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Wed 15th Nov 2017 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Deltic boss – young Brits going out and spending more to escape ‘stresses of everyday life’: Deltic Group chief executive Peter Marks has told Propel he believes young Brits are now going out more and increasing their average spend because they are looking to “get away from the stresses of everyday life”. Marks spoke as the fifth Deltic Night Index – and the first to show year-on-year data – was released. The report, which looks at changing consumer behaviours in the UK’s evening and late-night leisure sector, surveyed 2,291 people aged 18 or over with a minimum of 500 18 to 21-year-olds. It showed average spend was up 9.0% to £61.58 on a night out, compared with £53.63 the previous year. Spend has increased on most parts of the late-night leisure spending mix, with an 11.1% increase on spending on drinks in the venue and 11.4% increase on entry fee, as well as a 20.9% increase on pre-drinks. The survey, which covers 1 August to 31 October, showed 60.1% of consumers are going on a night out at least once a week – the highest percentage since the index began. This was an increase from 58.3% the year before and from 43.2% in the previous quarter. This increased to 82.0% for 18 to 21-year-olds – up 10.0% from last year. Almost half (49.5%) of 18 to 25-year-olds spend more money on clubs and bars each month than on other forms of late-night leisure. There has been an 11.1% increase in spending on drinks in the venue to £18.02, compared with £16.22 the year before. Almost half (49.2%) of those aged 26 to 30 stated escaping the stresses of day-to-day life as the top reason to go out. Meanwhile, average spend on Halloween increased by 7.2% on the previous year, from £33 to £35.36. Marks told Propel: “People are looking for a quality, premium experience on a night out and we have to be on that trend. However, the reason for going out has moved away from just catching up with friends to escaping from the pressures of everyday life and having fun and a laugh. The late-night sector is in good health – there have been ups and downs but, contrary to some reports, the past five years have been stable and we’re doing this research to try to show that.”

Industry News:

Restaurant Marketer & Innovator open for bookings: Restaurant Marketer & Innovator, the most comprehensive marketing conference the sector has seen, is open for bookings. Propel will stage the two-day event in partnership with Think Hospitality on Wednesday, 17 January and Thursday, 18 January at One Moorgate Place in London. The event will bring together marketers, strategists and business leaders from the foodservice sector to understand trends, share success, and define the future of the sector. A total of 40 speakers from four countries, representing more than 30 brands, will provide advice and insight. For full details, click here. Prices for the two days are £525 plus VAT for operators and £795 plus VAT for suppliers. A one-day rate of £345 plus VAT is available to operators only. For more information and to book, contact Jo Charity on 01444 810304 or jo.charity@propelinfo.com or Anne Steele on 01444 817691 or anne.steele@propelinfo.com

US operators continue to see sales slowdown in third quarter, full-service restaurants hardest hit: US operators are continuing to see a slowdown in sales in the third quarter with full-service restaurants being hardest hit, according to new data from insights firm Technomic. To date, about 60 companies have released their third-quarter results and more than half have reported declines in comparable sales, the company said. On average, publicly held companies saw their third-quarter comparable sales drop by 1.3%. Full-service dining operators were the hardest hit, with 24 of 32 companies posting negative quarterly comparable sales. Technomic industry research manager Kevin Schimpf said: “As we look to the fourth quarter, expect modest improvements in comparable sales as operators face easier quarterly comparisons from the prior year and also begin to turn a corner on hurricane-related performance issues.” Among the operators to buck the trend in the third quarter were McDonald’s, which has seen its US comparable sales increase for three consecutive quarters, rising from a second-quarter mark of 3.9% to 4.1% growth in the third quarter. Meanwhile, Burger King’s 4% growth was its highest in the US since the first quarter of 2016. At the other end of the scale, Chipotle posted 1% comparable sales growth in the third quarter, which marks three consecutive quarters with decelerating like-for-like sales. Papa John’s has now observed four straight quarters of decreasing comparable sales growth. The fast-casual segment continued to see a relative downturn in 2017 as eight of 11 publicly held fast-casual chains posted negative third-quarter comparable sales, including Shake Shack.

