Pizza Hut launches first UK loyalty programme that rewards delivery customers: Pizza Hut is to launch its first UK loyalty programme that rewards delivery customers as competition in the market continues to grow. The Hut Rewards programme will enable customers to earn a special reward currency – “slices” – with one slice earned for every £10 spent. The rewards will be split into three levels – consumers will receive a free side dish for five slices, a free medium pizza for seven slices, and a free large pizza for ten slices, at which point the programme restarts. Hut Rewards will only be achieved on delivery orders placed online or via the Pizza Hut app, which currently make up 80% of total orders. The roll-out across more than 400 sites nationwide makes the UK the first market in Europe to introduce the rewards programme following its launch in the US and Canada last year. Stephan Croix, chief sales and brand officer at Pizza Hut Europe and UK, told Marketing Week: “The ambition is to make Hut Rewards the easiest and richest loyalty programme in the food delivery segment. We have spent a lot of time simplifying and making it easier and faster for consumers to order a pizza online. The next stage was to close the loop with the loyalty programme.” The business expects there to be multiple opportunities to use the data gathered through the Hut Rewards sign-ups to refine the experience for users. Croix also sees this as an opportunity to build stronger relationships with potential customers who don’t regularly choose Pizza Hut and help the brand refine its menu based on what it learns about consumer preferences.
Muffin Break to focus expansion on south of England, Midlands and major UK shopping centres in 2019 as it prepares for final opening of year: Muffin Break is to focus its expansion on the south of England, Midlands and major UK shopping centres in 2019. The company revealed its strategy as it prepares for its final opening of 2018 – in Bexleyheath, Kent, on Thursday (29 November). The venue in Broadway will seat 70 customers and be a first site for franchisee Zaheer Ahmed. Muffin Break head of estates Joshua Nixon said: “We are excited to open our final Muffin Break site of 2018 in Bexleyheath – concluding a strong year of new-store growth. Despite the regular uncertain media reports on UK retail, we are continuing to unlock towns and cities across the UK, securing competitive deals with landlords across the board and operating successful stores. Our expansion strategy for 2019 is focused on the Midlands and the south of England, as well as major shopping centres across the UK.”
Orange Tree sells two sites to Koban Group: Independent pub group The Orange Tree has sold two more sites. The company has sold The Lansdowne in Leicester and Fenways in Loughborough to Koban Group, a local independent operator, for an undisclosed sum. It comes after the sale earlier this month by Orange Tree of four of its sites to Bedford-based brewer and retailer Charles Wells. Fenways is a burger and smokehouse restaurant in the Baxter Gate complex in Loughborough that opened last year. The Lansdowne in London Road, Leicester, is a gastro-pub set in a 1960s building and has been part of the Orange Tree Group since 2004. The deal was brokered by Nottingham based-agents Everard Cole. Orange Tree Group was founded by Ben Hings and Gareth Smith in 1997. The deal leaves the company with Orange Tree in Derby and The Basement in Leicester. Hings said: “It’s great to see our staff and concepts are transferring to another independent that recognises our values and the importance we place on providing a great experience for the customer. Without the efforts and hard work of our staff, for which we thank them, we would not have such bespoke places to eat and drink which generate such considerable interest from the local community.” Koban Group also owns fine dining restaurant The White Peacock in Leicester, and Aspects in Enderby, a fine dining Indian restaurant. Raghu Kodakandala, of Koban Group, said: “With the people we have in place and working with them all to build on how the customer feels, I’m sure we will have a strong business which local people can enjoy for years to come.” The sites sold to Charles Wells were the Orange Tree pubs in High Street, Leicester, and Ward’s End, Loughborough, along with the neighbouring Kelso in Loughborough, and the Orange Tree pub in Nottingham.
Domino’s Pizza reveals plans to strengthen board with new independent non-executive directors: Domino’s Pizza has revealed it is looking to strengthen its board with the appointment of two independent non-executive directors. One will replace Steve Barber, who has announced he intends to step down as a non-executive director at the company’s annual meeting in 2019. Meanwhile, the company said it was also looking to “broaden and complement” the board’s skills and experience by adding a director. It stated: “Domino’s has commenced a search for Steve’s successor, who will be announced in due course. In addition, Domino’s plans to search for an additional independent non-executive director to broaden and complement the existing skills and experience on the board.” This week, The Sunday Times reported Domino’s Pizza was under pressure to strengthen its board as shareholders pushed for a heavyweight non-executive director to more effectively challenge its chairman and chief executive.
