National Living Wage – Young’s increases pint of beer by 10p to cover cost, Le Pain Quotidien ends paid breaks: London-based pub retailer Young’s said it had increased the price of a pint by 10p to cover the new National Living Wage rather than cutting staff perks. The flat 10p price rise has seen a pint of Young’s Ordinary increase from £4.15 to £4.25, while Young’s Special has gone up from £4.30 to £4.40. It cancels out the benefits of the chancellor’s freeze on beer duty in the last Budget, and the penny cut in levy in each of the previous three budgets. Young’s – which pays the living wage to 3,500 staff – told the Daily Mail it had taken the conscious decision to pass the costs on to its customers instead of slashing employee benefits. However, the company said it had tried to minimise the impact on drinkers by making savings elsewhere in the business. The pub industry has predicted it will be saddled with an extra £35m wage bill this year because of the National Living Wage, which was introduced on 1 April. Meanwhile, Belgian coffee shop chain Le Pain Quotidien has stopped paid breaks for staff, reports The Guardian. Staff had new terms and conditions imposed just over a month ago, offsetting a rise in their basic pay from about £6.80 an hour, just over the National Minimum Wage, to the new National Living Wage of £7.20 an hour for over-25s. The removal of paid breaks effectively wipes out the pay increase promised by the National Living Wage.

 

 

 

LGA – ‘food businesses in England should be forced to show hygiene scores’: The Local Government Association (LGA) is calling for the mandatory display of hygiene ratings at restaurants, pubs, cafes, takeaways, sandwich shops, supermarkets and delicatessens in England. The organisation, which represents 370 local authorities in England and Wales, said the move would “drive up standards and protect consumers from the risk of eating food prepared and cooked in unsanitary kitchens”. Council environmental health teams score outlets from zero to five based on factors such as kitchen cleanliness, cooking methods and food management, but businesses in England do not have to display the so-called “scores on the doors” ratings they have been given. Compulsory ratings already exist in Wales and will be introduced in Northern Ireland in October. The hygiene scores for more than 412,000 English premises can currently be found on the Food Standards Agency’s website but businesses across the country should by law be forced to display their stickers at their premises or face fines or prosecution if they fail to comply, said the LGA. The mandatory display of food hygiene ratings is supported by the Chartered Institute for Environmental Health and consumer organisation Which?

 

 

 

Ibiza venue becomes first nightclub to launch crowdfunding bid: Alter Ibiza, a nightclub on the Balearic island due to reopen in July, has launched a £100,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Seedrs in return for an 18.03% equity stake – the first time a club has launched such a campaign. Alter Ibiza will be the only nightclub at San Josep, a beach resort with more than 10,000 tourist bedrooms, the club owners claimed. The club will have an over-25s policy and be tailored towards the “original one-nighter generation” which, the club said, accounted for almost 1.3 million Ibiza tourists a year. The pitch stated: “(We will be) drawing on our local knowledge, experience, professional strengths, skillsets, extensive international music industry contacts and connections within the entertainment, tourism, hospitality and press sectors. Designed by Lluis Güell – the mastermind behind the Café del Mar and Es Paradís – the venue is the transformation of a basement into a spectacular space filled with split columns and marble staircases with angels and sculptures adorning the walls and ceilings. Alter Ibiza intends to serve up quality entertainment and beverages for the more mature, affluent clubber (25-plus) now representing the majority of Ibiza’s fast-moving tourism sector. (A place) where music-lovers can enjoy a relaxed, stylish, intimate setting with a soundtrack from teams of proven promoters and artists with huge, loyal followings and simply spectacular brand experience and histories.” Seedrs campaign success manager Ekaterina Steube said: “To our knowledge, this is the first time a nightclub has launched an equity crowdfunding campaign so it is a unique opportunity for our investor base and anyone in the UK who is passionate about the white isle.”

 

 

 

Millennials abandoning dinner parties in favour of brunch, new research shows: Millennials are abandoning dinner parties in favour of brunch, new research has revealed. Almost three-quarters of people aged between 18 and 35 eat a late, leisurely breakfast at least once a month, according to a survey of 2,000 adults by marketing company OnePoll, on behalf of consumer food firm Unilever. The restaurant industry is benefiting from the trend. The Breakfast Club, which opened its first site in London’s Soho in 2005 and took just £26 on its opening day, is about to open its ninth outlet, reports The Sunday Times. Gas Street Social in Birmingham, Brace & Browns in Bristol, and Jones & Sons in east London are among the restaurants that offer “bottomless brunch” that allows customers to eat as much as they wish in a set time and for a set price. Almost half of millennial brunchers share photographs of their meal, according to the research.

