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Wed 29th Mar 2017 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

SA Brain reports turnover and profit growth: Cardiff-based brewer and retailer SA Brain & Co has reported operating profit increased by 23% to £5.5m as turnover grew by 7% to £135m for the year ending 1 October 2016. Sales increases were largely driven by continued growth of the group’s Coffee#1 business, which grew by 28% following the opening of 14 new stores and underlying growth in existing stores during the year. The company’s managed pub estate grew by 3% in total compared with the previous year, and by 1.5% on a like-for-like sales basis, outperforming the overall national pub market by about 0.8%. More than £6m was invested in the company’s managed pubs, including £1.2m in The Dock in Cardiff Bay. Sales were boosted by a 5% growth in food. Pub operating costs were 0.5% lower than prior year, despite continued investment in staff development, marketing and the additional costs resulting from the introduction of the National Living Wage. Coffee#1 was named coffee chain of the year at the Café Life Awards for the seventh time in eight years. Underlying sales across the leased and tenanted pub estate were down by little more than 1%, while rationalisation continued with the sale of 13 commercially unviable pubs. The year saw the introduction of the company’s progressive new letting agreement, tenant support packages and pricing initiatives. 13 new agreements were signed during the year and six major pub redevelopment schemes were undertaken, helping to build momentum in the division. Sales of Brains’ portfolio of ales followed a wider consumer trend for more moderate alcohol consumption, with sales of Brains beers down on the prior year. However, The Rev James range, comprising Original, Gold and Rye, continued to grow, with sales increasing 20% in the year. Total volume through the brewery increased by 8%, mainly driven by contract brewing for Heineken. This contract came to an end in March 2017. Chairman John Rhys said: “The year saw good progress being made across many of the fundamental areas of the business and it is encouraging to see the significant improvement in operating profit. We invested significantly in the fabric of our managed pub estate at a level ahead of our business plan to continue to improve our guests’ experiences. Through our new agreements and an enhanced level of investment in our leased and tenanted pub estate, we are now seeing real growth potential, while Coffee#1 expanded further in terms of store numbers, sales and profit contribution.” Chief executive Scott Waddington added: “A wide number of initiatives were undertaken across the business during the year as we implement our five-year plan. I have been pleased with the progress in the last 12 months and delighted by the customer reaction to our pub developments, coffee shops, new food offers and beers.”

Industry News:

Last chance to book for Advanced Social Media Masterclass: The Propel Advanced Social Media Masterclass is open for bookings. Held in association with Digital Blonde founder Karen Fewell, other speakers will include Digital Blonde social media manager Nicola Proud, who will revisit effective social media campaigns with a special focus on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter, delving into what success looks like across each platform and how to avoid potential pitfalls. Steve Ward works as a talent attraction strategist, helping businesses to become a magnet for the talent they want. He will explain how to recognise, recruit and retain top social media talent to ensure the right person or people take charge of your social channels. Sarah McGhie, who has years of PR experience in the pub, bar and hospitality sector, will talk about the power of PR and how this can amplify your social media success, and vice versa. She will also discuss how to avoid the pitfalls of an “always on” approach with regards to reputation management, and when to pick your fights and when to walk away. Click here to see the full programme. The full-day event takes place on Friday, 7 April at One Moorgate Place, London EC2R 6EA. Tickets for the event are £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium members and £345 plus VAT for non-members and can be booked by emailing anne.steele@propelinfo.com or calling 01444 817691.

Propel launches US Restaurant Franchise Forum: Propel has partnered with World Franchise Associates to launch the US Restaurant Franchise Forum. The event, which takes place on Friday, 28 April at One Moorgate Place in London, will see leading US operators present to their UK counterparts about franchise opportunities in Britain. The first five high-profile US foodservice franchisors to present at the event have been confirmed as Panda Express, the largest Chinese quick-service restaurant (QSR) chain in the US, with 1,800 sites; Little Caesars, which is the third-largest pizza QSR restaurant chain in the US, with 4,250 sites; Wingstop, the fastest-growing US QSR chicken brand, with 1,000 sites; Wienerschnitzel, the largest hotdog QSR brand in the US, with 350 locations and fast-emerging Indian QSR/fast-casual brand Chutney’s Indian Grill. Registration for the event is from 9am to 10am. It is for operators only with tickets priced £65 plus VAT. To book places, email anne.steele@propelinfo.com or call 01444 817691.