Texture Restaurant Group sells 28-50 Wine Workshop and Kitchen, Maddox Street site under separate offer: London-based Texture Restaurant Group has sold its 28-50 Wine Workshop and Kitchen in Marylebone Lane while its sister site in Maddox Street is under offer with negotiations at an advanced stage. The company stated: “28-50 Wine Workshop and Kitchen in Marylebone Lane, part of the Texture Restaurant Group, has been sold following a fantastic offer that was too good to refuse. From 1 December, 28-50 will operate under new management. The name and concept will not change but there will be no involvement from previous chef patron and owner Aggi Sverrisson. Separately, its sister site 28-50 Maddox Street is under offer with negotiations at an advanced stage. Sverrisson will continue to focus on his Michelin-starred Icelandic restaurant Texture, which in November 2018 was named the highest-scoring restaurant for food in Harden’s restaurant survey.”
International cyber cafe brand Wanyoo Café to make European debut, in London’s West End: International cyber cafe brand Wanyoo Café is to make its European debut by launching a site in London’s West End. Founded in Shanghai in 1998, Wanyoo Café operates more than 1,100 cyber cafes in more than 50 cities worldwide, including in the US, Australia and Canada. The brand will make its UK debut in Charing Cross Road at a 5,330 square foot site set across two floors. Wanyoo Café has chosen Central Cross due to its position bordering Chinatown London and its connectivity to Covent Garden, Soho and Leicester Square. Wanyoo Café director Zhaorong Chen said: “This prime position is perfect for our European debut and has great visibility and connectivity. London has one of the world’s most diverse populations and we are excited to welcome a whole new customer base to Wanyoo Café.” Andrew Price, asset executive at landlord Shaftesbury, added: “Video gaming has become a community activity, attracting vast numbers of spectators and contributors seeking to enjoy a shared passion. We have seen first-hand the immense popularity of Wanyoo Café in China and are confident it will be a successful addition to the capital’s line-up of unique leisure experiences. There is also a great synergy between Wanyoo Café and how Chinatown London is evolving to reflect the fusion of the traditional and modern in the Far East. Consequently, we are delighted the brand has selected this location for the first move of its European expansion plans.”
Supper club WeFiFo passes halfway mark in £400,000 crowdfunding campaign to recruit UK hosts and expand internationally: Supper club WeFiFo has passed the halfway mark in its £400,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to recruit UK hosts and expand internationally. The company is offering 12.50% equity in return for investment, giving a pre-money valuation of £2.8m. So far, 51 investors have pledged £257,770 with 15 days of the campaign remaining. WeFiFo raised £350,000 in angel investment in 2016 to launch and roll-out its platform nationwide, while John Lewis Partnership (JLP) invested £100,000 in the company last year following its success in JLAB – JLP’s annual accelerator programme. WeFiFo enables home cooks, supper club hosts and professional chefs to “share their food with paying guests”. Launched by Seni Glaister, former founder and chief executive of The Book People, the service has 4,500 active users in seven countries. The pitch states: “WeFiFo is a two-sided marketplace, serving both chef and guest. Described as ‘Airbnb for the kitchen table’, WeFiFo enables those with a love of cooking to earn a flexible income from their food and offers diners more choice. WeFiFo charges a variable commission on ticket sales. In return, it offers marketing and admin support and insures hosts, their guests and their equipment. Hosts who need it are offered food and hygiene training and WeFiFo’s unique platform allows hosts to accept or decline bookings based on a guest’s profile. Events have taken place in hosts’ homes, cafes, pop-ups, supermarkets, shopping centres, parks, boats and high streets in seven countries. WeFiFo’s first target is to recruit 33,000 UK hosts and expand into three new international territories. We will use food to connect the world, one table at a time, with the aim no guest will be further than ten miles from their nearest WeFiFo event.”
Red Mist Leisure reopens £2.5m Hampshire pub for ninth site following biggest investment to date: Pub operator Red Mist Leisure, founded by Mark Robson and Mark Williams, has reopened The Wellington Arms in Stratfield Turgis, Hampshire, following a £2.5m refurbishment. The group’s largest investment to date has created more than 40 jobs. Located on the Wellington Estate the pub, which had been closed for two years, now offers wooden tables, booth seating, log burners and a terrace. The pub, which is Red Mist’s ninth site, offers local craft beer and ale, wine and spirits including a range of local, artisan gin. Private dining areas and electric car-charging ports are also available, while 25 boutique bedrooms will open early next year. The food menu focuses on traditional classics such as fish and chips and seasonal pies, while the 160-cover function room has its own entrance, lobby, cloakroom, AV equipment and bar. The Wellington Arms general manager Joe Simkins said: “This pub is a real milestone for Red Mist Leisure as we head into our 15th year. We look forward to making our pub the heartbeat of the community.” Last week, the British Institute of Innkeeping appointed Robson as its new chairman. Red Mist Leisure is due to exchange on a tenth site “imminently”.