 

 

 

Crowdcube – alternative finance sector on the rise: The alternative finance sector is becoming increasingly accepted as an effective fund-raising option, according to the commercial director of crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. Today, Crowdcube accounts for more than 50% of the equity crowdfunding market in the UK and has helped raise funds for hospitality businesses such as Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog, burrito chain Chilango, restaurant group Filmore & Union, and celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage brand. Matt Cooper told Insider Media: “Since the banking retrenchment post-2008, the alternative finance sector’s really grown. There’s a general distrust of banks still. A millennial entrepreneur is more willing to speak to alternative finance providers than a bank for money. Our view is that banks aren’t going to get bigger and more powerful in the coming years. In fact, the opposite is true. And that provides opportunities for a site like Crowdcube.”

 

 

 

West Cornwall Pasty Co reports Ebitda passes £1m, like-for-likes growing 20%, six new sites opening: West Cornwall Pasty Co, which is backed by private equity company Enact, has reported Ebitda has hit £1m – two years after it went into administration. Executive chairman Chris Peck told Propel the turnaround was down to investing in all its key platforms – from the product to its website and stores. For the year ended 31 March 2016, West Cornwall Pasty Co said Ebitda had doubled from £525,000 in 2015 to more than £1m. When the company was bought from administration in April 2014, Ebitda was -£800,000. Turnover for the most recent year was £13m – up from £11.5m the previous 12 months. Like-for-like sales, which were in double-digit decline in 2014, are now growing 20% Peck said and he expected that growth to continue this year. The company is about to add to its 16 train station locations with stores in Norwich, Preston, Southampton and Surbiton as well as open its first venue at a designer outlet – the McArthurGlen site in Swindon. Peck added: “If Swindon goes well then we will probably roll-out across the McArthurGlen estate.” West Cornwall Pasty Co is also trialling branded hot food counters at four Esso petrol station sites “in a similar way to Costa Express”. The company has refurbished and renamed its high street shop in Canterbury as the West Cornwall Food Co, offering made-to-order sandwiches, confectionary, pasties and coffee. Peck said sales had since increased 60% on last year and as a result the company would now carry out similar refurbishments across its 16 other high street sites. It is also set to open a new shop in Wardour Street, London, in the next couple of months. West Cornwall Pasty Co has signed long-term agreements with Twickenham for its six units at the stadium as well as AEG for outlets at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow and the SSE Arena, Wembley. It has also secured a deal with mobile catering company SFC Catering to have its products at some of the country’s most prominent sporting and leisure events, such as the British Grand Prix at Silverstone and the Leeds and Reading music festivals. Its St Just coffee range is now organic while it is about to launch two gluten-free pasties – standard and cheese and onion. Peck said: “When we took over our plan was to take a fantastic brand that had lost its way and turn it around. We have done that by investing in all our key platforms, whether that be the product, the website or our stores. We have an unbelievable online presence. Our products offer great value for money and we now have a very profitable business.”

 

 

 

Kingdom Taverns reduces losses: Scottish pub company Kingdom Taverns has reported reduced losses. The company, which operates and leases more than 30 pubs, saw a pre-tax loss of £381,337 for the year ended 31 July 2015, compared with a loss of £442,134 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Turnover fell slightly to £5,625,154, compared with £5,721,541 the previous year. The company stated: “The directors aim to maintain the management policies adopted during the period to 31 July 2015 and consider the group is well placed to take advantage of opportunities which may arise in the current year.”

