Chestnut Group aiming to triple turnover and develop some concepts into brands: Philip Turner, founder and chief executive of Suffolk-based hospitality company Chestnut Group, has told Propel he aims to triple the £5m annual turnover of the business and is keen to develop some of its concepts into brands. The company opened its fourth site last week – The Northgate in Bury St Edmunds – with work about to start on its fifth, the Three Blackbirds in Woodditton, Cambridgeshire. Turner, who is a former banker and corporate financier, said he was keen to continue expanding the business, which he established in 2012, in its East Anglian heartland as it looked to grow turnover to £15m. He added: “We have the platform in place, both operationally and financially, to accelerate expansion if we want to. At the moment I’ve got my eye on one or two sites but there’s nothing concrete. I think we have the capability to have up to two sites in development at once. I’ve not really got a target number of sites in mind. I’m more focused on growing the revenue. We have a range of properties and concepts within the business and, as we grow, I’d like to develop one or two of them into a recognised brand. In terms of expansion, there’s nothing we won’t look at. As I said we have the platform so we could deal with a bigger acquisition if we wanted but it would have to fit in with what we are trying to develop.” Turner said the company would concentrate on expanding in the East Anglia region with a mix of country and town centre sites but they had to be the “right properties”. He added: “We are gradually building out from west to east. We haven’t got anything in Norfolk yet and there is also the area around the Suffolk coast. Then we can start coming down – Essex is a huge opportunity for us. We can also look to go the other way into Northamptonshire. There is a big enough opportunity in this region for us so we are focused on that rather than going outside. We have a strategy and are sticking to it.” The company raised £2.5m under the government’s Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) funding in August but Turner said the company was unlikely to go down that route again. He said: “The changes to the way EIS works means we are going to look at other ways. It’s going to be a mix of less equity and a bit more debt as we go into our second stage of growth. I was reluctant to use bank debt to grow until we were a recognised operation.”

Hickory’s to open second Star Pubs & Bars site: Hickory’s, the American-style smokehouse and barbecue restaurant group backed by Piper Private Equity, has taken on The Coach And Horses in Castle Bromwich in the West Midlands. It is the group’s second site with Star Pubs & Bars – its first being the former Peeping Tom in Burton Green, near Coventry. The Chester-based group is making a significant investment to transform the pub into a 7,000 square foot, Southern-style smokehouse and barbecue restaurant. It will be the group’s largest site and the first to feature Hickory’s “new look” following a brand refresh with hospitality brand consultants Keane. The new incarnation will include open fire-pits and pit masters, a live-action chefs’ bar, outdoor barbecue area, heated veranda, cinema room and neighbourhood bar. Building work has started, with the new Hickory’s set to open in February, creating more than 60 jobs. Since opening as a Hickory’s in June, trade at the Burton Green site has more than tripled. Hickory’s director John Welsh said: “We have been delighted with the performance of Burton Green. Our Castle Bromwich site will be our third foray into the Midlands and, despite our Wallheath site burning down in late August, it has been a great move to increase our footprint in the area! With eight years of research and over 14 trips to the Southern states under our belts, we are constantly evolving and authenticity will always be at the core of what we do. We are really looking forward to a busy 2017 of rebuilds and new openings across the region.” Lawson Mountstevens, managing director of Star Pubs & Bars, added: “The Coventry Hickory’s has been a great success so we’re delighted to be working with the team to create a second Hickory’s site, helping the group realise its vision of opening 12 restaurants by 2019.” The first Hickory’s opened in Chester in 2009.

