Heavitree Brewery reports turnover boost: Heavitree Brewery, the Exeter-based tenanted pub operator, has reported turnover increased by £144,000 to £7,299,000 for the year ending 31 October 2017. Group operating profit was up by £358,000 to £1,778,000. Adjusted operating profit before tax rose 25.21% to £1,778,000. During the year The Pen And Quill in Taunton was sold, generating a small loss of £5,000. Impairments on this site had been absorbed in the accounts of previous years. Since the accounts were finalised, The King Of Prussia in Bovey Tracey has been sold. It closed in 2009 with a small rental income retained from the letting of a flat – the pub will be converted into a community facility. The Crown & Sceptre in Newton St Cyres, which closed in June 2017, and The Kings Arms in Strete, which shut in September 2016, are on the market with sales agreed, subject to contract. Further improvements to camping facilities and caravan pitches have been made to the Dartmoor Halfway Inn in Bickington. The company said it had no further major developments planned for 2018, while the new year had started “satisfactorily”.

Vivino wine app raises $20m in Series C funding for international expansion: Wine app Vivino has raised $20m in Series C funding to aid international expansion and technology innovation. The company said it had increased its user base from 13 million to 29 million since its previous round of funding in January 2016. The latest funding round was led by SCP Neptune International, the investment arm of Christophe Navarre, who is also on Vivino’s board of directors. It brings Vivino’s total funding to $57m since it was founded in 2010. Balderton Capital, Creandum, SEED Capital Denmark and Iconical, all major investors in Vivino, are also contributing to the round. Vivino said its sales in December 2017 were four times that of the previous December, with six new markets added. The latest round of investment will enable Vivino to further develop technology, invest in its team and expand to markets such as Hong Kong with a target of selling $1bn of wine by 2020. Founder and chief executive Heini Zachariassen said: “Vivino’s 29 million users are exploring two million wines each day on the platform. In the US alone, more than 130,000 wines are available for purchase through Vivino. As we continue to expand our e-commerce offering, we will maintain our leadership position by advancing technology that meets the needs of consumers and the trade.” Vivino was advised in the transaction by London-based merchant bank Dial Partners.

Stuart Inns reopens Cambridgeshire pub for fourth site with Greene King Pub Partners: Family-run operator Stuart Inns has reopened The Old Crown in Girton, Cambridgeshire, following a six-figure joint investment with Greene King Pub Partners. It is the fourth partnership between the companies – Stuart Inns, which is run by the Macmillan family, also operates The Hadleigh Ram, The Lavenham Greyhound and The Long Melford Swan, all in Suffolk. The refurbished Old Crown features a refitted kitchen, a new bar and an extended dining space offering a new menu. Greene King Pub Partners managing director John Forrest said: “We’re proud to have an excellent working relationship with Stuart Inns and delighted this continues to grow and flourish. This is a significant investment by ourselves and Stuart Inns and highlights our commitment to putting the best operators in pubs across the country.”

McDonald’s makes becoming ‘credible chicken player’ top US priority: McDonald’s has said becoming a “credible chicken player” is one of its top priorities in the US. Decades after adding chicken sandwiches to its menu, the company is making the push under its “Better Chicken” project, according to internal documents seen by Bloomberg. In a letter to franchisees, who operate about 90% of US locations, the company said it is aiming to extend a three-year growth run by being “more like Chick-fil-A”. McDonald’s has already taken steps to elevate its poultry offering, vowing to stop serving chicken that contains antibiotics and removing artificial preservatives from chicken nuggets. The company also rolled out Southern-style sandwiches and tenders, which are coated in a crispy buttermilk breading similar to Chick-fil-A. The idea is to build on that push and establish McDonald’s as a top-tier chicken restaurant rather than just a burger joint. “It’s definitely a transformational era for McDonald’s,” said Jason Moser, an analyst at Motley Fool. “Chicken is part of that.” According to estimates from the Department of Agriculture, consumers are eating more chicken than before. Last year, they consumed 92 pounds on average, compared with less than 57 pounds of beef.