Star Pubs & Bars joins SIBA’s Beerflex scheme: Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars has joined the Society of Independent Brewers’ (SIBA’s) Beerflex scheme to offer its licensees a wider choice of local cask ale. Star licensees who operate Cask Marque-accredited pubs will be able to order cask ale brewed by Beerflex participants within a 30-mile radius of their venue. With 550 brewers producing more than 3,000 beers, Beerflex will complement Star’s Discover Cask programme and enable its cask ale-focused pubs to increase their specialisation. To encourage participation in Beerflex, Star will help fund and support licensees wanting to gain Cask Marque accreditation. The deal comes after Heineken confirmed it would work with SIBA to ensure Punch tenants continued to have access to a range of beers from small independent breweries should its bid to buy 1,900 pubs succeed. Star Pubs & Bars operational commercial strategy director Mick Howard said: “The SIBA scheme will sit alongside our strong portfolio of leading brands and extensive third-party cask beer offering. It will ensure licensees have access to a wider range of quality beers from small, local, independent breweries. Heineken is a passionate supporter of the great British pub and is constantly looking for ways to deliver business benefit for our licensees and a great pub experience for consumers. This partnership with SIBA is another way we are ensuring our pubs remain relevant, innovative and successful and play their part in the heart of communities.” SIBA managing director Mike Benner added: “It’s a win-win partnership providing more choice for pub customers, improved access for local brewers and a great beer offer for Star licensees.” Meanwhile, SIBA announced its BeerX 2017 event, which took place in Sheffield earlier this month, recorded its biggest attendance since launching in 2013. Delegate attendance rose 59% compared with last year, with member visits up 69%, trade stand sales up 19%, and an 11% increase in footfall at the BeerAlive! festival.

SBPA appoints Punch operations director Brian Davidson as president: The Scottish Beer and Pub Association (SBPA) has appointed Punch operations director for Scotland Brian Davidson as its new president, succeeding Diageo’s Mark Baird, who steps down after a year in the role. Davidson said: “The Scottish beer and pub industry supports almost 60,000 jobs and contributes over £1.7bn to the economy of Scotland every year. As president, I will continue Mark’s work to ensure the Scottish beer and pub industry’s priorities remain at the top of the policy agenda in Scotland.” SBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds added: “Brian brings a wealth of experience in the Scottish pub trade to his new role as president of the SBPA, which I am sure will benefit the association greatly. I would like to thank Mark Baird for all his work for the past year and for his many years of support while at Diageo, particularly around social responsibility initiatives.”

New restaurants planned as part of bowling alley extension at Bristol retail and leisure complex: New restaurants are planned as part of a development of the Avonmeads retail and leisure complex in Bristol, including expansion of the existing bowling alley. Reef Estates has lodged proposals with the city council covering the redevelopment of the bowling alley and areas of the car park at the site. It is proposing a mixed-use leisure and entertainment scheme comprising a new hotel and three restaurants. Travelodge has already agreed terms to occupy the hotel, which would feature 75 bedrooms. The existing Hollywood Bowl would also be reconfigured and extended with a new entrance to the alley, restaurants at ground floor and the hotel above. The scheme represents an investment of £8m. A planning statement submitted as part of the application said: “The hotel will form part of the wider plans to upgrade the tired bowling facility and introduce new restaurants to the park, which will serve to reposition the park, ensure it remains an attractive destination to visit and attract new customers.” The Avonmeads complex is home to tenants including Marks & Spencer, McDonald’s, Boots and Krispy Kreme. A 14-screen Showcase Cinema is located to the north of the site, reports Insider Media.

BBPA welcomes proposed changes to Neighbourhood Planning Bill: The British Beer & Pub Association has welcomed proposed changes to the Neighbourhood Planning Bill that will prevent pubs from “being disadvantaged”. Chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “We had been very concerned that food-led pubs would have been disadvantaged by the House of Lords’ original amendment. But the vote, on an alternative proposal from the government, means pubs will remain in the A4 use-class, rather than being placed in a class of their own. This will ensure they have a specific right to extend the restaurant use of the pub without requiring planning permission. I hope local authorities will also note that the new legislation should also remove any incentive for them to pursue Article 4 directions and for Asset of Community Value ‘mass listings’. This would also be a very positive step for our members.”

