realise its potential in the fast growing and evolving craft beer market in Scotland.

ALMR National Restaurant Association Study Tour to Chicago opens for bookings: The Propel and Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) 2016 Chicago Study Tour is now open for bookings. The trip, sponsored by CPL Training and Sky, takes place between Thursday, 19 May and Monday, 23 May 2016. The National Restaurant Association (NRA) draws 58,000-plus industry professionals from all 50 states and 100 countries, seeking the newest innovations and up-to-the-minute information about trends and issues. The ALMR trip provides: insights from industry experts on the rise in fast-casual dining, social media, new and emerging brands, menu development, staff management and a host of other issues – with 70 free education sessions at the NRA show. It also involves two tours of Chicago’s hottest concepts and a market overview briefing sessions from US experts. Paul Charity, managing director of Propel Info, said: “The NRA show combined with our tour of Chicago is a fantastic opportunity to find fresh inspiration and understand the emerging trends shaping the fast-changing US market.” To get more information or to book, email

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