Price of food and non-alcoholic drinks rises 4.1% in October as inflation remains at 3%: The price of food and non-alcoholic drinks rose at an annual rate of 4.1% in October – the highest since September 2013. Higher food prices offset by lower fuel costs meant inflation remained steady at a five-and-a-half-year high of 3%, figures from the Office for National Statistics showed. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) had been expected to rise, with the Bank of England forecasting it would peak at 3.2% this autumn. The official target for the CPI is 2.0%. If the CPI inflation rate had risen above 3%, Bank of England governor Mark Carney would have been forced to write to the chancellor explaining why it was so far above target.

Asian Curry Awards winners revealed: The winners of the seventh Asian Curry Awards have been revealed, with Michelin-starred Benares’ Atul Kochhar named Chef of the Year. The awards, organised by the Asian Catering Federation, saw Quilon scoop the Asian Fine Dining accolade while Kricket was named Best Newcomer. Outside London, The Chilli Pickle in Brighton was named Best Casual Dining Restaurant, Lemon Grass won Best Chain, while Greenleaf took the Best Outside Caterer accolade. There was a Special Recognition Award for Asma Khan, whose new all-female brigade at Darjeeling Express has received widespread critical acclaim. The ceremony was staged at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. Asian Catering Federation chairman Yawar Khan acknowledged the problems Asian restaurant owners face but highlighted the success of those willing to embrace change, raise standards, update menus, invest in marketing and stop competing on price. He said: “We are in a growing market. More people are eating out and ordering takeaways than ever before. Yes, curry restaurants are closing every week but the best will survive and thrive. There will be those that complain and do nothing. Then there will also be those that continue to innovate and raise standards.”

Company News:

Starbucks franchise co-founded by Ei Group director opens second site, reveals further details of roll-out plans: Starbucks franchise Elite Coffee has opened its second site ahead of its planned £1.1m fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Growthdeck to support the roll-out of 20 new outlets in the next five years. Elite Coffee, which was founded by Paul Harbottle, group commercial director at Ei Group, and Steve Evans, has added to its venue at the Excel Centre in east London with a site at the Royal Wharf development in the City. The store has a lease that excludes the four major coffee brands from the complex. Further details about the roll-out plan have also been revealed. Starbucks UK has granted Elite Coffee a franchise territory comprising east London and Essex, including Docklands. Starbucks UK has already approved six new greenfield franchise sites in the designated territory. These new sites include “prestigious new commercial/residential property developments” and negotiations with developers are at various stages. Preferred units have also been confirmed in five other proposed sites. Elite Coffee has also identified an operations director with experience of running Starbucks franchises to join the team as the roll-out develops. Growthdeck has won the mandate to raise £1.1m of equity for Elite to part-fund the roll-out of 20 new franchise units over the next five years. A further round of funding for circa £1.25m will be undertaken in the second half of 2018 – and it is expected this will be raised largely, if not all, in the form of debt. Based on an exit in 2022, the terms attaching to the current £1.1m equity round offer the prospect of 4.1 times money return – or 5.8 times with the benefit of initial 30% EIS income tax relief (48% internal rate of return). A “meet the management” lunch is planned for Tuesday, 28 November at 34 Mayfair in Grosvenor Square.