Incipio Group launches Hammersmith food hall: Incipio Group, the company behind street food pop-up Pergola, renowned for its rooftop venture at the former BBC Television Centre in White City, has launched Feast Canteen, a 350-cover food hall in Hammersmith. The venture has opened in the Kings Mall leisure complex offering a rotating restaurant line-up for eat in, takeaway and delivery options via Deliveroo, Hot Dinners reports. The first restaurants are better burger brand Patty & Bun, Vietnamese concept Salvation in Noodles, sourdough pizzeria Born & Raised, taco joint Breddos and rice paper rolls concept Sinchow. In December, Incipio Group returned to White City to launch Feast Bar & Kitchen, a 300-capacity restaurant hub with alfresco seating and a rotating line-up of street food vendors. The company is also behind street food festival Little Feast in Shepherd’s Bush and an 800-capacity venture at The Prince pub in West Brompton Crossing that features two bars, four restaurants and an “enclosed woodland pergola garden”.

Plans lodged to convert former Milton Keynes PizzaExpress to private members’ club: Plans have been lodged to convert a former PizzaExpress restaurant in Milton Keynes to a corporate private members’ club. Documents submitted to Milton Keynes Council revealed plans for a bar and fine dining facilities. In Tandem Resources, which is based at Elder Gate, has earmarked the former PizzaExpress in Midsummer Walk for the project, reports Insider Media. The venue would be “extensively refurbished” under the plans, which would create Milton Keynes’ first members’ club where “business people can bring clients to enjoy refined surroundings and fine dining”. The venue would be known as Alpha Club and offer different levels of corporate membership. The building offers more than 5,500 square feet of floor space over lower-basement, basement and ground-floor levels. It shares a courtyard with a Holiday Inn.

JD Wetherspoon gets go-ahead for Liverpool city centre pub: JD Wetherspoon has had plans to open a pub in Liverpool city centre approved only four months after its initial bid was rejected. In May last year, Wetherspoon announced plans to open a venue in former offices at Victoria House in James Street, opposite Merseyrail station. The company wanted to invest £1.9m in the scheme, creating 70 jobs. However, planners rejected the move in October fearing the proposed beer garden would disturb flats above. Revised plans for the beer garden now include a covered area and landscaping to a fence next to the flats. Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon told the Liverpool Echo: “We are keen to open a pub on the site and believe it will be an asset to the area and prove popular with a wide range of people, as our other pubs in and around Liverpool have been for many years.” The company’s other pubs in the city centre include The North Western in Lime Street and The Lime Kiln in Fleet Street.

Six by Nico to open second site, in Edinburgh: Glasgow-based Scots-Italian chef Nico Simeone is to open his second Six by Nico site, in Edinburgh. Simeone launched the concept, which changes the theme of its six-course tasting menu every six weeks, in the Finnieston district of Glasgow last March. Now he is taking the restaurant to Edinburgh’s New Town, where Six by Nico will replace the Passorn Thai Brasserie in Hanover Street. Simeone said the new venue, which is due to open in April, would be a similar “revolving culinary hub” based on “different places, memories and ideas”. He told Herald Scotland: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the success and appeal of our first Six by Nico in Glasgow and couldn’t be more delighted about bringing a new offering and dining experience to the people of Edinburgh. We feel we’ve created the perfect recipe for an exciting epicurean adventure, not just for our diners but our team too.” Six by Nico themes have included a modern take on the traditional “chippy”, childhood favourites, illusion, a forest, New York, and Disney films. Simeone also owns 111 by Nico in Glasgow.

The York Roast Co to introduce seating at Stonegate site as part of £150,000 revamp: Street food business The York Roast Co is to introduce seating at its venue in Stonegate, York, as part of a £150,000 revamp. The family-run business, which specialises in wrapped-up roasts and sandwiches including the YorkyPud Wrap, will reopen the outlet next month as a diner and takeaway. It will now feature seating for 30-plus customers on the first floor. In keeping with the building’s 16th century roots, the revamped venue will feature solid timber tables and chairs complemented by “natural, earthy tones” alongside a geometric-patterned feature wall. The York Roast Co’s other sites are in Low Petergate in York as well as Chester, Shrewsbury and Salisbury.

New coffee house concept 39 Steps launches in Soho: New concept 39 Steps Coffee Haus has launched in Soho. The 25-cover venue in D’Arblay Street roasts and grinds coffee on-site, with experts able to tell consumers the name of the farmer who grew the beans, which way the slope faced and how long the beans ripened for. Head roaster Jens Rettig buys beans from independent growers in India, Brazil, Mexico and El Salvador. The venue offers hand brews, cold brews, nitro brews, coffee smoothies and coffee milkshakes alongside cold-pressed juices. The all-day menu features homemade soup, salads, sandwiches and freshly made cakes and desserts.

