JD Wetherspoon expects to add dozen pubs a year as it has ‘colonised most of the country’: JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has told Propel the company expects to add about a dozen pubs a year to its portfolio as the company had now “colonised most of the country so there was less to choose from”. The rate of openings has slowed in recent years – the company has launched six pubs this financial year. Martin said the Fifa World Cup had added about 1% to like-for-like sales growth, with the recent hot weather also helping to drive revenues. Drinks including pink gin and Pimms had seen notable sales increases while Martin said the CO2 shortage had no impact on trade with its pubs still having “plenty of beer stocks”. Meanwhile, Martin said the company would continue to increase the number of UK products in its pubs as it seeks non-EU alternatives – and he urged other foodservice businesses to follow suit. Wetherspoon has already exchanged French Champagne for sparkling wine from the UK and Australia, and German wheat beer for UK and US alternatives. Of the company’s third-quarter results, Martin said: “We continue to do well, helped by the favourable weather. It has been a fantastic effort from our pub teams.” Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack said of the performance: “Wetherspoon’s asset quality is improving as a result of investment, tail-end disposals and freehold reversions (freeholds should now account for circa 60% of the estate). We are increasing our full-year forecasts slightly (profit before tax £106.9m to £108.1m; consensus £105.3m) and believe this upgrade is cautious – there should be more to come. We are raising our target price to 1,300p from 1,200p and our recommendation from ‘Hold’ to ‘Add’, anticipating further upgrades, after which the 2019E EV/Ebitda rating could be closer to 8.5 times than the current 8.9 times.”
Hawthorn Leisure sees sales rise 90% during England World Cup games as ‘perfect storm’ gives community pubs ‘long-term boost’: Hawthorn Leisure, which was acquired by NewRiver in May, has seen sales increase 17% during the Fifa World Cup, while sales during England games have increased 85% to 90%. Hawthorn Leisure managing director of operations Mark McGinty revealed the figures while talking to the BBC about the positive impact the World Cup is having on pubs across the country. Appearing on the BBC Breakfast show and Radio 5 Live’s Wake Up To Money, McGinty said: “It has been the perfect storm – the weather has been great, England have been playing well and the times of the games have been just right. This has provided a fantastic opportunity for all our pubs to increase their sales. England have exceeded all expectations this year, with friends, family and neighbours choosing their local pub to watch games for the atmosphere.” McGinty added the overall experience would leave a “positive taste” in consumers’ mouths post-tournament, enticing them back to their locals. He said: “We see the World Cup as a long-term benefit for pubs, especially community pubs. They have been struggling over the past few years and this is an opportunity for those pubs to showcase their offering and get those people back in. These pubs are so important for the community. We hope people will return once the pub has created a memorable experience for them.” NewRiver acquired Hawthorn Leisure from an affiliate of Avenue Capital Group for an enterprise value of £106.8m. This represented a net initial yield based on the value of the pub portfolio of 13.6%.
Bettys & Taylors Group reports pre-tax profit jump as turnover nears £190m: Family-owned Bettys & Taylors Group has reported turnover increased 9% to £189,653,000 for the year ending 31 October 2017, compared with £173,619,000 the year before. Pre-tax profit jumped to £16,038,000 compared with £9,334,000 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “In an increasingly competitive market we have seen good sales performance. There has been investment in plant, machinery and IT systems of £3.9m in the year (2016: £3.2m). The return on capital employed for the year was 11% (2016: 6.6%). At the end of the year, the group had cash balances of £37.9m, growth of £4.2m from the end of October 2016, and total shareholders’ funds of £118.8m.” Based in Harrogate, Bettys & Taylors comprises the six Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms, tea and coffee merchants Taylors of Harrogate, Bettys Craft Bakery, Bettys Cookery School and bettys.co.uk.