Moody Burgers to launch £250,000 crowdfunding campaign as it looks to expand across UK: Burger restaurant and delivery concept Moody Burgers is set to launch a £250,000 crowdfunding campaign as it seeks to expand across the UK. The company, which currently operates two sites – in Swindon and Worcester – is preparing to raise the funds on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube and will offer 25% equity in return for the investment. Moody Burgers was launched last year after spotting a gap in the market to deliver Californian-inspired burgers. The funds will be used to build sites and invest in marketing activity to help grow its brand and sales a “lot quicker”. The company opened its first site in Swindon in September 2016, followed by the Worcester outlet in March this year. It quickly outgrew its Swindon site and moved to a new 80-cover venue in the Wiltshire town in September that also offers a range of almost 50 cocktails and craft beers. Moody Burgers said that since relocating, deliveries had risen 20%. Moody Burgers has generated sales to date through its website of £200,000 and delivered more than 25,000 burgers. Operations manager Rich Leftwich said: “Our new, larger site in Swindon has added even more income streams and profitability to this business. The growth potential to add new stores is significant and we have a pipeline of potential properties and are ready to go.” Managing director Carl Anderson added: “We’ve been working on the idea for just over a year and we have a strong customer base and an appetite to grow the business. We look forward to having Moody Burgers in more towns and cities across the UK.” Finance director Alan Murray added: “This is a great brand in an improving market and has the potential to grow really quickly.” Moody Burgers has a menu that features 13 burgers as well as loaded fries, sides, wings and shakes. It has 12,000 customers on its database.

Bubbacue outlines expansion plans as it reports 40% turnover boost following opening of second Belfast site: Northern Ireland-based barbecue restaurant Bubbacue has outlined its expansion plans as it reported a 40% turnover increase following the opening of its second Belfast outlet. Bubbacue first opened in November 2012 as a pop-up restaurant before becoming a permanent fixture in the capital’s Callender Street. It opened its second venue in Botanic Avenue in June on the back of securing £400,000 from the Growth Loan Fund and has outlined plans to expand its presence in the city and also to launch in Dublin. Managing director John Blisard, who owns the company with wife Karen, told Insider Media: “Our second restaurant has traded extremely well. The student market is very lucrative and the past month in particular has been hugely successful. There is certainly nobody else here or in England doing what we do and in America there are only a few franchises similar to us. The market is heading in one direction and that is towards fast-casual dining. We’re going to be opening the first Bubbacue in Dublin within the next nine months and we have plans to open a third store in Northern Ireland.” Blisard also founded Belfast-based burrito restaurant Boojum. He sold the then five-strong chain in 2015 to David and Andrew Maxwell for an undisclosed sum.

Former La Tasca executive chef launches Spanish restaurant concept in Manchester: Former La Tasca executive chef Ignacio Perez-Barreiro has launched an “authentic Spanish dining experience” in the Didsbury suburb of Manchester. Perez-Barreiro and wife Natalia Esquerdo-Girbes have opened Tinto, a 90-cover restaurant in Wilmslow Road at a site formerly occupied by Mark Andrews Developments’ Chalk Bar and Grill concept, which closed six months ago. Perez-Barreiro, better known as Nacho, qualified as a chef in Spain before relocating to the UK in 1992. During his time as executive chef at La Tasca’s first restaurant in Deansgate, Manchester, he helped to establish the concept and roll the brand out across the UK and US. The husband-and-wife team founded Spanish food and kitchenware wholesaler Lola Espana in 2001 and jointly launched tapas restaurant Tapeo & Wine in Deansgate in May 2016. However, they decided to sell their stake to the other shareholder, the father of Manchester United footballer Juan Mata, to run their own restaurant. Tinto will offer a Spanish menu focusing on its charcoal oven. The ambition is to move beyond the tapas dishes prevalent in many of the UK’s Spanish restaurants and recreate an authentic Spanish family dining experience. Esquerdo-Girbes told BDaily: “We believe Spanish food, cooked in a simple and authentic way to bring out the high-quality ingredients, will be a big attraction.”

