Coffer Peach Tracker – Britain’s eating and drinking-out market continues slowdown in April, like-for-likes up 2.5% at restaurants but down 2.7% at pubs: Britain’s eating and drinking-out market continued to slow in April, according to latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker. Collective like-for-like sales across managed pub and restaurant groups were down 0.8% against the same month last year, and follow a modest 0.6% increase in March. While restaurant groups saw like-for-like trading increase 2.5%, pub groups experienced a 2.7% decline on April last year. Regionally, London outperformed the rest of Britain, with like-for-likes up 1% against a 1.3% fall outside the M25. “April’s performance can in part be put down to the cold weather, to Easter being in March rather than April this year and also to the general slowdown in the wider economy in the run-up to the Brexit vote, but the underlying fact is the overall market has been essentially flat since the start of the year, with April’s numbers coming on the back of zero growth in February and only a small uptick in March,” said Peter Martin, vice-president of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker in partnership with Coffer Group, RSM and UBS. Martin added: “The cold weather in the month also helps to explain why restaurants did better than pubs, as poor weather always tends to favour restaurants and good weather favours pubs. But taken together we are seeing a slowdown in market growth. Industry sentiment at the start of the year was that 2016 was going to be a tougher year than last, and that seems to be panning out. Optimism levels among operators are still positive, but down on 2015.” Total sales for the month among the 31 companies in the Tracker cohort were up 3.1% on 2015, reflecting the fact groups are still opening new sites, if at a slower rate than previously. The underlying annual trend shows sector like-for-likes running at 1.5% up for the 12 months to the end of April. Trevor Watson, executive director, valuations at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “The global business environment is now learning to deal with a period of long-term uncertainty. This has led to UK economic indicators weakening – it is not just about Brexit. Announcements from Tata Steel, BHS and Austin Reed are all leading to more cautious consumer sentiment. Against this background, the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker statistics are only to be expected. With the number of new openings continuing to exceed closures, the pressure on operators is unlikely to diminish for the rest of the year.” Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, added: “This month’s figures again show a disappointing like-for-like trend, particularly outside of London. This slowdown in growth is in part driven by an increasing number of exciting new concepts taking market share from the established, mainstream operators whose results dominate the Business Tracker. This disruption is provoking these operators to review their brand portfolios and is driving increasing trade mergers and acquisitions activity in the sector, as witnessed by Whitbread acquiring a stake in Pure and PizzaExpress acquiring upmarket pizza delivery chain Firezza. We see this trend set to continue throughout the remainder of the year.”




Short sellers target UK hospitality operators as EU referendum clouds sector – market analyst: Short sellers have targeted UK hospitality operators as the impending EU referendum and newly enacted National Living Wage cloud the sector, according to Markit research analyst Simon Colvin. He said Whitbread and The Restaurant Group had seen the largest jump in short interest across the sector, while consumer services FTSE 350 constituents had seen an average 30% increase in short interest in the year to date. Colvin said: “Most of the surge in shorting activity has occurred in the weeks since the referendum was announced in February and short sellers show no signs of slowing. The two firms which underpin the recent spike in short interest are Whitbread and The Restaurant Group. Whitbread, which is by far the biggest of the two, has underperformed the FTSE 100 by more than 7% in the year to date and has been one of the most vocal corporate proponents of the ‘Remain’ campaign. Its short interest has climbed by more than 500% in the year to date to 3.1% of shares outstanding. The most recent spike in short interest marks the first time short sellers have borrowed more than 3% of the company’s shares since 2009. The Restaurant Group has seen its shares fall by more than 50% in the year to date in the wake of three profits warnings. This dire share price performance has seen short sellers double their positions to 4.5% of the company’s outstanding shares.” Colvin added that Marston’s and JD Wetherspoon were also in the top five most shorted FTSE 350 index companies. Short sellers pay a fee to borrow shares which they sell in the belief they can buy them back later at a reduced price as they fall in value – and can pocket the difference before returning them to their original owner.




