Adnams reports trading in pubs ahead of last year: Suffolk brewer and retailer Adnams has said trading in its pubs in the first quarter of 2019 has been ahead of last year. The company, which operates circa 45 managed and tenanted pubs in and around East Anglia, also said a new system aimed at countering cost and margin pressures in its drinks business had now “gone live”. It added the project, along with “continuing economic and political uncertainty” would have an impact on its first-half results. At its annual general meeting, the company stated: “In the first quarter of 2019 our beer volumes were ahead of the equivalent quarter of 2018 although the margin pressure we have reported in recent periods has continued. Our low-alcohol Ghost Ship (0.5% ABV) has made an excellent start in a fast-growing market and has very good prospects. Spirits volumes were down on 2018 as, despite strong market growth, our gins have faced increasing competition from a rapidly rising number of producers and a fast-expanding range of flavoured drinks. Our shops and pubs have traded well in the first quarter and are ahead of last year despite a smaller estate. We were pleased to launch The Cross Keys at Aldeburgh as a managed inn at the beginning of March and it has made a fine start to trading. A major focus of our business over the past year, especially in the first quarter of 2019, has been the implementation of a new system designed to help us counter the cost and margin pressures we are facing in our drinks business. Our previous system was more than 25 years old and the new one will help us make improvements in efficiency and productivity. The new system went live at the end of March and we have faced some inevitable, and anticipated, disruption as the changes we are making bed down. The impact of this has been felt throughout our drinks business. We are making good progress towards full effectiveness of the system. The project has been an absorbing one and this, together with continuing economic and political uncertainty, will have some impact on our first-half results.”
Barton steps down as Prezzo operations director: Paul Barton has stepped down as operations director of Prezzo, the Karen Jones-led restaurant chain, after more than two and half years with the business, Propel has learned. Barton had previously been with PizzaExpress for almost nine years, including five as regional and divisional director at the Hony Capital-backed group. He was seen as a key appointment of former chief executive Jon Hendry-Pickup, who was appointed Prezzo’s chief executive earlier in 2016 after the company was taken private by TPG Capital in a £304m deal. Propel understands the company won’t replace Barton but its regional operations directors will now report straight into executive chairman Jones. Last spring, Prezzo shut 94 of its 300 restaurants in the UK as part of a restructure under a company voluntary arrangement. In November it reported an operating loss of £65m for 2017 and restructured its debts, while its main backer wrote-off two-thirds of its investment. The company now has 186 restaurants.
Ei Commercial Properties strengthens ties with White Brasserie Company: Ei Commercial Properties, the Ei Group business that manages assets leased to third parties, has strengthened its relationship with The White Brasserie Company, sister company to Raymond Blanc’s Brasserie Blanc chain. Ei Commercial Properties has agreed a 20-year commercial free-of-tie lease for its pub The Galleon in Highcliffe, Dorset, which will reopen as The Oaks in July following a refurbishment in line with The White Brasserie Company’s premium pub offering. A significant investment will be made in its kitchen, which will serve seasonal French fare and British pub classics cooked from scratch. The pub will offer a 100-cover restaurant with additional seating outside. The news follows Ei Group’s sale of 370 pubs to investment fund Tavern Propco earlier this year. The company said this latest agreement reflected the “commitment of the company to further build Ei Commercial Properties in partnership with outstanding operators such as The White Brasserie Company”. The White Brasserie Company property director Jeremy Brown said: “We have worked with Ei Commercial Properties since 2014 and have developed ten sites with the group. We hope there will be further opportunities to build our portfolio.” Greg Parkes, commercial property director at Ei Commercial Properties, added: “Our aim is to maximise the value of Ei Group assets and partner with exciting, high-quality operators. The White Brasserie Company is a long-term partner and we’re delighted to have found this new site, which offers the right proposition.” The White Brasserie Company currently operates 19 pubs.