New World Trading Company gets go-ahead to bring Botanist to Bath: Graphite Capital-backed pub restaurant group The New World Trading Company has been given the go-ahead to bring its Botanist brand to Bath. The company has been granted permission by Bath and North East Somerset Council to transform empty grade II-listed Octagon Hall in Milson Place, creating 50 jobs. Octagon Hall was built in the 18th century and was last used by Burger & Lobster with bar restaurant The Confessional in the basement. However, the site has been empty since January 2017. Originally a chapel, the building has also been used as Royal Photographic Society headquarters, a drama studio, and a cafe and cinema for Bath Spa University, reports Somerset Live. New World Trading Company, which also operates The Florist, The Oast House, The Trading House and The Canal House, was acquired by Graphite Capital for £50m in June 2016. It currently operates 15 sites for The Botanist.
Essex-based artisan cider producer increases equity offer in £300,000 crowdfunding campaign: Essex-based artisan cider producer Big Bear Cider Mill has increased the equity offer in its £300,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube as it looks to scale up production. The company is now offering 15% equity instead of the original 10% in return for the investment. So far, 128 investors have pledged £146,900 with 14 days of the campaign remaining. The company is looking for funds to create an “apple to can” production facility able to produce more than one million litres of craft cider a year. The company stated on Crowdcube: “Small breweries and cider companies have recently been traded and sold for extremely high values that stand outside any traditional model for how you may value a business. The balance of a fair risk/return expectation for investors against those of existing shareholders and founders is always challenging to get right. With ongoing conversations, as well as feedback from those that have already invested in this round, we have decided to increase the amount of equity on offer. The valuation is currently £2.7m and we have decided to lower this to £1.7m as our aim is to grow and develop and take the business to the next level. This means all our current and future investors will receive 50% more equity for their investment.” The pitch states: “We plan to make quality craft cider marketed with a strong brand appeal and year-round supply. Essex orchards were ripped up in the 1960s and 1970s to make way for gravel pits. We buy disused gravel pits and turn them into flourishing orchards – making great cider and having a positive environmental impact.”
City District Group to open restaurant with Pep Guardiola and Michelin-starred chef next week: City District Group, which operates Brazilian rodizio restaurant brand Fazenda, will open its new restaurant in partnership with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and Michelin-starred chef Paco Perez next week. Guardiola and Manchester City director of football Txiki Begiristain and chief executive Ferran Soriano have invested in Tast Cuina Catalana, which will open in King Street, Manchester, on Friday, 20 July. The 120-cover venue has taken over a site formerly occupied by Aria Leisure’s Middle Eastern concept Suri, which closed in August. Tast will be set over three floors, with a casual dining and bar area on the ground floor, a first-floor dining room and private rooms on the second floor, reports the Manchester Evening News. Perez has five Michelin stars to his name, including two each at Miramar in Girona and Enoteca in Barcelona – a city where he has six restaurants in total. City District Group operates four Fazenda sites along with sister brand Picanha in Chester.
Pho partners with Feed It Back to drive loyalty: Vietnamese street food restaurant group Pho has partnered with guest feedback, recovery and social reviews service Feed It Back as it targets further growth. The agreement will see Pho, which will open its 27th restaurant in Exeter this August, use Feed It Back’s platform and online and social review tracker to gain customer insight about the brand as it strives to drive loyalty in an increasingly competitive market. Pho managing director Mark Smith said: “Our strategy for encouraging and increasing customer loyalty is simple – continue to deliver amazing, fresh food and excellent customer service. We believe the customer insights and data gained from our partnership with Feed It Back will be paramount in helping us continue to do this as we grow. We are primarily a walk-in restaurant business, meaning we don’t have as much regular communication with guests as you do with pre-booking data, so a major differentiator between Feed It Back and the competition is its integrated communication platform.” The deal comes on the back of a successful year for Feed It Back. Chief executive Carlo Platia said: “We are delighted to be working with a brand like Pho, which has such a great reputation with consumers and the industry. In a world of big data, it’s crucial information is packaged up in a simple way so trends can be easily interpreted and capitalised on.”
Egg bun concept Yolk Breaker to launch first permanent site, in Camden this week: Egg bun concept Yolk Breaker is to launch its debut bricks and mortar site, in Camden. The street food concept has previously set up stall at Primrose Hill and Hampstead food markets and will now open a unit at Stables Market on Sunday (15 July). Its signature dish is the Yolk Breaker sandwich (scrambled eggs with caramelised onions, mayonnaise and cheese). The menu also includes an egg and bacon bun (an over-easy fried egg with applewood smoked bacon, harissa mayo and cheese). There will also be an egg and mushroom bun for vegetarians.
