Starbucks rolls out 5p paper cup charge across its 950 UK stores: Starbucks is rolling out its 5p paper cup charge across all 950 stores in the UK following a trial in 35 London sites. All stores will add 5p to the cost of any drink purchased in a paper cup in a bid to reduce waste and encourage customers to bring in a reusable cup. Customers who bring in reusable cups will continue to receive a long-standing 25p discount off any Starbucks drink. The national roll-out comes after the London trial saw a 126% increase in reusable cup use. The three-month trial was evaluated by environmental charity and behavioural change expert Hubbub and resulted in an increase in customers bringing their own cup or tumbler to trial stores from 2.2% before the trial to 5.8%. The results indicated a nationwide 5p charge supported by in-store communications and staff training could have a positive impact on cutting paper cup use. Starbucks continues to roll out paper cup recycling in all stores nationwide and serve all in-store customers with ceramic cups. As part of its pledge to find alternatives to single-use paper cups, Starbucks committed $10m earlier this year to develop a fully recyclable and compostable hot cup in partnership with Closed Loop Partners through the NextGen Cup Challenge. In further efforts to reduce plastic waste, Starbucks has announced it will eliminate single-use plastic straws globally by 2020. A new Starbucks strawless lid will become the standard lid for all iced coffee, tea and espresso beverages and is currently available in 150 European stores including sites in the UK. Starbucks is also testing straws made from alternative-materials such as paper or PLA compostable plastic for Frappuccino-blended beverages or for customers who prefer or require a straw.
Bakery and coffee shop concept Tart hits £250,000 target in crowdfunding campaign to open third site: Bakery and coffee shop concept Tart has hit target in its £250,000 campaign on crowdfunding platform Seedrs to open a third site. The company is offering 10.40% equity in return for investment and so far 189 investors have pledged £251,994. The company, founded by Adam Harrison and Jason Smith three years ago, has a pre-money valuation of almost £2,155,000. The pitch states: “The focus is on convenience through ready-made baked goods for the grab-and-go customer and comfortable surroundings for those looking to eat in. Tart’s primary offering consists of imaginative savoury tarts dished up with fresh salad. The tarts have been reinvented to offer exciting flavour combinations that elevate them from the uninspiring quiches on supermarket shelves. The first store in Clapham opened three years ago and has been a great success. The second, in East Dulwich, is trading well since opening five months ago. The business is looking to accelerate growth through store openings and the addition of a central production kitchen.” Tart secured £75,000 on Seedrs in 2014 to open its first site, in Clapham, with an oversubscribed second round raising £225,000 in 2016 to open in East Dulwich. The company said Clapham’s net sales grew from £262,000 in 2015 to £372,000 (42%) in 2016 and £393,000 (5.6%) in 2017. Tart added: “East Dulwich is currently trading at 27% behind Clapham but is also currently 24% ahead of where Clapham was when it first opened (based on monthly revenue figures). Given East Dulwich has nearly 50% more capacity than Clapham, we expect the former’s sales to surpass Clapham this year.” A third store would be modelled on 700 to 1,000 square feet and a rent of £35,000 per annum, while central baking would allow subsequent stores to be 400 to 700 square feet. The costs would be circa £233,000 to set up including fees, Tart said.
Pret A Manger site numbers in the US near 100 despite three New York closures: Pret A Manger is nearing a 100-store milestone in the US despite three recent closures. The company revealed it would open its next site in New York in the autumn at an undisclosed location, taking the total US portfolio to 92 sites. A spokesman for Pret said: “After opening a record number of shops in the US last year, we had a good look at the estate and felt it necessary to close three New York locations where rents made them unlikely to be profitable. I would like to thank our amazing teams in these shops for their hard work and, of course, our lovely customers for their support too. I’m pleased to say we have found roles for teams in nearby shops. We look forward to opening our next New York City location in the autumn, taking our total shop count in the US to 92.” The company has grown sales by circa 30% in the last two reported financial years in the US, with total sales of £148m in the year to 31 December 2016 – it had an operating loss of £6.3m in that year.