Christian Guild Hotels puts two sites on market for £1.5m each: Christian Guild Hotels, represented jointly by Savills and Musson Liggins, is bringing Abbot Hall Hotel and Lindors Hotel to the market at a guide price of £1.5m each. Built in 1840, Abbot Hall Hotel in Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria, provides 36 bedrooms in the main house, a 14-bedroom bungalow, five lodges providing 11 bedrooms and separate owner’s accommodation. The hotel also provides a range of business and leisure facilities including a restaurant, coffee shop and two conference rooms. Meanwhile, Lindors Country House Hotel in Lydney, Gloucestershire, offers 23 en-suite bedrooms, five separate lodges, three conference rooms and the 64-cover Stowes restaurant. Set in circa 24.4 acres of grounds, the main section of the hotel was built in the 1830s with the wing dating to 1660. Tom Cunningham, director in the hotels team at Savills, said: “Both are located in popular tourist destinations and benefit from a strong business and tourist trade, making them attractive to a range of buyers.”

Liverpool-based operators open second site: Liverpool-based operators Owain Williams and Chris Edwards have opened their second site in the city. Williams and Edwards have launched “neo-bistro” and bar Belzan in Smithdown Road following a fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. Belzan serves simple and seasonal food, natural wine and “killer” cocktails. Williams told the Liverpool Echo: “We use local ingredients when it makes sense, prepare all the cool stuff in-house ourselves, and buy from friends when possible. Whether we’re creating new dishes, mixing drinks or choosing guest coffee, people and produce are at the heart of everything we do.” Williams and Edwards also operate the Filter And Fox in Duke Street.

M&B named best place to work at HR Distinction Awards: Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) has been named “overall best place to work” at the HR Distinction Awards. The company’s apprenticeship programme also won the early career employment category during a ceremony at Birmingham’s Hilton Metropole. The awards celebrate HR strategies that contribute to outstanding business results. M&B’s HR director Susan Martindale said: “I am extremely proud of our team and the commitment from across Mitchells & Butlers in creating a great place for our people to work. The company’s Delivering Our People Strategy requires a huge contribution and input from the wider team so to see this recognised externally is both rewarding and a real testament that we are doing the right things for our people.” M&B was also shortlisted for awards in the employee engagement and experience, and leading transformational change categories.

Plans submitted for luxury lodges at five-star County Durham spa hotel: Plans have been submitted to build luxury lodges in the grounds of a five-star spa hotel in County Durham. The grade II-listed Seaham Hall has been in use as a hotel and spa since 2002. The venue has lodged plans with Durham County Council to transform a site to the north east of the hall that is occupied by grassland, a staff car park and two access roads, one of which is redundant. The plans propose changing use of the site for holiday accommodation including 20 bases for holiday lodges and four permanent lodges. The car park would be relocated to a plot of agricultural land to the north west of the hall, reports Insider Media. A heritage statement submitted with the application read: “There is a growing trend, nationally and locally, for the development of holiday lodge parks that offer luxury lodges for ownership and rent. Brexit and the devaluation of sterling have also created opportunities for the UK tourist industry, increasing the UK’s appeal to foreign visitors and supporting continued growth in the popularity of the ‘staycation’ among UK residents.”

Boxpark appoints W Communications as retained agency: Boxpark has appointed W Communications as its retained agency as the company embarks on its next phase of expansion. Following a competitive pitch, the agency has been brought on board to launch Boxpark Wembley and manage all communications for Boxpark’s sites in Shoreditch and Croydon. The Wembley street food and shopping destination is due to launch in late 2018 in partnership with developers Quintain. As with its sister sites, Boxpark Wembley will feature a selection of the best traders from London and around the world. The biggest Boxpark to date, the 50,000 square foot complex will also host a programme of original events. Boxpark chief executive Roger Wade said: “We are looking forward to developing the Boxpark brand further with the help of W.” Warren Johnson, W founder and chief executive, added: “Boxpark is a truly iconic brand with landmark status in Shoreditch and Croydon. We look forward to helping establish Boxpark Wembley as another great success.”