Cathy Price named Beer Drinker of the Year: Cathy Price has been named “Beer Drinker of the Year” by the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group. The presentation was made at the Beer Group’s Annual Awards Dinner in Westminster, which attracted more than 200 MPs, peers and senior industry figures. Presenting the award, Beer Group chairman Andrew Griffiths, MP for Burton on Trent, said: “In 2011, when Cathy learned that the Red Lion is the most popular pub name in the country, she set herself the challenge of visiting every single one of them. This was no small task as there are 656 of them spread across the length and breadth of the country; from Penzance in Cornwall to Fochabers by the River Spey in the north of Scotland. She completed her challenge last September and used every opportunity during her quest to highlight the pivotal role pubs play in our communities – in interviews with newspapers, radio and TV. She has published a book, The Red Lioness, describing the pubs she visited in vivid detail. Cathy enjoyed a half-pint in every Red Lion she visited which, by my calculation, adds up to 328 pints of beer, making her perfectly qualified to be our Beer Drinker of the Year.” The Beer Group also presented its other awards – Brewer of the Year: John Keeling, head brewer at Fuller’s; Lifetime Achievement: Yaser Martini, Team Margot; Beer Parliamentarian of the Year: Roy Kennedy, Baron Kennedy of Southwark; Pub Parliamentarian of the Year: Victoria Prentis, MP for Banbury; PubAid Award: Greene King.




Britons are ‘least adventurous eaters’ in Europe: Britons are least likely to sample local food when abroad, with only 57% of adults willing to eat local dishes, according to a survey. The UK came bottom of a list of 14 European countries studied and well below the 79% average. The survey of 14,000 people in 14 countries found the Spanish and French were the most open-minded eaters in Europe, with 94% having tried local cuisine or foods they had not previously heard of while on holiday. Finland was the only nation surveyed that scored close to the UK, with 59%. Despite being less adventurous while overseas, food was still a big priority for Britons, according to the survey, with almost a third saying it influenced where they went on holiday. Brits were most open-minded to Italian food, followed by Spanish, but far more hesitant when it came to Japanese or Vietnamese cuisine. The research was commissioned by Expedia as part of its “Europe on a plate” campaign, which aims to help people expand their food horizons. Alex Platts, commercial director of northern Europe for Brand Expedia, said: “Europe on a plate encourages people to find and try new foods they normally might not and create new memories and experiences to come back with from any trip away.”




JD Wetherspoon launches takeaway tea and coffee service at 99p a cup: JD Wetherspoon has expanded the beverage side of its business by selling takeaway teas and coffees – for 99p each. The company, which sells more than 50 million cups of coffee each year, has launched the initiative across its 950 pubs. Until the launch, tea and coffee was served mainly as part of the chain’s breakfast menu, with refillable coffees alongside a traditional English breakfast a popular option. The company said a survey by Allegra Strategies in February placed JD Wetherspoon as “the UK’s leading coffee shop in terms of speed of service, food choice, value for money and low prices”. Its website stated the company only used freshly ground lavazza beans in its coffee, which is also Rainforest Alliance certified. Its tea offering comes from Tetley. JD Wetherspoon chief executive John Hutson said: “Our coffee is extremely popular with customers. We sell around a million cups a week in our pubs across the UK, and believe customers will welcome the opportunity to enjoy a takeaway cup too, at 99p.”




Shake Shack ‘beyond excited’ over trading results at first California venue: The first California location for Shake Shack has drawn such long queues and strong sales the chain is increasing expectations for new unit sales and boosting its unit growth plans in California, Nation’s Restaurant News reports. The magazine stated: “Randy Garutti, the chain’s chief executive, said the West Hollywood opening was ‘one of the strongest openings in our 12-year history’. The New York City-based chain is now planning four additional locations in southern California through 2017, with units planned for Glendale, Hollywood, Century City and downtown Los Angeles. Executives said on the company’s earnings call that queues at the West Hollywood location had been over an hour long since early March.” Garutti said: “LA is performing well above expectations. We’re beyond excited about the acceptance of Shake Shack.” The strong opening in Los Angeles, along with two locations in Arizona, gives the company more confidence its new units outside its home market of Manhattan will open to stronger volumes than previously expected. New locations had previously opened with first-year volumes of $3.3m. The company now expects that to be $3.6m this year.




Love Drinks founder Kirsty Loveday shortlisted for First Women entrepreneur award: Kirsty Loveday, founder and managing director of drinks distributor Love Drinks, whose portfolio includes Hayman’s Gin, El Dorado Demerara Rum and Lanique Spirit Liqueur, has been shortlisted in the entrepreneur category of this year’s First Women Awards. The First Women Awards, launched by Real Business in 2005, are for senior-level businesswomen and professionals in the UK. The winners will be announced at a ceremony on Wednesday, 22 June at the Lancaster Hotel. Loveday said: “It’s always humbling to be recognised, especially amongst such a high calibre of fantastic women. I already feel I’ve won by being surrounded by and working with such a great team, all of whom deserve the biggest credit. I am especially proud to be able to demonstrate to others that nothing is impossible and, in turn, encourage people to realise their business dreams can come true.” In 2014, Loveday won the “outstanding entrepreneur” category in the Women 1st Shine Awards.