Duo behind Michelin-starred Pidgin launch Enfant Terrible, in Hackney: James Ramsden and Sam Herlihy, the duo behind Michelin-starred Pidgin, have opened Enfant Terrible in Hackney, east London. A barber’s shop by day and bar by night, the Greenwood Road venue offers a daily changing wine list, cocktails and bar snacks. In a nod to the new generation of Parisian wine bars, Ramsden said Enfant Terrible was a “gonzo take on the tiny wine bars of Paris – irreverent, exuberant and unpretentious”. The bar comprises 12 metal counter stools tucked beneath a wood-topped bar and shelves stocked with the day’s bottles. A hangover from the barber’s shop, a large mirror provides a backdrop for standing drinkers while copper pendant lights illuminate the floor-to-ceiling window. Bar snacks include tins of smoked oysters with chilli crisp and lime, and cognac and kampot pepper caramel brownie. The wine list changes daily and focuses on lesser-known regions and grapes. The cocktail list features Smoke Off The Mountain (Chartreuse, Ron Zacapa, Lagavulin 16-year-old whisky and vermouth), alongside Pidgin signatures such as Pidgin G&T and barrel-aged Negroni.

Derby-based Secret Dining Company extends Enterprise partnership with third site: Derby-based The Secret Dining Company has extended its partnership with Enterprise Inns by taking on a third site, its fourth in total. Secret Dining Company will redevelop Chesterfield pub the Crooked Spire and reopen it in March as The Rectory following a “six-figure investment”. As part of expansion plans, the company has appointed Gez McCormick as operations manager. McCormick spent more than ten years at Marston’s as a business development manager for the Midlands region. The Secret Dining Company managing director Martin Roper said: “We’re pleased and excited to be working with Enterprise Inns for a third time. The Rectory will bring our cutting-edge gastro-pub, cask ale and craft keg offer to this iconic Derbyshire town as we look to develop and expand our vibrant brand.” Roper still fronts punk rock band Anti-Pasti, who recently headlined shows in Belgium and France to promote their new album Rise Up. The Secret Dining Company also operates The Crossing in Burton-on-Trent, and the Silk Mill Ale & Cider House and Exeter Arms, both in Derby.

New York clam shack Extra Fancy to start Shoreditch ‘surf and turf war’ with Blues Kitchen: The team behind New York clam shack Extra Fancy will join forces with Columbo Group-owned barbecue brand The Blues Kitchen for Surf & Turf Wars, a series of exclusive dinners in Shoreditch. For three nights starting on Monday, 30 January each restaurant will create six dishes, with Extra Fancy serving the “surf” side of the duel at The Blues Kitchen site in Curtain Road and the “home team” delivering the “turf” side with six authentic Texan barbecue dishes. Those dishes are likely to include Extra Fancy’s signature New England lobster bake (lobster tail, clams, shrimp, mussels, sausage, corn on the cob, and potatoes) and The Blue Kitchen’s burnt ends (slow-cooked beef brisket glazed with beer and hickory barbecue sauce). Mixologists from both sides of the Pond will also produce three unique cocktails for the events. Restaurateur Mark Rancourt opened Extra Fancy in 2012. The Columbo Group, led by Steve Ball and Riz Shaik, also operates Blues Kitchen venues in Camden and Brixton.

Strada invests in Vidleos app to nurture team talent: Strada has become the first company to embrace mobile training via the Vidleos app, which enables staff to learn and develop skills through video. The cloud-based platform is available round the clock on any Android or Apple device, giving team members instant access to subjects such as food safety, EPOS training and new menus. The app leads to less reliance on structured training days and more freedom for team members to learn when it suits them. Strada head of people Esher Williams said: “One of the main opportunities when I joined the business in February was the potential for a more dedicated focus on learning and development. We held focus groups to understand what those within the business wanted and identified passionate people desperate for something new. We worked on identifying the most urgent needs and engaged with Vidleos to deliver an ambitious filming schedule. The Strada and Vidleos teams worked together to create content we feel is fresh, engaging and fun. We now feel we are firmly focused towards a new mobile learning culture.” Vidleos chief executive and co-founder John Mason added: “We’re really excited about the start we have made with Strada, we have made some amazing videos together and we look forward to being closely involved in the rest of its learning journey.”