 

 

South Wales-based multi-siters open fifth site and third with Enterprise Inns, plan further expansion: South Wales-based multi-site operators Bruno Nunes and Mike Griffiths have opened their fifth site – and third with Enterprise Inns. The duo have taken on the Adelphi Hotel in Wind Street, Swansea, and are planning further expansion – including taking the business into England. They have reopened the pub in its current format while they progress plans for further developments and improvements when Enterprise will make a “significant investment”. Griffiths said: “We’ve spruced up the venue, and plan to operate it as The Adelphi until July. This will give us the time we need to figure out the best way to pay homage to the building, and ensure we restructure it to the standard it deserves”. Nunes added: “We’re in a significant process of restructuring our business, so this will be a significant step forward in achieving our expansion plans, which should hopefully see us grow further into Cardiff and subsequently take our Welsh business into England.” Nunes and Griffiths, who have a combined 38 years‘ experience in the hospitality industry, currently operate Bambu Beach Bar, which is opposite the Adelphi, in Wind Street; and Peppermint Bar & Kitchen, in Mill Lane, Cardiff, with Enterprise. They also run two non-Enterprise businesses in Swansea – Peppermint and Brewstone – under commercial leases.

 

 

BrewDog to open two new international bars this week, first foray into eastern Europe: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog will open two new international bars this week – including its first foray into eastern Europe. The company is launching a site in Malmö on Wednesday (4 May), which will be its fourth in Sweden, and then the following day in Warsaw ¬– its inaugural outlet in Poland. The company stated: “We can’t wait to add another amazing bar to our Swedish roster; and following hot on the heels of BrewDogs Kungsholmen, Göteborg and Södermalm we are now ready to open in the gateway city that links all others – Malmö. Our bar is at Baltzarsgatan 25, 211 36 Malmo, on the corner of Djäknegatan – ten minutes from Central Station! With 20 taps of craft beer and an outdoor drinking area, BrewDog Malmö is in place to dispense incredible offerings from ourselves and leading breweries from Scandinavia and beyond. It also has a full kitchen, majoring on incredible hot dogs from local suppliers. The day after, we have another bar opening in one of Europe’s most historic cities. We will be ready to take on Warsaw’s growing thirst with 18 taps of craft beer and a wide range of spirits, speciality coffee and food! It took us a while to find a perfect site, but we struck gold with a former restaurant plumb in the centre of this expansive city. Situated at ul. Widok 8, 00-023, BrewDog Warszawa is a short walk from the landmark Palace of Culture and Science. As the tenth country to receive a BrewDog bar, we are pulling out all of the stops for Poland!”

 

 

 

Whitbread secures first Zone 2 hub by Premier Inn, 13th London site: Whitbread has secured its 13th London hub by Premier Inn site in Lillie Road, Fulham – its first in a Zone 2 location. The leasehold deal with developer Banham Security Holdings represents a £10.5m investment and will pave the way, subject to planning, for an 83-bedroom hub by Premier Inn – bolstering Whitbread’s presence in west London and building on the new format’s success since it was launched in 2014. The deal follows two major London acquisitions by Whitbread – for a 290-bedroom hub by Premier Inn in Old Marylebone Road and a 128-bedroom Premier Inn as part of Berkeley Homes’ Royal Arsenal Riverside Development. Whitbread acquisition manager Jonathan Langdon said: “We are applying our winning hub by Premier Inn formula to another outstanding location, this time in Fulham. It will expand the reach of the new format while offering the same excellent connectivity, value and convenience that has driven consistently high customer demand across our hub by Premier Inn estate.” The hub by Premier Inn concept is a rapidly growing fixture of Whitbread’s hotel estate, with four sites open – three in London, one in Edinburgh – almost 3,000 bedrooms in the pipeline and a long list of target locations. Whitbread is targeting 85,000 bedrooms across its estate by 2020, up from 65,000 trading today.

 

 

 

London-based dating app with cocktail twist hits crowdfunding target: Rendeevoo, the London-based dating app with a cocktail twist, has hit its target on crowdfunding platform Seedrs as it aims to lay the foundations for aggressive expansion. The company, co-founded by George Christoforakis and Jorn Vanysacker, was seeking £50,000 in return for a 3.3% equity stake. So far, 64 investors have pledged £50,329 and is now “overfunding”. The largest investment to date is £31,000. Users browse the profiles, find someone they like, and then “place an order” by choosing where they want the date to take place and when. Then, they pay for one cocktail at one of the bars or cafes the app has partnered with. When the chosen date also pays for their drink, the transactions are processed and the date is a go. The pitch states: “As of February, we feel that Rendeevoo is a well-polished product with a validated user interface, and with more than 20 cafes, cocktail and wine bars on board. We take a 50% commission on each booking from our partnering venues, so the app is always free to use for the end-consumer. Our immediate plan is to further solidify our presence throughout London within 2016, and lay the foundations for an aggressive international expansion.”