Company News:

Red’s True Barbecue sees turnover pass £10m, enters refinancing talks after breaching banking facility since year-end: American smokehouse chain Red’s True Barbecue has reported turnover surged past the £10m mark following a series of new openings but added it is in refinancing talks after breaching a banking facility since the year-end. The company, founded by James Douglas and Scott Munro, saw turnover increase 58% to £11,257,416 for the year ending 31 March 2016, compared with £7,121,479 the previous year. The increase was driven by new site openings in Shoreditch and Liverpool. Since the year-end, restaurants have also opened in Sheffield and Newcastle, taking the total number of sites to eight. The company said it intended to continue to open restaurants as long as sites could be secured that met its return on investment criteria. Ebitda fell to £561,949 compared with £610,219 the year before, according to accounts filed with Companies House. Pre-tax losses increased to £659,853, compared with a loss of £183,037 the previous year. The company also revealed it had breached a banking facility and attention was also drawn to the current level of bank debt. Despite the breach, the company’s banking partner issued a letter of support indicating it intended to “continue to make funding available”. Red’s True Barbecue has started discussions to restructure its banking facility, which were said to have been met with a favourable response when the accounts were signed off last week. The company stated: “To continue the stated roll-out plans for the business, the directors believe additional equity funding will be required and a new debt facility will also be required. The directors believe that, as long as the forecast levels of trade are achieved, the business will be able to access this debt and equity funding. In the absence of such funding the business will need to renegotiate current debt facilities to ensure the repayment profile for the current borrowings match the future cash generation of the business. The directors have initiated discussions with their bank with a view to restructuring their current debt facility. These initial discussions have met with favourable response from the bank, although confirmation of this restructuring will be dependent on the business continuing to be cash generative.”

Wahaca reports £10m turnover boost: Mexican restaurant brand Wahaca has reported turnover increased to £46,376,000 for the year ending 26 June 2016, compared with £36,208,000 the year before. The company, founded by 2005 MasterChef winner Thomasina Miers and Mark Selby, saw pre-tax profit fall to £640,000 compared with £1,461,000 the previous year, primarily due to a one-off event held to celebrate the Day Of The Dead festival and pre-opening costs on six new sites, according to accounts filed at Companies House. The company stated: “The increase in turnover was due to organic growth from the existing estate and the six new sites opened during the period. Despite a healthy increase in profit from our sites, the group profit before tax decreased primarily due to a one-off event held to celebrate the Day Of The Dead festival, pre-opening costs on new sites and from additional depreciation from new sites. The number of employees during the year has grown from 791 in 2015 to 1,008 in 2016. The group’s strategy is to continue to roll-out sites in the UK, where it considers there is a significant opportunity to expand into new areas. The group also plans to continue to invest in its overhead cost base ahead of time to ensure the growth plan is well supported. The group will continue to aim to deliver a high-quality experience in its restaurants for its customers and will continue to track performance between its sites using its mystery diner rating programme. The group also plans to continue to drive a culture of innovation, which allows it to challenge the status quo and ensure it is continually able to provide its customers with new and exciting experiences. The group plans to develop growth through the opening of new sites as well as continually driving performance on the existing estate.” Wahaca opened its first site in 2007 and now has 26 venues in the UK.

Gaucho to open first eponymous UK restaurant in seven years, in Birmingham: Gaucho is to open its first eponymous UK restaurant in seven years, in Birmingham. The company, which also operates Argentinian-inspired brand CAU, will open the site in Colmore Row in the heart of the city’s business district. The 120-cover, ground-floor restaurant and bar will launch on Monday, 8 May. As well as offering a full range of dining options, the venue will offer beef and wine masterclasses. Its design will reflect that of the company’s flagship restaurant in Swallow Street, Piccadilly, which received a new look last year. The inspiration comes from ombu – giant trees that are a striking feature of the Argentine landscape. Gaucho Group chief operating officer Tracey Matthews said: “This is our first opening in the UK for seven years and is an incredibly important decision in the development of Gaucho. We have to be sure a city is ready to receive a Gaucho, and having looked at locations around the UK we decided Birmingham, with its exciting growth potential, is the perfect home. We are perfectly positioned to maximise both business and leisure dining, and our private dining facilities and events capacity will offer something fresh to the Birmingham restaurant scene.” The Gaucho restaurant will be the company’s second in Birmingham following the launch of CAU in Brindleyplace last year.