Kained Holdings reopens Glasgow pub made famous by Trainspotting movie: Glasgow-based operator Kained Holdings has reopened the city’s Crosslands pub – made famous by a scene in the film Trainspotting. Renamed The Kelbourne Saint, the pub in Queen Margaret Drive now features a rotisserie for chicken and pork, with a rotating menu of Mediterranean small plates. There is also a craft tank beer system, with beer transported directly from West Brewery to two 500-litre tanks in the pub that feed brewery-fresh beer directly into the taps. To retain the Trainspotting heritage, Kained Holdings has reinstated the glass rack seen in the movie, where Begbie, played by Robert Carlyle, launches a pint glass from the balcony, causing a brawl. Kained Holdings is set to open two further venues in Glasgow – a pub serving Mexican street food and its first deli – both in Argyle Street – that will be a not-for-profit business training people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Kained Holdings managing director Graham Suttle told the Evening Times: “Months of consultation went into everything from the food and drink, right down to the decor and service.” The company employs more than 150 staff across its seven outlets, which include Lebowskis, The Craft Pig, and Porter & Rye.

Loungers opens Swansea seafront site: Loungers has opened its 76th venue, this time on Swansea seafront at the new Oyster Wharf development. Croeso Lounge is the second for Loungers in the Welsh city, with Zinco Lounge opening in Princess Way little more than a year ago. Loungers has spent £610,000 to transform the site into a “family-friendly, retro-inspired cosy retreat”. The decor features kitsch paintings and artwork, while the venue also has dramatic views of Swansea Bay. The multimillion-pound Oyster Wharf development will also house Prezzo, private equity-backed restaurant group Bistrot Pierre, and Mediterranean-inspired bar restaurant La Parrilla. Loungers operations manager Jeremy Burton-Dickie told the South Wales Evening Post: “Oyster Wharf is a beautiful development. We’re in an enviable position on the waterfront so I’m sure Croeso Lounge is going to be a huge hit.” Last month, Loungers said it was set to sell a large stake in the business in a £150m deal. Founders Alex Reilley and Jake Bishop said they had drawn the interest of buyout firms Equistone and Inflexion Private Equity. Pub chains Fuller’s and Greene King have also been mooted as potential buyers. The next Loungers sites due to open are in Birmingham, Cheadle and Exeter.

Molson Coors wins five-year Center Parcs contract: Molson Coors has signed a five-year contract to supply beer, cider and craft products to holiday park operator Center Parcs’ five UK villages. The companies will also look to build a bespoke marketing plan to tie in with seasonal initiatives and national sporting events. Martyn Cozens, director of independent on-premise at Molson Coors, said: “We’re looking forward to a successful five years, offering a wide portfolio of beers and ciders to Center Parcs’ guests.” Center Parcs head of procurement Martyn Smith added: “Molson Coors demonstrated an insight-led approach to our business, with a focus on offering the right brands, based mostly on consumer behaviour. We were impressed by its knowledge of the latest and future market and macro trends, which will help us ensure our guests are getting what they want while on a short break with us.”

Vision Developments to launch garage-themed pop-up bar in Manchester Masonic hall: Manchester-based Vision Developments is set to launch a garage-themed pop-up in the city’s Masonic hall in Bridge Street ahead of completion of its £7m redevelopment of the grade II-listed building. The company will reveal its full rebranding plans for Manchester Hall early next year, which is thought to include bars, restaurants, event spaces and a rooftop terrace. The 120-capacity pop-up bar – Garage – will launch on Saturday (3 December) and run until April in the hall’s former garage space opposite the Manchester House entrance. Staff will dress in mechanic’s overalls and serve cocktails such as the Spark Plug, Anti-Freeze and Throttle ‘n’ Piston. The space will also cater for private events for up to 80 people. Vision Developments owner Stephen Cliff told Manchester Confidential: “We’re occupying what was a former garage space so we thought we’d have a bit of fun with the theme. We’re aiming to be a bit of light relief and give people a chance to come down, have a few drinks and have a real laugh in a bar that’s not taking itself too seriously.”