Paul UK to launch mobile payment and loyalty app: Paul UK, the French bakery and cafe brand, is to launch its first mobile payment and loyalty app. The free app, which will be powered by digital payment, loyalty and marketing solution Yoyo, will replace Paul’s loyalty card and allow customers to collect points and receive tailored offers. The app will launch on Monday, 20 May. Its mobile payment feature will allow the brand to capture anonymised customer data to generate personalised rewards and in-store experiences. Customers will earn 100 points for every £1 spent using the app and free hot drinks via a digital stamp card. Paul managing director and chairman Maxime Holder said: “Launching a mobile payment and loyalty app is a first for Paul UK and an instrumental tool for building on overall customer experience across our 37 UK shops. It allows us to take our rewards card, La Carte Noire, into the digital age with Yoyo, making in-store payment fast and easy while recognising personal purchasing behaviour so we can tailor rewards accordingly.” Paul UK customers will join more than 1.5 million Yoyo users, who will also be able to use the Paul app.
Costley & Costley returns to profit and boosts turnover as it continues portfolio investment: Ayrshire-based restaurant and hotel operator Costley & Costley has returned to profit having reported a boost in turnover as it continues investing in its portfolio. The family-owned company saw turnover rise 1.3% to £10,052,329 for the year ending 30 September 2018, compared with £9,926,436 the previous year. It reported a pre-tax profit of £113,456, compared with a loss of £128,614 the year before. The company said it expected to see further improvements in profit and turnover in its current financial year as it continued to see the benefits of an “extensive” capital investment programme in the previous two years. Gross profit margin increased to 70.1% compared with 69.3% the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In his report accompanying the accounts, director Bill Costley said: “The directors continue to focus on improving the quality and service associated with the Costley brand to further enhance the customer experience. The extensive programme of capital investment carried out throughout the group in 2016 and 2017 has generated improvements in both turnover and profit in 2018. The directors continue in their efforts to drive efficiencies within the business and a measure of this success is the improvement in the gross profit rate. The commitment of the directors to enhance the customer experience of the Costley brand continues this financial year. A further investment of £200,000 has been approved to develop the restaurant at the group’s five-star property, Lochgreen House Hotel. The programme of investment is ongoing with plans to develop the Lochgreen House Hotel banqueting facilities.” Costley & Costley operates seven sites across Ayrshire.
NAC and Ahi Poke team to launch pastry concept in Soho: The team behind NAC (North Audley Cantine) in Mayfair and the Ahi Poke business are to launch pastry concept Crème in Soho. David Bellaiche, Gabriel Cohen-Elia and Jeremy Coste have secured the Sir Tom Baker site in D’Arblay Street for the first site under the new concept. Crème will be a “modern and refreshing take on pastry, specialising in cookies and using a combination of traditional techniques and creative flavour profiles”. NAC launched in Mayfair in 2013, while Ahi Poke was founded in 2016 and has grown to six sites across London. Sammy Weinbaum and Emma Wright, of CDG Leisure, acted on the D’Arblay Street deal.
Adam Rawson reveals details of double restaurant opening at new King’s Cross hotel: Adam Rawson, who trained under Nuno Mendes and Gordon Ramsay before launching Lucky Chip and Pachamama, has revealed details of two restaurants he will open as executive chef of The Standard Hotel in King’s Cross. The ten-storey hotel will launch in Judd Street this summer featuring two distinct eating and drinking spaces. The top section will be run by Michelin-starred chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias, while the entire ground floor will be run by Rawson in collaboration with The Standard’s Shawn Hausman, previously of US-based restaurant group Mission Chinese Food. Rawson has created all-day restaurant Isla, focusing on British coastal cuisine and natural wine, and Double Standard, which will feature a menu inspired by traditional pub classics and New York dive bars. The decor will include heavy-set wooden doors, textured glass and plush red carpet to encapsulate the “cosy feeling of a British local”. Rawson said: “I have really enjoyed the challenge of creating menus that reflect the distinct personalities of Double Standard and Isla.” The London opening will be Standard International’s first outside the US and sixth in total.