Jamie Oliver officially buys back Jamie’s Italian portfolio in Australia with new menu on the way: Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has officially bought back the Jamie’s Italian restaurant portfolio in Australia from Keystone Hospitality Group for an undisclosed sum. Oliver will visit Sydney in May to launch a new menu for the six Australian restaurants and meet local suppliers and producers. New items on the menu will include wild porcini ravioli, oxtail and chianti lasagne, and “wobbly” vanilla yogurt panna cotta. There are also plans for fresh pasta to be made daily on-site. Oliver told Australia’s Daily Telegraph: “This is a process I’ve never been through so it’s all very new but it’s a really happy ending. I believe in Australia and I’m invested in it in so many ways.” Ben Shaughnessy, managing director of The Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group Australia, added: “The purchase has put us in a fantastic position to invest even more into our people and restaurants to deliver a world-class Jamie’s Italian experience in Australia.” The six restaurants were put up for sale in July last year when Keystone Hospitality Group was placed into receivership with debts of $80m. Oliver was said to be outraged at having his name and branding associated with the collapse. As part of the buyout, Jamie’s Italian Trattoria in Parramatta will be rebranded to Jamie’s Italian, joining the other venues in Sydney, Perth, Canberra, Adelaide and Brisbane.

Beannchor Group reports jump in pre-tax profit to more than £9m following turnover boost: Northern Ireland hospitality company Beannchor Group has reported a jump in pre-tax profit to more than £9m following a boost in turnover. The company saw turnover increase 3.7% to £19,237,993 for the year ending 30 June 2016, compared with £18,544,987 the year before. Pre-tax profit leapt to £9,027,513 compared with £2,507,686 the previous year, according to accounts filed with Companies House. The company stated: “Competition in the market place remains strong. That said, turnover increased by £693,006 (3.7%) in the year to 30 June 2016. Operating profit decreased from £3,358,377 in 2015 to £3,162,687 in the year to 30 June 2016. The directors consider the results for the year to be satisfactory. The external commercial environment is expected to remain competitive in 2016. While the directors expect a difficult trading year ahead, they will continue to seek every opportunity to increase turnover and operating profit where possible.” Beannchor Group owns pubs, hotels and restaurants across Northern Ireland, including National Grande Cafe/sixty6 and The Dirty Onion as well as six Little Wing Pizzeria sites.

Camerons Brewery sells Newcastle live music venue to former manager: Julian Ive, who was manager of the Cluny live music venue in Ouseburn, Newcastle, from 2005 to 2016, has acquired the site from Camerons Brewery. Ive will operate the venue, which Camerons took over as part of its Head of Steam acquisition in 2014, under his company Mi Viejo Fruta, with all scheduled bookings to go ahead as planned. Camerons Brewery chief executive Chris Soley said: “The operation of managing more than 400 gigs a year requires a specialist management team and we feel the team at Mi Viejo Fruta will be able to deliver this to ensure the Cluny maintains its reputation of being one of the key music venues in the north east. We will continue to supply the business with an extensive beer, cider, spirits and wine range and will work closely with the management team. We will look to invest the funds in the development of new venues in the UK.” Ive added: “The Cluny is already the finest small venue in the north east and I intend to build on that legacy and create a cultural hub, serving first-class food and drinks. I would like to thank Camerons Brewery, in particular John Foots and Chris Soley, for making this deal happen and I look forward to maintaining my relationship with them for many years to come.” Formed in 2002, Camerons’ growing pub estate consists of more than 70 venues.

Danish baker Ole & Steen and Vagabond secure sites at Nova Victoria: Danish baker Ole & Steen and London-based independent wine bar Vagabond have secured sites at the Nova development in Victoria. Ole & Steen will launch its second UK site at the complex in early April while Vagabond is now open. Ole & Steen was founded by Ole Kristoffersen and Steen Skallbaek, well known for their bakery chain Lagkagehuset in Denmark, which has more than 50 locations. The new site follows its UK debut in St James’ Market in December, and features an all-day menu of freshly baked breads, stews, soups and sandwiches. Vagabond was founded by Stephen Finch in 2010 and has now grown to five sites across the capital. The brand actively sources wines from well known regions. Shelley Sandzer advised Ole & Steen and Vagabond on the deals. Leo Feldman, from Shelley Sandzer, said: “Ole & Steen and Vagabond are two fantastic additions to the vibrant food and drink scene in Victoria.”