 

 

 

Restaurateur to launch £1.5m Manchester city centre concept Menagerie: Karina Jadhav, co-founder of Spinningfields restaurant and bar Neighbourhood, will launch £1.5m Manchester city centre concept Menagerie in the late summer, creating 50 jobs. The 200-cover restaurant will be based in the 6,000 square foot ground floor of One New Bailey, an eight-storey development on the banks of the River Irwell. Menagerie will serve modern American cuisine, including brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, with an exclusive private dining area. Jadhav told the Manchester Evening News: “Myself and the team are excited to see the plans for Menagerie come to fruition following many months of hard work. The opening will provide a vital opportunity to introduce a new wave of experiential vibrant dining to Manchester, which really represents my personal evolution in the industry. A menagerie is a collection of the enticing and exotic, which is exactly what my concept will bring to Manchester. It’s all about every aspect of the guests’ experience.” Phil Mayall, development director at ECF, which is delivering the scheme at New Bailey, said: “We wanted to bring a dining experience like no other in Manchester, so partnering with Menagerie made perfect sense to us.”

 

 

Charles Wells agrees new partnership to ramp up US sales: Bedford-based brewer and retailer Charles Wells is looking to ramp up sales in North America after agreeing a new partnership. The company has chosen St Killian Importing Co as its new importer for the US. The move follows a similar change in Canada in 2015 when the Charles Wells brands were moved from Bruce Ashley Group to Kirkwood and Diamond. St Killian is purchasing the importation rights from Belukus Marketing, which has “driven rapid growth” of Charles Wells’ beers in the US since their partnership was forged in 2006. The brewer’s range will all be handed over to St Killian under the terms of the transfer agreement. International sales account for 17% of total sales of Charles Wells beers, with North America being its largest overseas market. Tim Sprake, international sales director, told Insider Media: “Our beers have seen significant growth in the American market over the last ten years and we’ve successfully launched new beers like Wells Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale and reintroduced the classic McEwan’s Scotch Ale in that time. We’d like to thank everyone at Belukus Marketing for their hard work over the past nine years but are very excited that our importation arrangements are moving to St Killian as we believe this new partnership will set up our portfolio for the next level of sales growth.”

 

 

Cottons opens flagship Notting Hill restaurant and rum shack, third London site: Cottons Caribbean Restaurant and Rhum Shack has opened a flagship venue in Notting Hill, its third London site. The new restaurant serves more than 300 rums and features steel drum music in the evening. Head chef Ross Sloane has joined from Kota in Cornwall, which was awarded two AA Rosettes and a Michelin Bib Gourmand. Alongside classic dishes, the breakfast menu features scrambled tofu with spinach, cherry tomatoes and spring onions, and Creole corn beef hash with onions, peppers and home-style potatoes, as well as “pick-me-up” smoothies. The a la carte menu includes sharing plates and dishes such as Trinidadian steamed red mullet in chadon beni garlic butter with provision salad, and Guyanese 48-hour slow-cooked beef pepper pot with fondant potatoes. Desserts feature Banana Napoleon (filo pastry, banana cream, coconut snow, tropical fruit sorbet and coriander), while the restaurant also operates a delivery service. The other Cottons Caribbean Restaurant and Rhum Shacks are in Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, and Chalk Farm Road, Camden.

 

 

Carluccio’s to open Southampton WestQuay shopping centre site, second Hampshire venue: Carluccio’s is set to open a restaurant at WestQuay shopping centre in Southampton, its first venue in the city and second in Hampshire. The 372 square metre venue, due to open in the summer, will be in a prime location on the lower shopping level, alongside Marks & Spencer and John Lewis’ espresso bar, Property Magazine reports. Sarah Fox, head of restaurants and leisure at WestQuay owners Hammerson, said: “By continuing to attract new tenants to the city, we demonstrate our ability to work with leading brands to deliver the very best customer experience possible.” Carluccio’s operates 96 venues across the UK with another to open soon at Intu Metrocentre in Gateshead, and 117 worldwide. Its other Hampshire site is at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth.