Pint Shop confirms third site: Highly rated new-generation pub brand Pint Shop will open its third site – in Bennett’s Hill, Birmingham, in October. The brand’s other sites are in Cambridge and Oxford. Co-owner It will have a bar on the ground floor and a more than 50-cover first-floor dining room. There will also be a terrace accommodating a further 20 guests. General manager Lee Coliandris will join from the award-winning Plough in Harborne with head chef Mark Walsh arriving from Opus Restaurant. Rich Holmes said: “We are really excited to be bringing Pint Shop to Birmingham and thrilled to have secured two of the city’s most experienced hospitality professionals to take charge of our new site.”
Flagship Belgo reopens with fresh emphasis on craft beer: Belgo, the Belgian-inspired artisan beer and mussels concept operated by Casual Dining Group (CDG), the UK’s leading restaurant group, has reopened its flagship Centraal restaurant in Covent Garden following a major refurbishment. Known for its mussels, rotisserie chicken and vast range of craft beer, the 420-cover restaurant has undergone an extensive refurbishment that has added a bar overlooking a theatre kitchen and a refreshed look and feel including wall art and authentic beer-hall tables and benches. To coincide with the relaunch the Covent Garden site has reintroduced Belgo’s “Beer Adventure” experience, which sees a “master of beer” take groups of six to eight people through a food and beer pairing programme with opportunities for customers to create their own beer-based cocktails. Belgo operations director Chris Anderton said: “We aim to stay at the forefront of consumer trends. We scrutinised our offer and not only wanted to introduce an even bigger range but an educational experience that was fun, engaging and pays homage to our Belgian roots. Belgo was offering craft beer in a traditional style even before the UK boom so we’re confident this new element will be a success.” Centraal will also offer a dedicated on-site party organiser for events ranging from 20 to 300 people in a private area of the restaurant.
Former Noma research chief opens Edinburgh restaurant: Food research hub Edinburgh Food Studio (EFS) will launch its own restaurant on Thursday, 2 August. Open to the public five days a week for brunch, lunch and dinner, EFS will also offer a set tasting menu. The restaurant arm of the business will run in tandem with the Scottish food research lab and avant-garde events programme, which has earned the studio international acclaim. New head chef James Murray will work alongside founders and food research pioneers Ben Reade and Sashana Souza Zanella. Prior to founding EFS in 2015 via a crowdfunding campaign, Reade worked for Noma in Copenhagen as head of research and development at the Nordic Food Lab. The new restaurant’s menu features a commitment to “hand-picked, foraged or lovingly reared ingredients”. Reade said: “We have had three incredibly rich years as an events space and food lab where we’ve done everything from researching ancient Orkney seal recipes to hosting some of the world’s best chefs. Research and innovation are central to what we do. We aim to continue to showcase Scottish produce with this evolution of our restaurant and look forward to welcoming guests on a more regular basis.”
Bistrot Pierre opens largest accommodation site with 14 bedrooms: Private equity-backed restaurant group Bistrot Pierre has enhanced its offering at one of its most successful coastal bistros after opening 14 guest rooms at The Royal William Yard in Plymouth. Residence One is a grade I-listed building that has been restored to create an accommodation offering with period features. A former home of the Admiral of the Fleet, the building is steeped in history and has undergone a major renovation programme. The rooms now complement Bistrot Pierre’s offering and breakfast at the bistro is included as part of the overnight package. Bistrot Pierre chief executive Nick White said: “While this isn’t our first accommodation venture, it is certainly our biggest. We also offer accommodation at our Ilkley bistro, The Crescent, which has traded successfully for many years, and our Stratford-upon-Avon bistro is within The Swan’s Nest Hotel. The renovation project to create Residence One is particularly exciting because of its scale and historical significance.”
Merlin Entertainments and Coca-Cola GB partner to offer 50% off entry in exchange for plastic bottles: Merlin Entertainments has partnered with Coca-Cola Great Britain to offer a plastic bottle discount scheme at its UK attractions. Visitors to attractions such as Thorpe Park, Alton Towers and Legoland can recycle any 500ml plastic bottle on-site by using reverse vending machines. They instantly receive a voucher offering 50% off entry to 30 Merlin-owned attractions. The voucher equates to savings of about £27 when purchasing a Merlin Entertainments day pass. Coca-Cola European Partners vice-president Leendert den Hollander told “Through this exciting new trial with Merlin Entertainments we hope to remind people how valuable their empty plastic bottle is. All our bottles can be recycled and we want to get as many of them back as possible so they can be turned into new bottles and not end up as litter.” Merlin Entertainments head of force for good Sandra Hazel added: “As a responsible business and an advocate for marine conservation we’re pleased to join forces with Coca-Cola Great Britain to encourage people to recycle more this summer by rewarding them with family fun.” The companies will trial the system until 19 October.