JD Wetherspoon to open €3m Carlow pub next week: JD Wetherspoon will add to its Irish footprint by opening a pub in Carlow next week. The company has invested more than €3m (£2.6m) to develop The Tullow Gate, which will open on Wednesday (1 May) on the site of the former Traders Bar in Tullow Street. The three-storey pub takes its name from one of Carlow’s four town gates. The pub, which is creating 65 jobs, will feature a bar on the ground floor with a double-height back bar. A large roof terrace will feature a pergola, retractable sun awning and semi-covered booth seating. The pub will be managed by Damien McConomy, who was previously at Wetherspoon’s first pub in Ireland, The Three Tun Tavern in Blackrock. The company operates five other pubs in Ireland and chairman Tim Martin told Propel earlier this year it could expand to 30 sites in the country.
BrewDog reveals further details of Brisbane brewery: BrewDog has revealed the brewhouse at its brewery being built in Brisbane, Australia, will be operational by the end of the year. The Scottish brewer and retailer also said the riverside brewery would house a four-vessel 25HL brewing system rather than the two-vessel 50HL it planned to use originally. The brewery will also feature a canning line and barrel-ageing facility. BrewDog stated on its blog: “The craft beer scene in Queensland is something we can’t wait to play our part in and, as our new home moves towards completion, we are getting more excited by the day.” Earlier this month, BrewDog acquired a brewery and taproom in Berlin from Stone Brewing. The company’s latest fund-raising campaign has so far seen 7,428 investors pledge £1,714,375 with 71 days remaining. BrewDog wants to use the funds to open two breweries in China and a hotel, brewery and museum in London. Its key focus is to open five brewpubs – in Germany, Italy, Spain and France.
Kerb rolls out lunchbox scheme: Street food business Kerb has rolled out a reusable lunchbox scheme at its five London markets following a trial. The initiative – Pact Lunch – allows customers to bring their own Tupperware in return for 50p off their dish. Kerb said it operates the only markets in London to offer the sustainable scheme and, with the company serving 1.5 million dishes per year, the reduction in waste would have a “big impact on the street food scene”. Kerb is set to launch its debut indoor food hall this summer, in a former banana warehouse at Seven Dials.
Tooting-based street fries concept Poptata to launch cocktail bar: Street fries concept Poptata is to launch cocktail bar Top Of The Pop above its site in Tooting Market Hall. The bar will open on Friday, 10 May featuring a gin and tonic trolley and cocktails on tap such as the Feisty Sour (amaretto with grapefruit juice, lime juice and syrup) and Girlie Door (vodka, maraschino, pineapple, raspberry and rose cordial). Top Of The Pop’s central bar will feature high tables and copper-finish stools as well as seated tables and communal benches. Industrial-style pink beams and geometric-patterned tiles will be offset by a living wall. Poptata serves hand-cut fries with dips such as curry ketchup, caramelised onion, and mustard and smoky barbecue.
My Million Pound Menu winner Pilgrim to open debut restaurant, in Liverpool next month: Pilgrim, which won £600,000 investment from Matt Farrell, co-founder of Liverpool-based bar and restaurant group Graffiti Spirits Group, after winning BBC show My Million Pound Menu, is to open its debut restaurant next month. Pilgrim will launch at Graffiti Spirits Group’s Duke Street Food and Drink Market in Liverpool on Wednesday, 15 May. Based on the Camino pilgrimage, Pilgrim’s 40-cover restaurant will feature a bar, mezzanine and terrace with small plates made for sharing, including a four-course tasting menu. The drinks list will include wine, vermouth, port, sherry and cocktails on tap. Pilgrim was founded by managing director Jamie Duffield, chef director Dave Bone and brand and marketing director Anthony Power, who said: “We are incredibly excited to have the opportunity to open our first permanent site at the new Duke Street Market, which will be a fantastic hub of great food and drinks housed under one roof. We’ll serve a flexitarian menu that showcases the highest-quality local produce cooked over a live fire in our open kitchen. With more than 12 established routes of the Camino, we’ll have scope to rotate the menu and bring a fresh approach and interpretation to traditional Iberian dishes.” Farrell told Propel earlier this year Pilgrim had the quality and potential to be “one of the best restaurants in the north west”. Graffiti Spirits Group operates eight sites across Liverpool.