 

 

Brakspear opens fifth managed site: Henley-based pub operator and brewer Brakspear has opened The George Townhouse in Shipston-on-Stour – its fifth managed site. The company has relaunched the High Street pub it acquired last year following an extensive refurbishment. The grade II-listed building now features 15 en-suite rooms as well as The Bar and The Pantry restaurant. There is also The Carriage Room, a private dining area for up to 12 guests and the new Garden Room, which overlooks a decked patio area, reports the Coventry Telegraph. The interior has reclaimed oak floors, open fireplaces, and bright, contemporary colours and bold patterns teamed with quirky light fittings, artwork and bric-a-brac, reflecting the Georgian era. The pub has an extensive range of cask ales, wines, and a speciality gin menu alongside craft beers, lagers, guest beers and ciders. Brakspear’s other managed pubs are The Bull On Bell Street in Henley, The Porch House in Stow-on-the-Wold, The Running Horses in Mickleham and the Chequers in Marlow. The company has also acquired the Church Street Townhouse in Stratford-upon-Avon, which is its sixth site.

 

 
Burger King reports 4.4% like-for-like increase in US boosted by grilled hot dog sales: Burger King has reported like-for-likes increased 4.4% in the first quarter boosted by the sale of grilled hot dogs. Parent company Restaurant Brands said the extra sales, along with reduced costs, led to strong profits in the period ended 31 March, reports Nation’s Restaurant News. Operating income rose 48% to $330.6m from $224.1m, despite a decline in revenue to $918.5m from $933.3m. However, the company said like-for-likes at Burger King have slowed so far in the second quarter but was unsure why. Restaurant Brands chief executive Daniel Schwartz said: “We’re pleased with the launch of grilled dogs this quarter. It’s one of the larger products we’ve had in some time.” Executives said the hot dogs’ launch in the first quarter generated sales, both with additional traffic and because consumers added the product to existing orders. In addition, they said the company’s improved sales and profitability over the past few years, as well as its continued progress on remodelling, could soon propel more unit growth in the US – where the brand’s absolute size has been stagnant for years.

 

 

 

New ethical and eco-friendly concept The Savannah Bar & Restaurant to open in Euston next week: A new ethical and eco-friendly bar and restaurant concept will open in London next week. The Savannah Bar & Restaurant will launch on Thursday, 12 May at the Wesley Hotel in Euston Street, Euston. Its ethos is “reducing carbon footprint and food miles, and recycling”, with the food sourced ethically from sustainable suppliers, artisan producers and family-run companies. The Savannah is housed over two floors and has a separate entrance to the hotel. The bar will have space for up to 80 people and also cater for food-to-go while the a la carte restaurant has 54 covers. The decor tells a story inspired by nature and sustainability. Most of the furniture is made from recycled material and the bar uses reclaimed wood. The Savannah also cultivates emerging creativity and the work of upcoming animators, filmmakers and artists will be projected on the walls. The a la carte menu, featuring European food combined with the flavours of Africa and Asia, will include African spiced pork belly with scallop, carrot and miso puree; and spinach and ricotta ravioli with truffle cheese. The bar has its own menu of small plates and sharing dishes, a wine list including biodynamic and organic wines, artisanal beers, more than 20 whiskies and a large selection of unusual vodkas, rums and gins.

 

 

 

Humble Grape opens Fleet Street venue, second London site: Humble Grape, the wine bar and shop from James Dawson, has opened its second London site – in a 3,600 square foot space in St Bride’s Passage, just off Fleet Street. The site, formerly The Press House Wine Bar, is in the vaults of St Bride’s Church and is a 200-seat wine bar, shop, events space, private dining room and wine cellar. Humble Grape directly imports handcrafted wine from small, sustainable, independent vineyards worldwide, avoiding the industry-standard mark-ups from agents, importers or distributors. Dawson said: “I started Humble Grape in 2009 with a handful of wines I’d discovered on my travels. I ran wine tastings for my friends and family and delivered cases on the back of my motorbike. Now we import over 200 wines and have a loyal following. Many of my customers invested in our crowdfunding raise on Seedrs enabling me to launch the first Humble Grape wine bar and shop in Battersea, the mission being to make great quality wines accessible for all. The bar was so well received, we’ve now brought the concept to central London.”