JD Wetherspoon to close Sutton High Street pub: JD Wetherspoon’s pub in Sutton High Street will close at the end of next week. The Grapes, which has been at the north end of the road for more than 140 years, will close on Sunday, 5 August. The closure comes after Sutton Council threw out the company’s proposals in May to redevelop the site into a part six, part seven-storey building comprising 28 flats. Wetherspoon wanted to convert the site for residential use after putting forward plans last October. However, the company was turned down for several reasons listed in a refusal notice issued from the council, including the loss of the building as a public house and “overdevelopment” of the site. The Grapes was built by Charles Martin in about 1867 on the site of a coach house and stables, according to Wetherspoon. It was previously named The Corner House and Pitchers Sports Bar before reverting to its original name.
Mad Squirrel hits target in £250,000 crowdfunding campaign to expand craft beer shop estate: Hertfordshire-based brewer and retailer Mad Squirrel has hit the target in its £250,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to expand its craft beer shop estate. Last month the company, founded by Greg Blesson and Jason Duncan-Anderson, increased its equity offer to 2.95% from the original 1.93%. So far, 277 investors have pledged £263,840 and the campaign is now “overfunding”. Mad Squirrel recently secured its sixth site, in Harpenden, and aims to add another this year with plans for three more by 2020. The pitch states: “We recently installed a state-of-the-art brewery and have shown 180% growth in three years. We operate five Mad Squirrel craft beer outlets in commuter belt towns, with moving annual total revenues up 45%. Our taprooms have built a positive reputation for great beer and education. This has created cordial relationships with the authorities. Our strategy of opening more wet-led Mad Squirrel taprooms focuses on current consumer trends for great beer and value for money. Market insights show food-biased outlets are experiencing a decline in revenues compared with wet-led outlets showing a renaissance.” Mad Squirrel, then trading as Red Squirrel Group, raised more than £665,000 on Crowdcube in 2016 to expand its brewery and craft beer shop estate.
Former Antic London head of food takes over Ei Group pub: Nick Ford, former head of food at 40-strong pub company Antic London, and Hayley Chappell, who has 20 years’ experience in hotel finance including at two IHG London sites with a combined turnover of more than £8m, have taken over a Crouch End pub owned by Ei Group. Ei Publican Partnerships has contributed £108,000 alongside £60,000 put up by first-time publicans Ford and Chappell to revitalise the 120-year-old Princess Alexandra. Ford said: “It has always been an ultimate goal and ambition of mine to run my own pub. My experience, skills and knowledge plus Hayley’s shared passion to establish our own business and the ongoing support from Ei Publican Partnerships has allowed us to make this ambition a reality. We felt the time was right and, more importantly, it’s the right pub. I’ve lived in the Crouch End area for eight years and have got to know the building and the area really well. I felt it needed a pub the people here could call their own.”
BrewDog opens 37th UK bar: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has opened a bar in Milton Keynes. Located at 316 Midsummer Boulevard, the venue is the company’s 37th UK bar and 70th worldwide. The Milton Keynes site features 20 draught lines and a wide range of bottled beer from around the world to drink in or take away. BrewDog Milton Keynes follows the company’s announced plans at its AGM in April to open 17 bars globally. So far this year, BrewDog has opened six bars in the UK, including a second site in Edinburgh and three in London, a fifth venue in Sweden and two in Columbus, Ohio, where the brewer has its US headquarters. A third brewing site in Brisbane, Australia, is also in the pipeline to add to BrewDog breweries in Columbus and Ellon in Scotland. BrewDog co-founder James Watt said: “Together with the local craft brewers already making waves in the city, we want to put Milton Keynes on the map as the next outpost for awesome craft beer.”