Employment minister Priti Patel calls for EU exit to ‘save our curry houses’: Employment minister Priti Patel has launched a “save our curry houses” appeal to combat the government’s “biased” immigration policy. She said taking back control of Britain’s immigration policies by voting “Leave” in next month’s European Union referendum would help stop the current situation of three-to-five curry restaurants closing a week. Patel warned curry restaurants were being starved of high-quality chefs by the government’s “biased” immigration policy, which caps the number of skilled workers from outside the EU. With David Cameron seeking to cut net migration to Britain to below 100,000, Patel said: “Uncontrolled immigration from the EU has led to tougher controls on migrants from the rest of the world. This means we cannot bring in the talents and the skills we need to support our economy. By voting to leave we can take back control of our immigration policies, save our curry houses and join the rest of the world.” Patel, who announced a “Save The British Curry Day” will take place in June, was backed by Enam Ali, founder of the British Curry Awards and Spice Magazine, and Pasha Khandaker, president of the Bangladesh Caterers Association.




Miller Brands UK boss – emergence of craft beer and quality food offerings in restaurants behind growth in super-premium beers: Miller Brands UK chief executive Gary Haigh has told Propel the emergence of craft beer and quality food offerings in restaurants is behind the growth in super-premium beers. The company, which is the UK and Ireland division of SABMiller, saw revenue increase 5% and volumes rise 3% in the year ending 31 March. It said £1 in every £4 spent on beer in London is on a super-premium brand and Haigh believed customers are prepared to pay more for a pint – as long as it meets five points. He said: “It has to have authenticity, great taste, and a brand story – craft beer does that really well as does the super-premium spirits. It also needs to have a visual identity and, of course, ensure you get a quality pint in a nice glass, consistently. If you get those five then you can have a sixth – price. People expect and are happy to have to pay a higher price given the quality. It’s something craft beers have really helped with. The quality of the food offering has also helped with restaurants using natural, fresh ingredients. We have already seen the growth of super-premium spirits and now beer is heading in the same direction as consumers seek genuine, authentic taste and a story behind their beer.” Haigh said he was delighted with the performance of the company’s three main beers in its authentic and imported portfolio – Italian brand Peroni and its two Czech offerings, Pilsner Urquell and Kozel. All three brands achieved double-digit volume growth during the year. He added: “The critical thing with Pilsner Urquell Tank Beer is making sure the outlets we put it in are selling enough to keep it fresh because it is unpasteurised. What you get with it, though, is a phenomenal experience – it tastes as good as if you were drinking it in the Czech Republic. We now have ten outlets with tanks and it’s sold nearly a million pints.”




Greggs must provide toilet facilities after losing legal fight, ruling may force other takeaways to follow: Greggs must provide toilet facilities for customers after losing a legal fight with Hull City Council – paving the way for other takeaways to be forced to do the same. Mr Justice Kerr ruled in Hull City Council’s favour after analysing evidence at a High Court hearing in Leeds. The decision overturned Newcastle City Council guidance relating to toilet provision in food outlets – approved by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills’ Better Regulation Delivery Office – stating outlets such as Greggs, where “simple takeaway food was sold” but some seating was provided for customers who preferred to stay, “need not provide” bathroom facilities. The judge said: “The construction adopted by Newcastle is completely unsustainable. It is obvious if a person sits down in a Greggs outlet at the seats provided and proceeds to eat a pasty and a fizzy drink just purchased at the counter for that purpose, that is a normal use of the premises. The fact that most customers take away their purchases and those who stay do not normally stay long, does not change that.”




Ralph Findlay – development of our food offer is following successes in casual dining sector: Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay has told Propel development of the company’s food offer is adapting successful areas of the casual dining market. The company is now trialling a smokehouse offer at a site in Victoria opened in February called Low Slow and Juke, a premium fresh dough pizza offer is now available at 60 pubs, a rotisserie chicken offer has expanded to 40 pubs, and the company is now offering fresh smoothies as part of its non-alcoholic drinks range. Findlay described its new Generous George as the “Americanisation of the community pub”. He also told Propel the company had improved its burger offer after success at its Fire Station site in Waterloo. Findlay also reported the company’s franchise estate of 550 pubs was likely to grow by between 150 and 200 pubs in the medium term. Marston’s signaled it would step up its development standalone lodges co-located with its newbuild pub restaurants. It stated: “Having opened three in 2015, we will open at least five in 2016, with three open in the first half year. Looking forward, we expect accommodation to be increasingly important to our investment plans, and we are acquiring sites for development in 2017 and thereafter. The combination of pub-restaurant with an adjacent lodge is attractive in the context of increasing business and leisure travel.” Findlay said co-located lodges “smooth-out” trade at its pub restaurants and add an estimated £3,000 to £5,000 a week in business for the pub. (See below for analyst verdict)