The Alchemist reveals more details of £1.6m Nottingham venue, first East Midlands site: The Alchemist, which is backed by Palatine Private Equity, has revealed more details of the site it will launch in Nottingham. The £1.6m bar and restaurant will open in King Street in the first week of February on the site of the former Tropeiro restaurant, which also previously housed a Hard Rock Cafe. It will be The Alchemist’s first venue in the East Midlands. The 6,500 square foot venue will have 120 covers in the restaurant and a further 100 covers in the bar, with the opening creating 70 jobs. Managing director Simon Potts told the Nottingham Post: “Nottingham is a great city that’s always had a good heritage for innovative bars. It’s somewhere we’ve wanted to be for a long time.” The Alchemist originally set its sights on a site in Pelham Street but councillors refused the licensing application as it was in a “saturation zone”. However, The Alchemist was able to transfer the alcohol licence from the previous owner of the King Street venue. The Alchemist operates 12 sites with a further four to open by April as part of plans to build a 50-strong estate. Palatine Private Equity supported a buyout of The Alchemist from Living Ventures in 2015.

Knead Pubs opens new venue in Stamford, Lincolnshire: Lincolnshire-based Knead Pubs, led by farmer Michael Thurlby, has opened its latest venue, Paten & Co. The venue is in the centre of Stamford housed in an 18th century building that was formerly a wine merchant and stores. Knead Pubs closed the site, formerly known as The Periwig, two years ago and used the time to “gather ideas and inspiration”, not only from the building’s history but also to look into new innovations and trends within the pub and dining industry. A spokesman said: “Combining all of this, Paten & Co has an urban and industrial feel coupled with an open-plan kitchen, craft beers from around the country, specialist cocktails and hand-picked wines from around the world. The menu is using meat and produce from Thurlby’s own farm just up the road from Stamford in Tallington, and the kitchen at Paten & Co has a charcoal oven that will produce a range of dishes using these local ingredients.” Knead Pubs has six pubs and one hotel, located in Stamford, Oakham and Newark.

Harrods unveils art deco-style coffee bar and bakery: Harrods has unveiled its new art deco-style coffee bar and bakery to mark the completion of the first phase of a major update of its food hall. The two-year transformation of the department store’s grocery section is its biggest refurbishment since the 1980s. The coffee shop will turn into a cocktail bar in the evening serving chilled espresso martinis and coffee negronis. There will also be a new coffee roastery – the first in the store for more than 30 years – and a new food-to-go store called Roast And Bake. The bakery will create 15 varieties of bread as well as pastries, cakes and biscuits from scratch. A bell will sound every 30 minutes when fresh batches are removed from the bread ovens. Harrods director of food and restaurants Alex Dower told the Evening Standard: “Nowhere else will there be such a combination of skill, creativity, experience, outstanding service and variety of food offered in the beauty of a grade II-listed environment.” The bakery, which is located at the Basil Street entrance, will also offer a range of sandwiches, salads and snack pots to take away.

Former Tom Aikens chef opens Berkshire gastro-pub: Chef entrepreneur Dom Robinson has opened a gastro-pub in Berkshire. Robinson, who has worked with Tom Aikens and Anthony Demetre, has launched The Blackbird in the hamlet of Bagnor, near Newbury. The venue focuses on “flavour and good honest cooking” using Robinson’s French training to bring the best out of seasonable, traceable, sustainable and local produce. The menu features venison tartar with Jerusalem artichokes, hazelnuts and truffle; salt marsh lamb rump with courgettes, sea herbs and smoked sardine; and pot roast game of the day. Drinks include a selection of ales, many sourced locally, and wine. The decor features rustic wooden furniture, exposed copper piping, leather armchairs and an antique pedal-operated organ. Robinson said: “My cooking is about keeping things simple, focusing on flavour and using the techniques I’ve learnt to get the best out of ingredients. You won’t see me messing around with gels or fermenting everything just for the sake of it. What I love about the traditional British pub is it’s something everyone can enjoy and it brings people from all walks of life together.”