Chic Lifestyle enters administration: A boutique hotel platform company based in London has entered administration after experiencing funding issues, with its business and assets now up for sale. Chic Lifestyle Limited entered administration on Thursday (26 July), with Andrew Stephen McGill and Adam Henry Stephens, of Smith & Williamson, appointed joint administrators. Chic Lifestyle operates an online market place for small independent boutique hotels under its own brand and provides a bespoke technology and digital marketing platform. The platform offers a unique collection of curated independent boutique hotels to the discerning traveller, which represents a fast-growing segment of the online travel market. The company charges a SaaS fee to small independent boutique hotels to join the platform, helping them market and manage their room availability and rates to maximise levels of occupancy and revpar. The company also charges commission for all bookings through the platform. The business had a headcount of 23 at its peak and all staff have now been made redundant following the administrators’ appointment. McGill said: “The next round of funding couldn’t be completed so the company needed to explore alternative options, which culminated in the directors taking steps to place the company into administration. We have engaged a small team to maintain the platform and allow the business to continue operating while we seek interested parties to acquire the business and assets. We have already identified a list of potential parties in the sector and are directly approaching possible buyers, advertising on a business sale platform plus word-of-mouth marketing through our contacts in the technology sector.”
Domino’s partners with e-sports company Gfinity: Domino’s Pizza has partnered with e-sports company Gfinity. The company is now presenting partner for the Gfinity Challenger and Elite Series UK. The agreement runs until December 2020 and is the largest commercial deal in Gfinity’s history. Domino’s will have an in-show presence throughout the 80 hours of live Fifa, Rocket League and Street Fighter V broadcasts. In addition, it will receive bespoke content, broadcast and digital assets, player shirt-sleeve branding, social media activations, customer relationship management, ticketing and hospitality. Garry Cook, executive chairman of Gfinity, said: “We are delighted to have entered into a multi-year strategic partnership with Domino’s. It is testament to the continued growth of e-sports and the quality of the Gfinity Elite Series. E-sports has become the entertainment of choice for brands looking to connect with young adult consumers – it is exciting, growing and full of opportunity. We look forward to working with Domino’s to create innovative ways to bring even more excitement and interest in the Elite Series.”
Diageo to launch £2bn share buyback: Diageo is set to launch a £2bn share buyback programme after reporting a “strong, consistent performance” in its full-year results. The company reported net sales of £12.2bn for the year ended 30 June 2018, up 0.9% on 2017, with operating profit up 3.7% to £3.7bn. Organic net sales were up 5%, with organic volume rising 2.5%. Alongside the results, the Diageo board has approved a share buyback programme to return up to £2bn to shareholders during the year ending 30 June 2019. Diageo chief executive Ivan Menezes said: “Diageo has delivered another year of strong, consistent performance. Organic volume and net sales growth is broad-based across regions and categories. We have expanded organic operating margin while increasing investment behind our brands ahead of organic net sales growth.”
Real Junk Food Manchester to launch waste food catering business: The Manchester branch of the not-for-profit Real Junk Food Project is to launch a waste food catering business in September. Real Junk Food Manchester (RJFM) plans to use unused food to offer catering and meal services. The project opened the city’s first “food waste” restaurant in Ancoats last year. Founder and director Corin Bell told Verdict: “The year we have spent running the restaurant has been amazing – a huge social and economic experiment we have learned so much from. We’ve been astounded by the welcome we’ve received and proud of the sense of community and inclusion we’ve created. What we want to do now is take everything we’ve learned and do more.” The new business will focus on commercial outside catering services. RJFM will set up the venture in a large commercial kitchen as part of its partnership with a Manchester social housing provider.
Nottingham-based street food trader to open first restaurant for gourmet burger and rub concept: Nottingham-based street food trader Tom Bohn is to open the first restaurant for his gourmet burger and rub concept Bohns. Bohn has secured the former home of Malaysian restaurant Nada Budaya in Broad Street following its recent closure. Bohn spent six months working at a barbecue restaurant in Canada where he learned how rubs and sauces can enhance the flavour of the meat. Returning to the UK, he worked on private yachts before setting up his own business with his future father-in-law Jeff Neads, creating and supplying rubs to farm shops, butchers and delis across the UK. As well as catering at festivals, events and street food markets, Bohns had a year-long stint at a bar in Derby. Once up and running, the burger menu will be expanded to include low and slow-cooked pulled pork and beef brisket. Bohn hopes to open the venue, which will have up to 50 seats, in early October. He told the Nottingham Post: “We are going for a speakeasy-type vibe – cool and rustic with lots of wood cladding and brickwork.”