Tesco adds Eleeni Savvi to Harris + Hoole board: Tesco has added Euphorium Bakery chief financial officer Eleeni Savvi to the board of directors of its coffee shop business Harris + Hoole – she previously worked as chief financial officer at Harris + Hoole for 20 months between June 2012 and January 2014. Savvi led the financial due diligence work for the recent share purchase of Euphorium. Previously, she led the project strategy and approach to unlock existing complex contractual restrictions with third- party outsourced contracts that ultimately led to the acquisition of the outsourced cafes from third parties (Elior and Compass) allowing Tesco Family Dining the opportunity to improve the in-store cafe experience. This involved overseeing all the commercial negotiations, leading to the acquisition of almost 300 cafes and leading teams to ensure a successful transition, covering property, operations, menu management, health and safety, finance, marketing and people, interacting and co-ordinating with three separate companies and multi-site teams. She also oversaw the direction of the people strategy under the deal structure ensuring fairness and legality for circa 2,500 employees affected. Robert Bray, people director of Tesco Hospitality and new business development, stepped down from the Harris + Hoole board last month.




Leon to open first Scottish site, debut high street venue outside London: Natural fast food brand Leon is set to open its first site in Scotland and debut high street venue outside London. The company, founded in 2004 by John Vincent and Henry Dimbleby, is launching in Buchanan Galleries in Glasgow in July, creating 25 jobs. Vincent said: “I have happy memories of Glasgow. It is a city with style, spirit and energy. Now I have an excuse to come more often. We have received a lot of requests from people in Glasgow asking for us to open in their home town – we hope we can do them proud and create a place they love. Glasgow will become the most northerly point on the Leon map, and our first high street store outside London so I’m looking forward to introducing a whole new audience to our fun and fresh fast food.” Emma Lawson, portfolio manager at Land Securities, which owns Buchanan Galleries, added: “Glasgow is a magnet for new culinary outlets and Buchanan Galleries is delighted to be home to the first Scottish Leon store. The naturally fast food offering they have created is something completely different and we are sure shoppers will love it.” Customers will be able to order Leon classics such as the Moroccan Meatball hotbox (served with brown rice and crispy slaw), the signature fish finger wrap, the “char-frilled” chicken burger with tarragon olive oil mayo, baked fries and the original superfood salad. Earlier this month, Leon’s accounts for the year ending December 2015 showed it opened 12 new sites, created 235 jobs and increased its like-for-like sales by an additional 7.8% on top of last year’s 23%. That brings its total increase of like-for-likes to almost 50% in three years. The company currently operates 35 sites.




London Union adds Model Market to portfolio: Model Market, a 1950s-style market transformed into an events venue, has joined the London Union portfolio and is available for hire. The south east London venue was a derelict 1950s market, which has been revamped to an events venue with the capacity for 800 delegates. The venue also features ten street food micro-diners and five different bars. Model Market features flexible event space that can cater to parties, product launches and teambuilding, offering a range of spaces and venue hire options for event professionals. Its range of bars include the Lewisham High Line rooftop bar, which can cater for outside events for up to 100 delegates. It also has Rum Shack, Craft Can Beer Bar, and wine bar Winyl. Event bookers can also hire Model Market’s line-up of street food traders, including Club Mexicana (vegan tacos), Rola Wala (mini Indian naan sliders), Up in My Grill (steak and chips) and Hotbox (all things meat). The venue is available for event hire from May to September and is a short walk from the Lewisham DLR and train station. London Union sales director Emma Howe said: “Model Market is a great addition to our summer offering for event bookers. The space is unique within our portfolio, offering a more intimate Street Feast experience in comparison with our bigger venues, which can hold up to 3,000 people.”