 

 

New bar concept Peaky’s to open in Birmingham: Birmingham’s infamous gang culture has proved the inspiration for the city’s latest bar concept. Peaky’s is opening in John Bright Street between Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay and BrewDog. The venue will offer a selection of American craft beers, ales from local micro-breweries and a cocktail menu focused on seasonal ingredients. It will also serve a selection of sandwiches and bagels. The site will feature reused and upcycled furniture with the intention of creating an artistic and eclectic decor while the walls, ceiling and floor remain in their original, concrete state as a homage to Birmingham’s brutalism culture, which up until this year had been symbolised by the old library and Paradise Forum. The venue will also feature a backdrop suitable for live art exhibitions. General manager Benjamin Hill told The Business Desk: “Peaky’s will bring a brand new concept to Birmingham. We’re aiming to create something cool that will provide everyone with what they’re after. Whether it’s to come and check out some new art, somewhere to sit down, or somewhere to come for a drink in the evening, it’s a new and alternative meeting place.”

 

 

Burger blogger Burgerac opens second Burgershack site, in Fitzrovia: Gavin Lucas, better known as burger blogger Burgerac, has opened his second Burgershack in London – this time in Fitzrovia. Lucas launched the original Burgerac’s Burgershack at the Royal Oak in Marylebone – proving he could walk the walk, Hot Dinners reports. The second site is based at The Social in Little Portland Street, with burgers such as Hubba Hubba (two, three-ounce, smashed mustard-fried beef patties with American cheese, pickles, chipotle burger sauce and iceberg lettuce, and Chickenshack (buttermilk chicken breast shallow fried in lard, with American cheese, pickled onion, mayo and iceberg lettuce). The restaurant also has a vegetarian option – Shroom Meltdown (mushrooms, goat’s cheese, pickled red onion and salsa verde). Burgerac’s Burgershack is open from Monday to Friday.

 

 

Dusty Knuckle pop-up pizza concept launches permanent site in Cardiff with craft beer partnership: Pop-up pizza company Dusty Knuckle has opened its first permanent site in Cardiff, in partnership with a craft beer firm. Dusty Knuckle owners Phill Lewis and Deb Noyes have converted a space in Canton, which features a courtyard that seats diners and is also used to grow herbs to top its hand-made, wood-fired pizzas. The couple founded Dusty Knuckle 19 months ago and started touring markets and festivals in Wales. Dusty Knuckle has partnered with neighbouring Crafty Devil’s Cellar Shop and Bar and, as part of the collaboration, the companies have released The Devil’s Knuckle, a lemongrass and orange beer to match Dusty’s Goats Cheese pizza. Other pizzas include Black & Blue (San Marzano tomatoes with Cothi Valley blue goat’s cheese and black olive tapenade), and the signature Blas Y Mor (tomato, mozzarella, lardons, Penclawdd cockles, laverbread and samphire). Lewis told Wales Online: “We’ll be hand-picking produce for our pizzas, where possible, and continuing to use our favourite suppliers, 80% of which are located in Wales, so we’re trying to keep everything as local and sustainable as we can. We’ll still be doing some of the pop-up work, but having a permanent home will help us grow and mature what we’re able to offer.”

 

 

New Mexican restaurant concept opens in Cleethorpes: A new Mexican restaurant concept has opened in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire. Suti Thirukumaran has launched Chino Chino in Market Place, creating ten jobs. The 70-cover venue serves Tex-Mex style and traditional Mexican dishes and transforms into a wine bar on Fridays. Saturdays and Sundays after the restaurant closes at 10pm. Thirukumaran, who is originally from Sri Lanka and has experience working as a chef in a London-based Mexican restaurant, told the Grimsby Telegraph: “Cooking is a passion of mine and ever since I started, I wanted to open up my own restaurant. It’s every chef’s dream. I’m really excited. It has taken us three months to get everything in place. And it has taken me ten years to plan it.”

 

 

Warwickshire-based micro-brewery gets go-ahead for expansion: Warwickshire-based micro-brewery Church Farm Brewery has been given the go-ahead to expand. The company has had its plans to create a new 1,920 square foot brewhouse in an agricultural building at its base in the village of Budbrooke approved by Warwick District Council. The project will bring Church Farm Brewery’s output to 240 barrels per week from the current 60 barrels and has been backed by a £25,000 grant from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. Prior to becoming a brewery, Church Farm had a herd of 100 dairy cattle. It now has 30 cattle and grows malted barley to make its beer. Its casks include Ren’s Pride, Old Pal, Harry’s Heifer and Brown’s Porter and it also makes a range of craft products including Kiwi Wheat Beer and Chocolate Stout.