Swansea-based multi-site operator to launch restaurant and cocktail bar in beachfront tower: Swansea-based multi-site operator Noah Redfern is to launch a restaurant and cocktail bar in a restored tower on the city’s beachfront. Redfern will reopen the landmark Marina Towers – a former observatory – as a ground-floor cafe and restaurant with outdoor seating, a tapas and cocktail bar above, and a top-floor holiday let. Redfern acquired the building in 2013 and began the project a year and a half later but the plan has been hit by a series of setbacks. He told Wales Online: “I wanted it to open in August but now it’s more likely February 2018. It’s one of the best spots in Swansea – you see the sunset and all the way across to Mumbles.” Redfern also owns Swansea bars Noah’s Yard and Uplands, as well as Wind Street nightclub. Marina Towers was built in 1988 and features a spiral staircase. It was leased to the astronomical society for 17 years but closed in 2009.

Star Inn, Alfriston, comes on market with £3m price tag: The freehold of the Star Inn in Alfriston, East Sussex, is being marketed by agents Fleurets off a price tag of £3m. The inn, now operating as a 37-bedroom hotel, was originally run by monks and local legend suggests the coaching inn was historically a popular stopping point for smugglers. Nick Earee, of Fleurets, said: “The Star Inn fronts the high street of this charming village. Furthermore, there are a host of local visitor attractions, including Drusilla’s zoo, the English Wine Centre, Glyndebourne opera house and the rolling hills of the South Downs and Cuckmere Haven. Fleurets is expecting a high level of interest.”

Tim Clay to become Asahi UK managing director as Gary Haigh steps down: Premium beer business Asahi UK will see a new managing director take the helm from January 2018 as current managing director Gary Haigh retires at the end of this year. Having spearheaded the growth of brands such as Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Pilsner Urquell and St Stefanus, Haigh will be succeeded by Asahi UK sales director Tim Clay. A spokesman said: “Gary has overseen Asahi UK operations since 2011 and was instrumental in the sale of its Woking-based business from SABMiller to Asahi Group Holdings in 2016. During his tenure, the UK business has achieved record revenues and profits year-on-year. Tim Clay joined the UK business as sales director in 2013 and has consistently delivered outstanding year-on-year revenue growth. This has been achieved through improved customer engagement and enhancement of the sales function, people development, and the adoption of leading-edge sales tools. Prior to joining Asahi UK, Tim was the UK on-trade and wholesale sales director at AB InBev.” Gary Haigh said: “I’m delighted to be handing over the reins of the business to Tim Clay, who has been a key part of the team and achieved outstanding results during his time as sales director. It’s been fantastic to work with the company at such a critical time of its evolution and see how the brands have grown to be such an integral part of the premium British beer landscape.”

Ei Group reports almost 10,000 orders for new online ordering platform: Ei Group has reported almost 10,000 orders have been placed since its new online ordering platform, designed to help its publicans grow their businesses, was launched in August. The refreshed digital service has also had more than 1,200 active customers to date. The online ordering platform, which is fully mobile optimised, is part of the suite of tools available via the Publican Channel, designed for existing and prospective publicans and which provides access to business advice, training, printed point of sale, current deals and the ability to place orders online. Group services director James Armitage said: “As part of our ongoing commitment to ensure our publicans have everything at their fingertips in the format they want it, we have invested significantly to ensure the online ordering platform is easy to navigate but also has exclusive discounts on a wide range of popular products. Since launching the platform, we have already seen a significant amount of sales and more publicans wanting to order online. We have also received high levels of engagement and positive feedback from our publicans around user experience, search functionality, mobile optimisation and the intuitive nature of the site.” Pub Principles guides, including social media, sport, gaming machines and cellar standards, have also been created in partnership with industry experts such as Cask Marque, Diageo and Gamestec and are available to download.