Carlisle-based operator opens second site: Carlisle-based operator Matthew Wills-Jenkins has opened his second site in the city. Wills-Jenkins, who owns The Currock pub in Boundary Road, has launched Mixers in Botchergate on the site of the former Queens bar. Wills-Jenkins told the News & Star: “Mixers is my first bar. I’ve thought about it for a while and I never thought it would actually happen. I got the name because we are playing a mix of music and there’s a mix of drinks too. I think Botchergate is a good place to be. Having the takeaways close by helps.”

Former VisitEngland executive acquires Lake District hotel: Former VisitEngland executive Philip Nettleton has acquired a hotel in the Lake District for £830,000. Nettleton and wife Charlotte have bought Rickerby Grange, near Keswick, from Des and Carol Taylorson in a deal brokered by agent Colliers International. Rickerby Grange was built in the 1920s as part of Rickerby Farm and offers ten en-suite letting bedrooms, a separate three-bedroom owners’ flat, gardens and parking. Haydn Spedding, of Colliers’ Manchester office, told BDaily: “Philip’s knowledge of the Lake District’s many attractions through his work at VisitEngland played a key role in their decision to relocate by acquiring Rickerby Grange. The Lake District continues to be Colliers’ most productive region for hospitality sector deals in the UK, with this being the latest of more than 30 sales in the past two years.”

Carling unveils five community projects supported by its Made Local initiative: Carling has revealed the five community projects it has supported through its Made Local initiative, which champions UK communities. The initiative was launched in May to support local community projects nominated by Carling customers as part of a wider campaign – Putting The Great Back Into Great British Pubs And Clubs – launched by Molson Coors two months previously. Made Local led to the development of a new print studio in Rotherham, an outdoor gym in Tonypandy, South Wales, a community hub in Goathland village, North Yorkshire that includes a link road, library, bar and cricket pavilion, and community projects in Padiham, near Burnley, and Pengam in South Wales. Carling brand director Miranda Osborne said: “We are extremely proud of the work we’ve delivered as part of our Made Local initiative. We recognise the value of supporting local communities because pubs, landlords and their drinkers are crucial to making Carling what it is. To see the tangible impact this initiative has had on the communities we’ve worked with has been fantastic. We look forward to supporting more local communities across the UK throughout 2018.”

Sheffield-based brewer lodges plans to convert former dairy into micro-brewery: Sheffield-based Holley Paquette Brewers has submitted plans to launch a micro-brewery at a former dairy in the city. The company has applied to Sheffield City Council to transform Unit 8 at The Old Dairy in Broadfield Road. Built in the 1920s, The Old Dairy was a milk and cheese processing plant that was repurposed into industrial units. The unit covered by the application is one of the original dairy buildings. The micro-brewery would be created on the ground floor and produce craft beer in bottles and kegs for sale to wholesale customers, Insider Media reports. A statement submitted as part of the application read: “The proposal to renovate Unit 8 of The Old Dairy for use as a micro-brewery is a sustainable use, which will provide jobs and increased business to the neighbourhood and beyond. The site has a history of food processing and manufacture, which is in keeping with this new proposal.” Holley Paquette Brewers’ directors, Dann and Martha Holley-Paquette, were previously behind the Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project in the US.

Kingfisher’s £25m Cornish holiday resort plans approved: Truro-based Kingfisher Resorts has had its plans to build a £25m holiday resort in Cornwall approved. Work is due to start later this year, leading to the creation of 200 jobs. The luxury holiday resort will be built on the site of a former caravan park at Carbis Bay, near St Ives, and consist of a 42-bedroom aparthotel, leisure facilities, and 130 villas and apartments. Kingfisher acquired the site a year ago from London-based property fund Frogmore Real Estates with planning permission for 123 holiday homes, of which 29 properties and the amenities building have already been built. Kingfisher plans to invest at least £25m to develop Una Resort and has already spent more than £200,000 to create Una Kitchen – a Mediterranean restaurant with wood-burning pizza oven. Kingfisher director Damian Sargent told Insider Media: “Una St Ives is in a fantastic location and we want to realise its full potential by creating a word-class resort featuring iconic architecture that takes its inspiration from the Cornish landscape.”