Carluccio’s continues roll-out of ‘new generation’ model with York opening: Carluccio’s has continued the roll-out of its “new generation” model with an opening in York. The 168-cover restaurant, shop and delicatessen has opened in a grade II-listed building in St Helen’s Square in a space that used to house a Terry’s chocolate shop and TSB bank. Original features such as confectionery cabinets, timber-panelled walls and brass lighting have been retained and contrast with contemporary furniture and modern artwork. The grand staircase leads to a first-floor deli bar and balconies overlooking the square. The ground-floor Terry’s Bar pays homage to the chocolatier and offers a new selection of cocktails, an Italian wine list, craft beer and prosecco. Carluccio’s new generation restaurants offer signature dishes celebrating modern twists on Italian classics. The venue also features Carluccio’s new pizza menu, as well as offering coffee and pastries during the day, and sells Antonio Carluccio’s range of regional Italian products and cookbooks. The new generation concept launched in Derby last year.

Ei Group launches digital tools for existing and prospective licensees: Ei Group’s leased and tenanted division Ei Publican Partnerships has launched two digital tools designed to help existing publicans run their business while attracting new talent into the trade. The Publican Channel is aimed at providing existing publicans with access to advice, training, point-of-sale items, and deals, as well as allowing them to place orders online. The new online “applicant dashboard” will allow prospective publicans to build a profile outlining their aspirations, while they can also search for suitable pubs and manage their application process. Both innovations are compatible with a range of devices, including smartphone and tablet. Ei Group recruitment and marketing manager Matthew Ralphs said: “As part of our ongoing commitment to ensure our publicans have the support they need, in the format they want it, we have invested significantly to ensure these platforms are full of information and support while being easy to navigate. The publican profiles are a significant development for the business and will become a valuable database of potential future publicans. Even if we don’t have the perfect pub in the area at the time, we’ll be able to use our segmentation tool to match pubs that become available. It’s an exciting innovation.”

Cornish bakery WC Rowe acquired by Luxembourg-based investment firm: Cornish bakery WC Rowe, which has stores and supermarket concessions across the south west, has been acquired by a Luxembourg-based investment firm for an undisclosed sum. WC Rowe was founded in 1949 and currently trades from 16 stores and five branded concessions in Asda and Tesco across the region. The company reported turnover of £17.4m in its most recent accounts, covering the year to 2 January 2016, and a pre-tax loss of £207,566. It employs about 350 staff. The company has been bought by Iberia Industry Capital, which specialises in acquiring and developing companies with significant but untapped potential. Iberia Industry Capital said it believed WC Rowe’s network outlets and national coverage through supermarkets and independent retailers would be a springboard to future growth. WC Rowe’s senior management team will remain in place following the deal as the business undergoes a period of development and expansion, reports Insider Media.

Bao and pickle cafe Bun House launches in Soho: Bao and pickle cafe concept Bun House has launched in Soho. The diner in Greek Street offers traditional, Canton-style bao buns and pickles made in-house. Bun House also offers homemade “house fries”, which are made from deep-fried duck tongues rather than potatoes. The venue only has room for ten covers, mainly focusing on grab and go. The menu features steamed buns under the straightforward titles pig, lamb, chicken, fish, veg, red choc and custard, with seven accompanying pickles and small plates including chilli tripe and glass noodle salad. Craft beer from Hong Kong tops the drinks list, while the Tea Room cocktail bar will open below the restaurant – with its own entrance and 3am licence – offering food from the main menu until late. The concept is the brainchild of Alex Peffley and wife Zee. He said: “London is my favourite place to eat in the world but there are a lot of foods we grew up with or tried while travelling that are poorly represented here.”

Chipotle claims to be only US restaurant brand to eradicate added colours, flavours and preservatives: Chipotle Mexican Grill has claimed it has become the only restaurant brand in the US to eradicate added colours, flavours and preservatives in any of the ingredients it uses to prepare its food. Chipotle’s claim does not include beverages but its switch to “clean” ingredients comes at a time when fast food brands are scrambling to clean up their acts as consumers turn away from processed foods and foods with added colours, flavours, preservatives and other industrial additives. However, Chipotle said almost every other fast food chain had chosen the easier path of simply switching from artificial flavours and colours to “natural” versions of additives that serve the same purpose. Some fast food companies have gone so far as to designate the preservatives they use as “natural” even though nearly all preservatives identified in US Food and Drug Administration rules are known as “chemical preservatives”.