Moto Hospitality to build M6 service station, submits plans for another on M3: Motorway service station operator Moto Hospitality has had its plans to build its first service station for about eight years approved. The company has been granted permission by Rugby Borough Council to demolish a farm building to make way for the development on the M6 near Coventry. The new service station, just north of junction one, will include a 100-bedroom hotel, a 42,614 square foot main building housing a restaurant, shops, tourist information and a games area, as well as a drive-thru coffee shop and petrol station. The project will create 200 permanent jobs, the Coventry Telegraph reports. A service area was proposed for the site in 1975 but plans were shelved in 1980, leaving four “ghost” slip roads that don’t lead anywhere. Meanwhile, Moto Hospitality has submitted plans for another service station, this time at a 21.34-hectare site on the M3 near Basingstoke. Proposals have been submitted to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council to build a 100-bedroom hotel, a drive-thru operated by Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee, and a petrol station and shop on agricultural land to the south of junction six, creating 215 permanent jobs. Moto Hospitality operates 45 sites across the UK, employing 5,000 staff.

Nando’s to open new-build restaurant in Hull: Nando’s has started work on a new-build restaurant in Hull ahead of an opening next year. The single-storey, 375 square metre venue is being built on a car park in Kingswood to the east of Cineworld and Hollywood Bowl and close to restaurants operated by The Restaurant Group-owned Frankie & Benny’s, Pizza Hut, KFC and McDonald’s. The restaurant is expected to open in January with the company advertising for staff and an open day to be held next month, the Hull Daily Mail reports. The restaurant will be Nando’s third in Hull. Nando’s has more than 1,000 restaurants across the globe, with almost 400 in the UK and Ireland.

Dark Star highlights UK pubs’ charity work with new beer mat launch: Sussex-based brewer and retailer Dark Star has launched a new set of beer mats in conjunction with PubAid to remind customers that UK pubs raise more than £100m every year for charity. Dark Star, which set up its own foundation in 2012 to assist charities and improve local communities, is going to choose a charity to feature on the back of its beer mats each year. The initial release is aimed at sharing research conducted by PubAid that highlights the fact UK pubs raise more than £100m for charity every year. Dark Star managing director James Cuthbertson said: “At a time when we’re seeing so many pub closures and several corners of the consumer press seem more than happy to search out negative stories about pubs and alcohol, I think it’s a timely reminder to all about the important and selfless role many pubs play in the very fabric of our communities.”

Birmingham Whisky Club bids to convert museum cafe into bar: Birmingham Whisky Club has submitted plans to open a bar at a grade II-listed museum in the city. The club is seeking permission from the city council to convert a cafe at the Museum Of The Jewellery Quarter in Vyse Street. The venue would be operated separately from the museum, which is housed in a factory that opened in 1899 and operated until manufacturer Smith & Pepper ceased trading in 1981. The site was converted to a museum in 1999, Insider Media reports. A statement submitted to Birmingham City Council said: “To ensure the enhancement of use within a beautifully historic building and location, this application provides an economic and social benefit to the setting. The cafe requires modernisation and the re-fit of non-original items regardless of the change of use, which will enhance the quality of this specification. Existing facilities are being refurbished in a sensitive way.”

Turtle Bay to open Colchester site next month: Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay is to open its site in Colchester, Essex, next month. The restaurant will open in High Street on Tuesday, 4 December following an £800,000 investment, creating 50 jobs. The restaurant will open in the Greytown House development alongside restaurant brands Wagamama and Five Guys. Casual Dining Group was also due to open a site for its Las Iguanas brand at Greytown House but recently withdrew its plans. A Turtle Bay spokesman told the Daily Gazette: “There has been an £800,000 investment in the 5,500 square foot site that will reveal a 160-seater restaurant.” Turtle Bay, which is backed by Piper Private Equity, was formed by Las Iguanas co-founder Ajith Jaya-Wickrema and opened its first site in Milton Keynes in 2010. It now operates more than 40 restaurants across the UK, with the nearest venue to Colchester in Chelmsford.