Wadworth crowns its ‘best of the best’: Brewer and retailer Wadworth has recognised the stand-out pubs and people from its managed and tenanted estates at the company’s Best of the Best Awards. The annual event took place this week at The Bear Hotel in Devizes, Wiltshire, with winners including the Beehive in Yeovil (community pub of the year); Richard Jennings, of the Pheasant in Chippenham (best manager); and Matthew Rae, of the George Inn, Bath (apprentice of the year). Wadworth chief executive Chris Welham said: “Winners have been chosen throughout our estate for their continued commitment to making their customers’ days and ensuring their pub is the very best in their area. It’s a fantastic atmosphere, with managers, business partners and team members from across the company all joining to celebrate together. I’d like to thank everyone at Wadworth for their continued passion, commitment and dedication.” Wadworth owns and operates more than 200 pubs in the south west. The family-owned company has produced beer at its Victorian brewery in Devizes since 1875 and still makes local deliveries using shire horses.

Eden Hotel Collection puts Devon site on market for £2.75m: The Eden Hotel Collection has put the Buckland Tout-Saints in Devon up for sale at a guide price of £2.75m. The three AA star-rated country hotel in Kingsbridge is being marketed by agent Savills. The hotel has 16 en-suite bedrooms and is set in 4.5 acres of tended gardens and woodland, including a croquet lawn and helipad. In the hotel is a large lounge, a self-contained function suite that accommodates 120 covers and the Queen Anne Restaurant, which holds two AA rosettes. Martin Rogers, head of UK hotel transactions at Savills, said: “The iconic Buckland Tout-Saints is a fantastic example of a successful country house hotel. It is well known and respected in the area and we expect high levels of interest in the property. The self-contained Kestrel Suite and Queen Anne Restaurant ensure there are additional income streams to complement the room bookings.”

Greggs completes work on Enfield distribution centre: Bakery business Greggs has completed work on a new distribution centre in Enfield, Hertfordshire. The new centre will improve efficiency and increase capacity for delivery of bakery products as well as shop consumables such as coffee cups and paper bags to Greggs stores in the south. Clegg Food Projects worked with Greggs to select a suitable site for the new centre as well as design and extend the distribution warehouse. John Moxon, Clegg Food Projects business development director, told The Business Desk: “The distribution centre at Enfield has been developed from an existing distribution facility that has been extended, altered and refurbished to meet Greggs’ needs and marks our 19th project with the food-on-the-go retailer. It’s been a significant project for Greggs and a significant project for us, long may our relationship continue.”

TGI Friday’s expands soft drinks offer: TGI Friday’s has expanded its soft drinks offer by introducing two new ranges. The company has added Purity Drinks’ Juiceburst and Firefly drinks to its menu. A TGI Friday’s spokesman said: “Adding Juiceburst to our portfolio of soft drinks means we can offer our guests an interesting soft option with some exciting flavours to choose from that are one of their five a day and with no added sugar. At TGI Friday’s you can choose from orange and passion fruit, cloudy apple or blood orange. Firefly’s revitalising drinks with botanical extracts and unique flavour combinations really stood out to us and is a great addition to our soft drinks range. It is a perfect match for TGI Friday’s and proving very popular with our guests, who can choose from kiwi, lime and mint, peach and green tea, or lemon, lime and ginger.”

Bibendum launches wine pricing insights tool: UK drinks distributor Bibendum has launched a wine pricing insights tool. The Pricing Database will help the company advise customers to list the right products at the right price without having to rely on trial and error. It monitors every wine and price for more than 100 of the UK’s biggest eating out and drinking out brands. Using the tool, the team can analyse listings by country, grape, region, tasting note, serve and price, enabling them to present customers with a more complete picture of the market. It can identify opportunities for customers to make more from their own wine lists, such as an opening to introduce something new or highlight sectors where consumers may be happy to pay a more premium price. Bibendum has trialled the new tool with select customers during the past few months, leading to one premium London venue overhauling its list pricing in the run-up to Christmas. Bibendum head of market insight Alex Linsley said: “We want to help our customers understand the wider market and price their products accordingly to make sure they reap the rewards. As with all of our tools, the Pricing Database can be applied in different ways with the same goal – to work with our customers to provide the best drinks offer for their customers, enticing them to come back for more.”