 

 

Wynn Ellis – The Restaurant Group’s profit expectations ‘now realistic’: Numis Securities leisure analyst Wynn Ellis has said The Restaurant Group has now set its profit expectations at a realistic target. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of 475p following the company’s trading update on Friday (29 April), Ellis said: “The Restaurant Group has warned its leisure business, in particular, continues to be impacted by ‘structural and business challenges’. It has issued FY16E profit before tax guidance, which is, we estimate, circa 12% below current consensus. A review of the operating strategy is planned with a progress update promised for August. Chief financial officer Stephen Critoph has stepped down from the board with immediate effect. The Restaurant Group says it does not anticipate any short-term underlying improvement in like-for-like trends and guides to full-year like-for-like sales down between 2.5% and 5.0% (previous guidance was flat like-for-likes), which would translate into full-year profit before tax ‘in a range of £74m to £80m’. At the mid-point this represents, we estimate, a cut of circa 12% versus consensus. We have cut our FY16E profit before tax forecast to £75.1m from £90m. In FY15 like-for-like sales rose by 1.5% (volume +1.1%, price +0.4%), but on 9 March The Restaurant Group reported like-for-likes down 1.5% in the first ten weeks of 2016 (total sales +6%). The company has reported like-for-likes for the first 17 weeks (to 25 April) down 2.7% (total sales +4.7%), suggesting a deterioration in the past six weeks with like-for-likes down circa 4.4%. Demand across the sector has slowed, according to recent Coffer Peach Tracker reports. The Frankie & Benny’s (Frankie’s) brand is the most challenged. The brand is 38% exposed to retail-only sites, which are seeing declining footfall and increased competition (attracted, in our view, by The Restaurant Group’s high returns – site return on investment was up 60bps to 44.5% in FY15 with company return on investment up 20bps to 29.9%). In addition, the cinema market has been less buoyant. Pub restaurants and concessions continue to be in growth. The current priority for management is to reduce exposure to retail-only outlets and the Frankie’s brand. Over 50% of the portfolio is Frankie’s and the aim is to reduce this, over time, to circa 40% to better balance the portfolio – with greater focus on other brands, pubs and concessions. At Frankie’s the management is being refreshed, menus updated, digital marketing increased and covers in busier cinema sites increased by trimming bar space. The financial position is robust: we forecast year-end net debt of £35m. The poor share price performance since the preliminaries suggests the market has been anticipating a profit warning. Expectations have, in our view, now been set at a realistic level and, whilst there are challenges ahead, on an FY16E EV/Ebitda of 6.6x and price-earnings ratio of 12.9x the shares are attractive. We have cut our target price to 475p.”

 

 
Cornish hotel changes hands for £1m: A Cornish hotel that dates to the 1920s has changed hands in a £1m deal, supported by funding from NatWest. Tremarne Hotel in Mevagissey has been bought by Francine Townsley and Serge Koelman van Doornik, who have moved from Amsterdam to take over the business. The 13-bedroom hotel, which will now be open year round, was purchased with a £600,000 loan from NatWest. Townsley told Insider Media: “We want to maintain the hotel’s reputation as a welcoming, contemporary hotel with a family-feel and, of course, magnificent sea views. It’s already a lovely place, which certainly makes things much easier.” Elizabeth Stansfield, relationship manager at NatWest, added: “As this is already one of the area’s most popular hotels it’s a fantastic business opportunity for Francine and Serge.”

 

 

C&C Group puts emphasis on the apple as it launches new Magners packaging and media campaign: C&C Group has revealed new packaging for the Magners brand and launched a multimillion-pound media campaign focusing on the apple segment as the public “tires” of the flavoured cider trend. The media campaign will feature television and radio advertising, supported by “heavyweight experiential activity, PR and social media”. C&C Group said the campaign had been developed on the back of extensive consumer research. Magners brand director Andy Cross said: “Consumers appear to be tiring of flavoured ciders in the same way they did with alcopops. Apple still accounts for 76% of the cider category but research has shown young adults find the category boring. We want to make apple cider exciting again.” To support the renewed focus on the apple segment, Magners will focus primarily on its Original apple variant, replacing Magners Golden Draught across the on-trade with Magners Original. The company said the new packaging had been designed to ensure “maximum shelf stand-out”, with its bottles featuring a rip top lid, eradicating the need for a bottle opener to support “impulse purchases across the growing convenience channel”.