Co-owner of Michelin-starred Harwood Arms opens restaurant and bar at new Stratford-upon-Avon hotel: Mike Robinson, restaurateur and co-owner of Michelin-starred the Harwood Arms in Fulham, has opened The Woodsman in Warwickshire. The restaurant and bar is part of the new Hotel Indigo Stratford-upon-Avon and has its own entrance off Church Street. Robinson has worked with head chef Jon Coates to bring his “field to fork” philosophy to The Woodsman. A large wood-fired oven and charcoal grill are the focal point, while the venue also houses a butchery. Robinson and Coates are also overseeing the hotel’s tea room, The Falcon, which offers cocktails in the evening. The grade II-listed, 16th century building that houses the hotel had been closed for a year. Meanwhile, Hotel Indigo has announced it will open its first property in Chester following a franchise agreement with Castlebridge Hospitality.
Ei Group’s Townsend joins Countryside Properties board: Ei Group chief executive Simon Townsend has joined Countryside Properties, which develops houses and apartments, as a non-executive director. Countryside Properties chairman David Howell said: “We are delighted Simon has agreed to join the board. His experience of business change in a consumer-facing industry will enable him to make a valuable contribution to the future development of Countryside.” Townsend has been chief executive of Ei Group since February 2014 and is also non-executive vice-chairman of the British Beer and Pub Association. He has worked in the pub and leisure industry for more than 25 years in various sales, marketing, commercial and operational roles with Whitbread, Allied Domecq, The Rank Group, and Marston, Thompson & Evershed.
Experienced operator takes on Dorset pub: Experienced operator Link Pub Co has taken on The New Queen in Christchurch, Dorset. The pub has been let on a new lease from freehold owner Avon Tyrrell Estate in a deal brokered by agent Christie & Co. The two-storey, food-led pub, which has been closed for the past four months, will undergo refurbishment ahead of reopening in June. The site on the bank of the river Avon comprises a 140-cover, open-plan bar and restaurant with an additional 30 covers outside. Link Pub Co has previously run several pubs and restaurants in Dorset and Somerset. A spokesman said: “Our aim is to put The New Queen back on the map as a place to dine. It has enjoyed robust trade and, with exciting plans and new ideas in place, we are sure it will continue to be a successful pub for many years to come.”
Aparthotel operator opens Lincoln site: Aparthotel operator Birchover Residences has opened a site in Lincoln. The property, which is on the waterfront at One The Brayford, features 11 apartments and is the first aparthotel in the city. Birchover Residences, which has been operating for 22 years and has five sites across Derby and Nottingham, selected Lincoln thanks to introductions made through the Team Lincolnshire ambassador programme. Birchover Residences managing director Carl Bridge told The Business Desk: “Our research revealed the city has a vibrant tourist economy allied to a very strong business sector supported by the University of Lincoln.”
Nando’s and Vue open sites in regenerated Eltham town centre: Nando’s and cinema operator Vue have opened sites in Eltham’s regenerated town centre. Nando’s has opened a 3,300 square foot venue at the new complex, which is anchored by a six-screen Vue cinema. As part of Greenwich Council’s master plan, the south east London town has benefited from a £6.6m improvement scheme primarily funded by Transport for London, reports News Shopper.
Brighton boutique hotel brought to market for £3.7m: The freehold of Hotel Una in Brighton has been brought to market through agent Fleurets, with a guide price of £3.7m. The boutique hotel is close to the beach with views of the West Pier and i360. Una is housed in a converted Regency townhouse and offers 20 bedrooms and suites. The property has retained many historical features, including a lift that dates to the 1930s.