Restaurants line up for phase two of new Coventry leisure quarter: Private equity-backed restaurant group Bistrot Pierre and Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi will open restaurants in September as part of phase two of the Cathedral Lanes development in Coventry city centre. Bistrot Pierre has taken a new 20-year lease on a first floor, 5,323 square foot unit with a terrace overlooking the square. Zizzi will occupy a 3,498 square foot unit on the ground floor. Meanwhile, Graphite Capital-backed pub restaurant group The New World Trading Company will take possession of an 8,000 square foot, first-floor unit with a glazed roof in early August for its The Botanist brand, which it expects to open in November. Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay has also signed up for Cathedral Lanes and will take possession of its unit in early 2019. There are two further units available in phase two – a 3,358 square foot site that will be available next month and another of 7,000 square feet that will be ready for fit-out later this year. The first phase of Shearer Property Group’s new leisure quarter was completed in 2015, with openings by Casual Dining Group brand Las Iguanas, Wagamama and Loungers’ Cosy Club. Carlene Hughes, of Savills, who is advising Shearer Property Group, said: “We are very pleased with the pre-lets we have secured for phase two. Footfall at Broadgate Square has increased 17% since the first phase of restaurants opened and the development continues to go from strength to strength.” Bistrot Pierre operates 23 sites, with another to launch in Preston next month, while Zizzi has 145 sites in the UK.
Kitty Fisher’s team opens second restaurant: The team behind Kitty Fisher’s in Mayfair has launched its second restaurant, Cora Pearl, in Covent Garden. Owners Tom Mullion, Oliver Milburn and Tim Steel have opened the venue in Henrietta Street. Following the narrative of its sister restaurant, Cora Pearl is named after a celebrated British-born courtesan. Originally from Covent Garden, Pearl became the party queen of Paris. The restaurant seats 60 covers over two floors of a historic townhouse. The interiors feature parquet flooring, dark textiles, ferns, upholstered wall-panels, tarnished mirrors and vintage lights. The ground floor houses the main dining room, while the lower ground floor features an open kitchen and cocktail bar. Executive chef George Barson’s menu features British and French influences including fish stew, confit pork belly with smoked quince, and brill and devilled crab alongside daily specials. Drinks include cocktails, Martini and an old-world wine list.
National Pub Fortnight campaign to give away 50,000 free drinks: A total of 50,000 free drinks are to be given away during this year’s National Pub Fortnight, the annual celebration of the Great British pub. The event, run by Ei Publican Partnerships – the leased and tenanted division of Ei Group – and this year in conjunction with Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars, will give away more than three times last year’s total of 15,000 drinks. Returning for a second year, the 50,000 free drinks will be available at more than 2,000 pubs across the UK from 20 July to 5 August. As part of this year’s campaign, Ei Publican Partnerships will once again offer support from third-party suppliers and encourage publicans to run their own events. New research has reinforced the importance of the pub for local communities, with seven out of ten people listing it as one of the most important local amenities, second only to the local shop and doctor’s surgery. Ei Publican Partnerships managing director Nick Light said: “Momentum is key for campaigns and our commitment to more than triple the amount of free drinks available clearly demonstrates our desire to grow our support for publicans across the country. The Great British pub is an institution and we’re determined to work collaboratively with the industry to celebrate the community pillar that has created so many special memories across the nation.” Stephen Rooney, Star Pubs & Bars head of business support, added: “It is pleasing to see so many pubs signed up for what is going to be a terrific two-week celebration of the British pub.”