Punch looking to introduce ‘suite of menus’ to enhance food offer: Punch is looking to introduce a “suite of menus” across the business as it looks to enhance its food offer. Development director David Wigham told Propel most sites currently offered a bespoke menu and the company wanted to expand its offering. He said: “We are working with the catering team on a number of things as we look to get the right offer in place. We are looking at what we can do to improve the food offer across the estate. We’re particularly looking at sites where there is limited kitchen facilities – how do they make the most of the opportunity? We’re just about to trial a ventless fryer and we are looking to have a suite of menus across the business.” Punch is also looking to start expanding its new accommodation format following a successful trial at three sites in Scotland. Wigham said it would now extend the trial to a couple of sites in England for the concept, which involves an income-sharing agreement with the operators. He added: “All three sites, which includes the Portree Hotel on the Isle of Skye that was a winner at the Scottish Hotel Awards, have exceeded expectations in terms of trade. We will now extend that trial. We have 300 sites that have accommodation so there is an opportunity there.” Wigham said there was “still work to be done” with its Brewed & Baked licensed coffee shop concept before it was ready to be expanded, while it will open its seventh Champs sports bar next month in the north west of England. Wigham added: “We are currently looking at some new concepts and having a number of conversations as we look to expand our retail reach.”




Administrators appointed to Pickering country inn: Administrators have been appointed to an award-winning 16th century country inn located in the heart of the North Yorkshire Moors. Rob Sadler and Dave Broadbent, of Begbies Traynor in York, were appointed as joint administrators of White Horse Farm Inn in Pickering on Tuesday, 3 May. The ten-bedroom inn is surrounded by the North Yorkshire Moors and has panoramic views of the village of Rosedale Abbey. Complete with a bar and restaurant, in 2012 it was voted winner of Yorkshire’s favourite pub award. While the company was solvent, it was loss-making and, consequently, the shareholders made the decision to appoint Begbies Traynor as administrators and the business is now being marketed. It is continuing to trade under management while a buyer is sought.




Modern cuisine and whisky concept Jack’s Kitchen launches in Surbiton: Jack’s Kitchen, a concept focusing on global modern cuisine and whiskys of the world, has launched in Surbiton. The 250-cover restaurant in Portsmouth Road will serve breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, weekend brunch and an a la carte menu by head chef Akshay Sabharwal. Signature dishes include smoked scallops served in a smoke-filled glass dome, T-bone porterhouse steak with fries and a choice of five sauces, chargrilled Nova Scotia lobster, and tandoori guinea fowl with biriyani, celeriac and a spinach croquette. Alongside a range of carefully selected whiskys, the venue will also offer a selection of wines and cocktails. Jack’s Kitchen general manager Gagan Sharma said: “We are incredibly excited about launching our new concept and offering all our expertise in fine dining and hospitality.”




200 Degrees to open second site in Nottingham next month: Nottingham-based specialist coffee roaster and retailer 200 Degrees will open its second site in the city next month. The company, which has a venue in Flying Horse Walk, is launching the outlet in Carrington Street, on part of the site of a former Victorian hotel, close to the train station. The 45-seater coffee shop will have many similar features to the original 200 Degrees, with the addition of single seats. It will focus on takeaway service and therefore have a slightly different counter layout aimed at making collecting drinks easier. Customers will also be able to buy new takeaway options such as homemade porridge, and breakfast sandwiches. Set up in 2012 by friends Tom Vincent and Rob Darby, 200 Degrees roasts its own beans, which it supplies to cafes and restaurants around the UK, as well as supplying equipment such as commercial espresso machines. Vincent told the Nottingham Post: “Our first coffee shop seems to go from strength to strength every week. Being near-enough next to the station and the tram will mean new people through the door and there’s a need to be properly focused on takeaway service for people on the go.” 200 Degrees is also due to open a site in Birmingham later this month.




Stonegate launches new Yates’s spring/summer menu: Stonegate Pub Company has launched a new spring/summer menu across its Yates’s venues, with a fresh selection of dishes and cocktails and the introduction of sharing plates. Taking “influences from across the world”, Asian and South American street food and US-style sport snacks join traditional favourites to provide “something to suit all tastes”, the company said. New offerings on the menu include burritos, hunters chicken gourmet fries, and chicken wings. There are four new “Big Plates” – Giant Mixed Grill, Clucking ’Ell, Big Fish Combo and Double Rump Steak. Lighter options include cheese and courgette bake, and chicken and red pepper couscous. The cocktail offering has also been revamped, with 11 new drinks available and all sites offering two-for-one mix-and-match cocktails, as well as a new range of premium cocktails. Stonegate operates 52 Yates’s sites across the UK.