Pie and mash concept Piecaramba! to start expansion next month: Winchester-based pie and mash shop Piecaramba! is to start expansion by opening a second site, in Southampton next month. The concept, which offers pie and mash while also operating as a comic book store, celebrated its first anniversary by announcing plans to open premises in Carlton Place on Wednesday, 6 December. The new restaurant will be set over two floors, giving the business an opportunity to cater to more customers and provide a function area for private parties and events. Piecaramba! proprietor Rob Litchfield told the Daily Echo: “We’ve worked hard to establish ourselves in Winchester and we’re really excited to be in the position to open another store and spread the good word of the pie. We wanted to open another one as quickly as possible and not fall into a position where we got too comfortable with just one store. We would love to open more sites and we’ve earmarked a couple of other towns for expansion if and when the time is right.”

East Sussex-based operators reopen West Sussex village pub for second site: The Willis family, which operates the Barley Mow at Selmeston, near Eastbourne, have reopened a village pub in West Sussex for their second site. The Farmers pub in Scaynes Hill, near Haywards Heath, formerly the Inn On The Green, has been closed for the past few months to undergo a major refurbishment and has now reopened. It will be run by Michael and Jack Willis while Suzanne Willis, wife of Michael and mother of Jack, will continue to run the Selmeston pub. She told the Mid Sussex Times: “We believe there is really strong demand for a well-run classic English pub. We serve fresh, locally sourced food at a reasonable price, our staff are part of the team and we believe in making customers welcome and having a good ambience. We have a really good selection of wine as we have many customers who travel that bit further to drink a wine they enjoy, and we support local breweries.”

Diageo launches and prices euro-denominated bonds: Diageo has launched and priced €1.275bn fixed-rate euro-denominated bonds under its European Debt Issuance Programme. The issuer of the bonds will be Diageo Finance, with payment of principal and interest fully guaranteed by Diageo. The issue consists of €775m bonds due November 2020 with a coupon of 0.000% and €500m bonds due June 2024 with a coupon of 0.500%. Proceeds from this issuance will be used for general corporate purposes. Citigroup Global Markets, Credit Suisse Securities (Europe), Deutsche Bank, HSBC Bank, Nomura International and NatWest Markets are joint book-running managers.

Cumbrian luxury hotel featuring pub and restaurant changes hands: A luxury 51-bedroom hotel in Cumbria with extensive leisure facilities has changed hands. The Crown Hotel in Wetheral, near Carlisle, has been sold by the Byers family to Variegate Properties for an undisclosed amount through agents Christie and Co. The four-star hotel features conference and event facilities, a restaurant, a pub, a leisure club with 12-metre pool and a beauty room. Lawyers from Burnetts in Carlisle advised the Byers family on the sale. Burnetts corporate partner Michael Walby told Insider Media: “It is sad to see David ending his long association with the Crown Hotel but we wish the new owners every success.” Accounting and tax advice for the Byers family was provided by NB Lancaster and PwC. Jonathan Wilde, from Wilde Law, advised Variegate Properties.

BaxterStorey welcomes first qualified apprentice in Scotland: Contract catering company BaxterStorey has welcomed its first qualified apprentice in Scotland. Laura Bell, 18, from Glasgow, has completed her 12-month NVQ Modern Apprenticeship. BaxterStorey Scotland joined the apprenticeship scheme in 2016 and created its programme in partnership with workplace hospitality qualification provider Goal Training. During her training Bell was based at Scottish Water in Stepps, where she worked under the mentorship of BaxterStorey chef manager Ken Moody. She had the opportunity to work alongside the site’s sous chefs, developing her skills in the kitchen. She graduated from the scheme with additional qualifications including level 2 health and safety, level 2 food safety and allergy training. Since completion of her apprenticeship, Bell has been offered a full-time role with BaxterStorey Scotland and is now a commis chef at Arnold Clark in Glasgow. Modern Apprenticeships is a government initiative that aims to tackle Scotland’s skills gap, helping employers to develop their workforce by training new staff and upskilling existing employees.

 
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