Michelin-trained chef to launch chicken and liquor concept in London: Texan Ashley James, who trained under Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens, and Tennessean Jordan Harris will launch chicken and liquor concept Stagolee’s in Fulham, south west London, on Wednesday, 5 April. The venue in North End Road will offer “quintessentially southern American food and liquor”, specialising in fiery hot chicken and bourbon, with staple dishes such as skillet-fried chicken, hot spinach dip, and baked mac ‘n’ cheese. Stagolee’s drinks menu will include liquor, beer and cocktails inspired by US southern states, including a range of moonshine.

Caprice Holdings agrees deal to open Ivy brasserie in Marlow: Caprice Holdings, owned by Richard Caring, has agreed a deal to open an Ivy brasserie in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. The company has signed a 25-year lease for an empty unit in High Street and will open Ivy Marlow Garden this spring. The unit is undergoing extension works to allow for a 100-cover restaurant and garden with outdoor seating for all-day dining. Commercial developer Sorbon Estates acquired the property and secured consent to extend in March last year and obtained A3 use for the unit in August. Chris Naylor, director of asset management at Sorbon Estates, told Insider Media: “With The Ivy’s interest we explored extending the property into the rear walled garden and securing a high-class restaurant use to support a vibrant High Street and complement the existing restaurant offering in Marlow.” Caprice Holdings is continuing its expansion of the Ivy brand having previously secured two sites in Surrey – in Cobham and Guildford – to go alongside its brasserie in Tower Bridge and an Ivy cafe in Richmond.

Juan Santa Cruz brings Isabel concept to Mayfair: Restaurateur and designer Juan Santa Cruz has brought his Isabel small plates concept to Mayfair. Santa Cruz launched his first restaurants – Casa Cruz, Isabel and Aldo’s – in Buenos Aires, Argentina, before bringing Casa Cruz to London in 2015 with an opening in Notting Hill. Isabel has now opened in Albemarle Street at the former Sumosan site, with staff wearing uniforms designed by Colombia’s Johanna Ortiz. The venue offers two floors of eating and drinking, with an art deco-inspired design and a 1970s vibe. The small plates at Isabel focus on modern European food with Argentinean influences, including Santa Cruz’s blackened chicken, Hot Dinners reports. The venue has a bar and dance floor downstairs, with DJs after 10pm. Santa Cruz’s eponymous company employs a team of designers and consultants working from London and Buenos Aires.

JD Wetherspoon launches £2.6m Essex pub and hotel, reopens Southampton site: JD Wetherspoon has opened its £2.6m redevelopment of a former Co-op site in the Essex seaside town of Dovercourt (population 9,600), transforming it into a pub and 13-bedroom hotel. The Bottle Kiln has opened in Kingsway, creating 45 jobs. The Wetherspoon websites states: “The site, originally an old mill, now benefits from a £2.6m conversion into a spacious pub, boasting a large garden to the side and 13 en-suite bedrooms.” Meanwhile, the company has reopened The Red Lion in Bitterne, Southampton, following a £1.6m refurbishment. Wetherspoon purchased the pub in August 2015. Natalie Owens has been working for the chain for 15 years and has come to manage the pub from The Wagon Works in Eastleigh. She said: “It’s the building of relationships I want to develop and I hope other businesses in Bitterne follow suit and we can form some great partnerships. We want to be at the heart of the community.”

Glasgow-based restaurateurs open third site in city: Glasgow-based restaurateurs Kevin Campbell and Toni Carbajosa have opened their third site in the city. The duo have launched restaurant and bar Mezze, which is at the top of the Rotunda complex with views across the River Clyde. It offers seafood dishes, chargrilled meat and kebabs influenced by Greek, Cypriot, Ionian island and Turkish cuisine, with a mixture of small and large plates designed for sharing. The 60-cover restaurant features postcard-blue walls, booths, and whitewashed tables and chairs. The bar area is set under a Santorini-inspired domed ceiling. Campbell told Glasgow Live: “Modern Greek and Mediterranean cuisine is making waves at the moment. Sharing is a culinary tradition and we want our guests to experience the magic of Mezze and feel as if they’ve stepped into the warmth of the Aegean sea.” Campbell and Carbajosa also own Greek-Cypriot restaurant Halloumi and Rioja tapas and cocktail bar in Finnieston.