BrewDog launches new summer merchandise range: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has launched a new range of merchandise for the summer, including hats, hoodies, beer glasses and playing cards, with more items to follow. BrewDog said: “It’s time to look ahead to the long summer to come – so with that in mind we have a selection of knitted beanie hats and hoodies. And when/if the sun does make an appearance, we have some new tees and other shirts in stock as well.” The company is also offering a five-piece BrewDog glassware set, with a “pint glass, a stemmed schooner, a Jack Hammer IPA glass, a teku, and a snifter for those fireside beers”. Other new items include “Ace of Hops” playing cards, and a designer “give me hops or give me death” tote bag, as well as a lanyard and USB stick. BrewDog said extra items that will hit its online store in the next few months will include Neon Overlord T-shirts, featuring artwork to the forthcoming mango and chilli IPA, a Jet Black Heart T-shirt, new hoodies, check shirts, growlers, and can coolers.




Polpo to start serving brunch: London-based restaurant company Polpo is to start serving brunch at all of its sites from Saturday (21 May). The menu will include savoury dishes such as soft poached eggs and scafata, and wild garlic, mushroom and ricotta on toasted sourdough. Sweet options feature pastries and ricotta doughnuts and cinnamon sugar. Drinks will include fresh orange juice and the “Breakfast Bellini”, as well as a selection of hot drinks. The company, which opened its first site outside the capital in Brighton in December, is targeting five more openings this year having launched a venue at Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge in February.




Dirty Burger opens eighth site, biggest standalone venue: Dirty Burger has now opened in Coldharbour Lane, a four-minute walk from Brixton tube station. Dirty Burger Brixton is the biggest standalone site yet, including an outside south-facing garden area surrounded by fairy lights and walled pot plants. The 50-cover restaurant is the eighth Dirty Burger in London, with sister restaurants also in Barcelona and Chicago. The drinks menu includes homemade milkshakes through to ice cold beers on draught (Camden Hells, Four Pure and Amstel). At the weekend the breakfast menu includes sausage and egg muffins, bacon and egg muffins and avocado and tomato muffins. The site also includes a basement space inside the restaurant that seats up to ten and is available to hire for parties and events.




Friska set to open second Birmingham site: Independent healthy eating brand Friska has submitted plans to convert a former city centre bank into its second site in Birmingham. Friska only opened its inaugural Birmingham site – at Brindleyplace – in February, the company’s first site outside its home city of Bristol. Under plans submitted to the city council, the former Lloyds Bank Business Centre in Newhall Street would get a new-look façade and double doors. Friska could benefit from the redevelopment of the former NatWest Tower next door, The Business Desk reports. Friska was founded in 2009 by Griff Holland and Ed Brown and operates six stores in Bristol. In January, the company told Propel it was targeting three or four stores in Birmingham as it looked to build a cluster of sites in the city. It is also looking to move into Manchester and Leeds next year as part of nationwide expansion plans.




Enterprise inns invests £3m in Yorkshire pubs: Enterprise Inns has reported an investment of more than £3m across its Yorkshire estate during the first half of its financial year. The Ship Inn at Strensall benefited from a £130,000 investment from Enterprise and an additional £50,000 from long-standing publicans Martin and Irene Capeling, while The Elephant and Castle in Wakefield reopened after a joint investment with publican Tony Padgett, which saw £155,000 spent on the historic building. Both have experienced a significant uplift in trade following the work. In addition, The BAHT’AP in Leeds, run by multi-operator Stewart Taylor, and The Malt House in Rishworth run by Phil Hopkins, who operated Enterprise pubs ten years ago before rejoining the business this month, also benefited from investment. A £141,000 spend on the BAHT’AP has repositioned the pub from a venue frequented exclusively by football fans to become a quality venue with a focus on real ale and craft beer, while the Malt House has been completely transformed following a £40,000 investment from publican Phil and a £115,000 investment from Enterprise. The Malt House reopened last weekend (14 May).




Restaurateurs to launch Hawaiian concept Ahi Poké in Fitzrovia: Ahi Poké, a casual, all-day restaurant serving Hawaiian raw fish dish poké, will open in Fitzrovia in mid-June. The new concept is the brainchild of Jeremy Coste, Gabriel Cohen-Elia and David Bellaiche, the trio behind Mayfair’s NAC (North Audley Cantine) and wine bar Chez Chow. Ahi Poké will be a “fast casual, all-day dining space – offering eat in, grab and go, and delivery – that will embrace the ideals of nutrition, sustainability and variety”. Alongside signature dishes, diners will be able to build their own poké bowl, choosing a base (quinoa, sushi rice or red kale), and a protein (ahi tuna, sea bream, salmon or marinated mushrooms), as well as a sauce and toppings. Design at the 25-cover restaurant in Percy Street has been inspired by simple Hawaiian beach shacks crossed with the “laid-back poké bar vibe of Los Angeles”, where the team researched the concept. The design incorporates reclaimed wood and driftwood among bright white and nautical blue hues, with inside and outside seating. Sustainability will also translate into the packaging, the team said, with compostable containers used for all orders. Ahi Poké will open seven days a week, from 11.30am to 8pm.