Kymel Trading secures lease to operate Whitley Bay seafront site featuring restaurants and champagne bar: North east-based Kymel Trading has secured a ten-year lease to operate redeveloped Whitley Bay seafront site the Spanish City Dome, which will reopen in the summer featuring restaurants and a champagne bar. The grade II-listed venue will relaunch as a leisure hub featuring a second site in the town for Kymel fish and chip brand Trenchers. The venue will also feature 1910 Steak and Seafood – a fine dining restaurant that will take inspiration from Kymel’s award-winning Crab & Lobster restaurant at Crab Manor Hotel in Asenby. Other offerings at Spanish City Dome will include cafe concept Valerie’s Tearoom, Spanish City Waffle & Pancake House, a champagne bar and St Mary’s Lighthouse Suite – a 200-capacity function space available to hire with a dedicated kitchen and bar. The suite will be linked to the mezzanine level of the dome and the champagne bar, with views across Whitley Bay. Kymel Trading was founded by Paul and Kyle Mackings in 2013. Kyle Mackings told BDaily: “This is an amazing project for Kymel to be involved in. We specialise in businesses that offer nothing but the finest quality in unique surroundings and Spanish City, which has been lovingly restored and retains many of its original features, fits our business perfectly.”
Shropshire-based vineyard will expand to offer new wine experiences, dining and accommodation: Shropshire-based Hencote Vineyard Estate is expanding its operation over the next few months to offer new wine experiences, dining and accommodation. The family-run business, near Shrewsbury, is opening a winery, restaurant and shop at the site in September. Meanwhile, luxury vineyard lodges are also being created. The restaurant will feature open-fire cooking and a large terrace overlooking the 17-acre vineyard. A wine bar will be used for wine-tasting experiences and as an events space for private hire. Owner Andy Stevens told the Shropshire Star: “We want to bring everything together in the right formula.”
MJMK launches Portuguese concept Casa do Frango in London Bridge: London-based hospitality firm MJMK has launched Portuguese concept Casa do Frango in London Bridge. The 85-cover restaurant has opened in Southwark Street specialising in “frango”, Algarvian-style piri-piri chicken cooked over wood charcoal. The grill is overseen by pitmaster Lucidio da Fonseca Monteiro, who has moved to London for the project. The concept is the brainchild of MJMK founders Marco Mendes, Jake Kasumov and Reza Merchant, inspired by their time in southern Portugal. As well as frango, the menu includes regional charcuterie, cheese, seafood, salads and desserts. Starters to share include grilled chorizo, while mains consist of frango, octopus rice and grilled vegetables in piri-piri sauce. The drinks list features Portuguese varieties, while a vaulted ceiling with a glass skylight allows natural light on communal tables and counter dining. A “hidden” bar will open later this year. MJMK, which also owns and operates S11 bar and health food cafe Homegrown, both in Brixton, will open neighbourhood pub The Belrose in Belsize Park later this month.
 
High-end drinks specialist to launch gin and whisky bar in Grantham town centre: The Trickling Tap, which sells high-end spirits, wine, beer and alcohol-related giftware, is to launch a gin and whisky bar in Grantham, Lincolnshire. South Kesteven District Council has approved the town centre scheme after Trickling Tap co-founder Karen Adams submitted plans for the Market Place venue in May. The bar will have seating for up to 50 people, Insider Media reports. A council document stated: “The proposal is in a sustainable town centre location and would not have an adverse impact on highway safety.” Husband-and-wife team Paul and Karen Adams launched The Trickling Tap with their son Luke in April 2013.
Stonegate Pub Company named corporate charity fund-raiser of the year:Stonegate Pub Company has been named corporate charity fund-raiser of the year by PubAid and the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group (APPBG). The award was presented to Stonegate chief executive Simon Longbottom at the annual APPBG Dinner in Westminster. Stonegate raises about £1.5m for charity every year, supporting a wide range of national and local causes. Longbottom said: “It is an honour to receive this award in recognition of the tremendous amount of community fund-raising and the phenomenal amount of money raised each year for charities large and small by our pubs and support team.” PubAid highlighted Stonegate northern division’s mission to raise £60,000 for Mind and the Scottish Association for Mental Health, with £54,000 already raised and on track to hit the target by September. PubAid co-founder Des O’Flanagan said: “Fund-raising is seen not as a ‘nice to do’ add-on but a fundamental part of running a Stonegate pub. Managers and their teams demonstrate huge creativity and dedication in their fund-raising. Head office is also active within its community in Luton.” APPBG chairman Mike Wood added: “Stonegate has shown what can be achieved when charity support is embedded within a company’s culture, with all employees empowered and enthused to do their bit.” The award is in its fourth year and was previously won by JD Wetherspoon, Greene King and north west brewer and retailer Joseph Holt.