Douglas Jack – Fuller’s has a stable core with scope to reach new frontiers: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has said London brewer and retailer Fuller’s has a stable core with scope to reach new frontiers. Issuing an ‘Add’ note on the shares with a target price of 1,100p, Jack said: “Fuller’s like-for-like performance and earnings revisions have been upward over the past year. This has been achieved amid declining consumer confidence and no growth in inbound tourist expenditure. Commentators often attribute Fuller’s success to its London orientation but it is materially outperforming the London pub constituent of the Coffer Peach Tracker. In our view, Fuller’s managed pub outperformance is being driven by investment in the estate, high training standards, and a constantly improving premium, differentiated product range. The leased/tenanted pubs have a track record for above-average like-for-like profit growth, despite being less reliant on estate churn than its peers. Fuller’s breweries have strong beer/cider brands that are integral to the success and culture of the company as well as being a source of strong cash flow. We estimate Fuller’s Ebitda margins are circa 500 basis points below those of its freehold peers for site-level managed pubs/hotels’, and circa 300 basis points below in the case of the leased/tenanted pubs. We believe this reflects Fuller’s greater investment in staff and higher business rates but it is also the result of less scale, which implies material upside if Fuller’s is acquisitive. Fuller’s certainly has the balance sheet to be acquisitive. We forecast its net debt/Ebitda ratio to fall to 2.3 times in 2019E, a low level for an 88% freehold, London-orientated estate. Our forecasts are below consensus in 2018E. However, stronger managed like-for-like sales growth (from our 2% per annum assumption in 2018E and 2019E, aided by record levels of refurbishment) and incremental expansion (from our assumption of six new sites per annum in 2018E and 2019E) are two sources of potential upside for our forecasts. We believe Fuller’s valuation is supported by an above-average upgrade track record, a strong asset base and a low level and cost of debt. Despite this, our target price cautiously assumes no re-rating.”

Merseyside-based operator Almond Bar opens second West Derby venue: Merseyside-based operator Almond Bar is opening a second site in West Derby Village. 51 Mill Lane, named after its address, will be a sister site to nearby Almond Restaurant & Bar, offering a sharing menu comprising a selection of small plates and tapas-style dishes alongside cocktails, spirits and pale ales. Almond Bar managing director Kate Dunn told BDaily: “Our new eatery will combine a bar, kitchen and garden to allow for a casual dining experience with a vibrant atmosphere. With avid foodies in mind, our kitchen team is working hard to devise an eclectic offering with worldwide influences. To complement this, we will also pay homage to our roots by serving an assortment of nostalgic, quintessentially British favourites.”

London-based healthy Asian restaurant Taoo goes on market: London-based healthy Asian dining restaurant Taoo has been put up for sale. The leasehold of the restaurant, which opened in February last year in London Wall, is being marketed by agent Christie & Co. Located between Liverpool Street and Moorgate stations, it serves a range of traditional dim sum dishes such as steamed buns, dumplings and other hot and cold items and set meals. Christie & Co business agent Will Langton said: “This is a rare opportunity for an experienced operator to acquire a brilliantly located site on a renewable lease. There are several branded operators nearby such as Vital Ingredient, Pod, Wasabi and Chilango and with the consistently high passing trade in one of London’s busiest areas, this is a great opportunity to bring a new concept to the City.” The leasehold is available for £120,000 with an annual rent of £70,000.

Chateau Margaux heiress to open Marylebone wine bar next month: Alexandra Petit, heiress of Bordeaux-based wine producer Chateau Margaux, and restaurateur Natsuko Perromat du Marais are to launch Clarette wine bar in Marylebone next month. The multi-level wine bar will open on the corner of Blandford Street and Manchester Street featuring mainly French wine alongside sharing plates. Petit and du Marais have appointed Chateau Margaux ambassador Thibault Pontallier to oversee the standalone venture, which is independent of the wine estate. Located in a three-storey London townhouse, Clarette promises to introduce a “refined, chic and stylish drinking establishment” to the neighbourhood, Hot Dinners reports. There will be a large bar on the ground floor complete with communal table, while the first floor will feature a fireplace. There will also be an outdoor terrace.

 
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