Whitbread reveals £15m plans for Premier Inn at Cardiff Waterside regeneration project: Whitbread has revealed plans for a £15m Premier Inn at the Cardiff Waterside regeneration project in Cardiff Bay. Plans for the 210-bedroom hotel will be submitted next month. The proposed hotel is on available land at East Bute Street – overlooking the Wales Millennium Centre. Whitbread said the new hotel would create 68 jobs. The project will be funded by Aviva Investors, which owns the Cardiff Waterside estate and, subject to planning consent, Whitbread will enter into a long-term lease to operate the hotel. Premier Inn head of acquisitions Kevin Murray told Wales Online: “Premier Inn is expanding based on strong customer demand and the success of our format. Cardiff Waterside will bring another excellent location into play for our guests and provide more rooms and more choice in the city. It’s another great example of what Premier Inn can bring to mixed-use developments and how we can contribute to wider investment and regeneration projects.” Rob Jones, of property advisers Knight Frank, which is investment advisor to Aviva on Cardiff Waterside, said: “Premier Inn will play a key part in ensuring the thousands of people who visit Cardiff Bay annually, be they tourists experiencing the Wales Millennium Centre, business contacts or politicians from across Wales, can stay in its heart.”




Genting UK loses £56m in 2015 after revenues at premier London clubs fall by almost two-thirds: Casino operator Genting UK, which owns Resorts World Birmingham and operates 43 casinos in the country, lost £56m in 2015 after its premier clubs in London took in £100m less than a year earlier. Revenues at the company’s four London clubs fell by almost two-thirds, creating operating losses from those venues of £45m. Despite profitably improving trading at its Genting Club and Genting Casino sites around the country, which increased revenues by 15%, the group had pre-tax losses of £55.8m in 2015. Although the casinos attracted another 100,000 visitors, taking the annual total to 4.17 million, the average spend was down 29%. This was caused by a 64% fall in spend per head at its London sites, which fell by £285 to £160. Peter Brooks, Genting UK president and chief operating officer, told The Business Desk: “The focus of the group over the coming year includes strengthening the group’s position in the domestic business segment and improving business efficiency.” Genting opened Resorts World Birmingham in October, a £150m development at the NEC which includes a hotel, casino, cinema, conferencing facility, shops, restaurants and bars. Genting UK is part of Malaysian gaming business Genting Berhad.




Three Novus Leisure venues selected to join London Wine Week: Three Novus Leisure venues have been selected to take part in London Wine Week. The company’s Bury Court and Gow’s Restaurant, which both operate under its Balls Brothers brand, along with Premium Bar & Kitchen’s The Sterling, have been chosen as part of the 133 sites featuring in the week-long event, which launches on Monday (23 May). Each bar will offer £5 wine flights, alongside bespoke offers for customers wearing a festival wristband. Bury Court will be celebrating its favourite reds across the classic regions of France, featuring three favourites – Côtes du Rhône Villages Séguret, Les Laurons, Jean-Luc Colombo 2013/14 Rhone, France; the Bourgogne Pinot Noir, Bouchard Aîné & Fils 2013; and the Château Montcabrier, Bordeaux Supérieur 2011/12. Gow’s Restaurant will showcase offerings from Italy – Gavi di Gavi, Enrico Serafino 2014 – and France – a Chablis, Bouchard Aîné & Fils 2013/14 and a Picpoul de Pinet, Les Girelles, Jean-Luc Colombo 2013/2014. The Sterling will have a Vidal Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand; Signature du Cleray, Chenin Blanc, Anjou Sauvion from the Loire Valley in France, and the Rare Vineyards Marsanne Viognier, Pays D’Oc, France. Novus Leisure head of marketing Sorrel Ward said: “The dedicated team at London Wine Week has recognised our thirst for wine and excellence, which we look forward to bringing to the table for our customers. Our inclusion is testament to the hard work and dedication from our teams at Balls Brothers London and Premium Bar & Kitchen, who are passionate about creating a great wine experience for our customers.”




Wynn Ellis – Marston’s a company ‘confident in current trading’: Numis Securities leisure analyst Wynn Ellis said his over-riding impression from the Marston’s analysts’ meeting following the release of its interim results on Wednesday (18 May) was that of a “company confident in current trading, in its strategy and in its improving financial metrics”. He said the company was “relaxed about its own position” within the sector, with Marston’s “gently outperforming pretty much across all segments and comfortable with the current consumer demand backdrop and the competitive environment”. Maintaining a 185p price target, Ellis said: “Marston’s sees sector supply growth slowing in 2017 and is relaxed about its own position – it continues to focus on geographic and market segments that have not been supply hot spots. The consumer outlook is considered to be reasonably favourable, but getting price increases through is tough – unless they are ‘earned’ in some way, such as through innovation or service development. Innovation is benefiting the Destination & Premium (D&P) estate as Marston’s adapts some of the best aspects of casual dining – rotisseries, pizzas (60 pubs now with pizza ovens), burger concepts, smokehouses and smoothies. A lot of work is being done to adapt and evolve the offer and the sector in general is improving in quality, service standards and customer satisfaction. Marston’s remains ahead of the curve. Growth is focused on four key areas – pub newbuilds (circa 20 per annum); broadening the appeal with innovation; taking more control (greater proportion of managed and franchised) to improve profit per pub; and growing the accommodation offer (five-plus lodges per annum and at 60 to 80 beds rather than 40 historically). In first half, there was strong growth in Taverns profitability (average profit per pub +12%), reflecting the sale of poor performers and continued franchise success. Of the 828-strong Taverns estate, circa 550 are under Franchised agreements and, over time, management expects all will move to Franchised. Market Rent Option (MRO) legislation is not quite finalised, but the leased estate represents only 14% of total pub profits. Licensee relationships are generally strong but a small number of wet-led, low-rent pubs may be at risk. Management expects to see a small increase in cost to administer MRO but does not expect a material change to profit from MRO. Our 2016E profit before tax forecasts are unchanged and based on 2.5% like-for-like sales growth and flat margins in D&P; 2.5% like-for-like sales growth in Taverns; 2.5% like-for-like profit growth in Leased; and 2% like-for-like growth in own-brewed volumes.




Starbucks employees benefiting from new rental scheme aimed at tackling high cost of living: Starbucks employees are benefiting from a new rental scheme aimed at helping them tackle the high cost of living. The company has had the first applicants for its Home Sweet Loan programme – an initiative developed by Shelter and Generation Rent as the Tenancy Deposit Loan Scheme. It is the first private company to offer the programme, which aims to help employees, particularly under 25 years old, tackle the cost of living by providing interest-free loans that can be paid back over 12 months. The programme is available to partners (staff members) in company-owned Starbucks UK stores who have been with the business for at least a year and would like to apply for a loan to help pay their rental deposit. Starbucks will loan a maximum amount of one month’s wages, paid within four weeks of application, to be repaid during the course of a year. Lisa Robbins, Starbucks director, partner resources, said: “Since launching the Home Sweet Loan rental deposit scheme to our partners, we’ve seen a very positive response. Designed to ease the process of moving into a new home, a time when we know finances are stretched, we’re really pleased our first applicants have been able to benefit from the loan.”




Former Bacardi boss to become Diageo chairman: Javier Ferrán, a former chief executive of rum-maker Bacardi, has been named the new chairman of Diageo. Ferrán, who is currently a partner at private equity investor Lion Capital, will join Diageo’s board next month as a non-executive director before taking over as chairman from Dr Franz Humer on 1 January, reports the Financial Times. Ferrán, who has been at Lion Capital since 2005, is also on the board of brewer SABMiller, which has agreed to a £71bn takeover by Anheuser-Busch InBev. He will not seek re-election at SAB’s annual general meeting in July, Diageo said. Lord Davies of Abersoch, Diageo’s senior non-executive director, said: “Javier has experience across the consumer sector, given his career at both Lion Capital and Bacardi, and has demonstrated his ability to enable companies to drive value through the rigorous deployment of capital. On behalf of the board, I want to extend our thanks to Franz who has been our chairman for the past eight years during which time he has guided Diageo to the leadership position it has today. The board looks forward to Javier’s chairmanship as he builds on all that Franz has achieved.” Diageo chief executive Ivan Menezes added: “Diageo is executing a clear strategy with discipline in order to deliver accelerated top line growth, greater productivity and continued strong cash flow. I look forward to working with Javier as we build Diageo’s leadership position and achieve our ambition.”