Adventure Leisure to bring indoor golf brand Mr Mulligan’s to Birmingham:Adventure Leisure is bringing its adventure golf brand Mr Mulligan’s Lost World Golf to Birmingham. The company will open the site at the Broadway Plaza complex in Ladywood Middleway before Christmas. The Birmingham venue will be space-themed with three intergalactic golf courses. There will also be a restaurant offering dishes such as pizza, salad and sharing plates as well as a cocktail bar. An Adventure Leisure spokesman told Birmingham Live: “The ultimate night-time destination is heading to Birmingham at Broadway Plaza. This winter, witness one of the most fascinating indoor adventure golf venues with three courses, a large restaurant and late-night bar.” Adventure Leisure operates eight other Mr Mulligan’s Lost World Golf sites, including Cheltenham and Milton Keynes.
Young’s signs ‘long-term’ deal with Wireless Social to help uncover customer behaviour: London pub retailer Young’s has signed a “long-term” deal with Wi-Fi solutions provider Wireless Social to help uncover customer behaviour. The installation, taking place across 200 venues including Smiths of Smithfield and The Naturalist, will allow Young’s to segment its customer base and determine individual preferences to inform its ongoing marketing strategy for more direct targeting. Wireless Social will also push the company’s presence through personalised log-in pages across the platform. Young’s director of marketing Gillian McLaren said: “As we look to improve the guest experience across all our venues, it’s extremely important we have an in-depth understanding of who they are and what they like to inform our strategy moving forward. We were very impressed with the personal and responsive service from Wireless Social, from initial trials through to implementing digital user journeys.” Wireless Social managing director Julian Ross added: “We are thrilled to be working with a company as renowned as Young’s to help it gain a clearer understanding of its customers. Through the installation of Wireless Social, it will be able to support its marketing by seeing when its customers are most likely to visit each venue and whether a campaign has driven them there.”
Former Club Gascon wine buyer launches Clerkenwell tapas bar: Anthonin Charlier, former wine buyer for Michelin-starred restaurant Club Gascon, has launched wine and tapas bar Le Cellar in Clerkenwell. Charlier, who was also in charge of drinks at The Bulgari Hotel in Knightsbridge, has opened the venue in partnership with entrepreneur Simon Maniora. Taking over a site in St John Street that formerly housed Brooklyn diner, Le Cellar focuses on natural, organic and biodynamic wine from artisan producers around the world to drink in or take away. Head chef Matt Smith has created a tapas menu that features “unique combinations inspired from every corner of the globe”, Hot Dinners reports.
Nando’s to open flagship restaurant in Birmingham city centre: Nando’s is to open a flagship site in Birmingham city centre. The company will open the restaurant in New Street early next year. It has agreed a deal for a former Halifax branch through agent Redleaf, with work under way on the 5,149 square foot property. Redleaf also acted for Canadian cafe and bake shop Tim Hortons on the opening of its site in Birmingham – its first in the Midlands. The 3,918 square foot outlet, which is also in New Street, opened last week. Redleaf founder Paul Bishton said: “These are important acquisitions for both operators in prime locations within Birmingham city centre. These acquisitions highlight how the fast-casual and coffee segments of the leisure dining sector remain particularly resilient.”
Midlands-based cidery launches £120,000 crowdfunding campaign to expand capacity: Midlands-based Napton Cidery has launched a £120,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to expand capacity. The cider producer is offering 14.37% equity in return for investment, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £715,000. The Olivier family founded Napton Cidery in February 2016. Sales from its cider mill in Southam, near Leamington Spa, increased more than 1,000% over the past year, from £6,800 to £68,000, at a loss of £38,850.42. The pitch states: “We started by producing 1,500 litres of cider in 2016. We sold out by the following Christmas and decided to make more. In 2017, we produced more than 16 flavours of cider, not including our apple brandy, vinegar and apple juice. Sales increased to 9,000 litres between April 2017 and April 2018. During the past three months we have sold about 3,000 litres per month – things seem to be picking up rapidly. The cider industry has grown 3.5% in the past year, which is more than expected in the current financial climate. The company is looking to increase cider production to keep up with demand. This includes our new fruit ciders, with the category now representing 27% of the UK cider market. We are currently operating at 62% to 64% margin per product. We plan to release several new products next year in champagne-style bottles, with which we aim to increase our turnover and profit per litre by economies of scale to give us the opportunity to break into the sparkling cider market. We also aim to increase our on-trade and private sales this year with a new online shop. We plan to employ a new member of staff to look after our marketing, especially design and graphics, which is currently outsourced.”
Spiritland team launches cocktails and pizza concept for second King’s Cross site: The team behind King’s Cross cafe, bar and radio studio Spiritland has launched a sister site focusing on pizza and cocktails. Happy Face and Supermax has opened across two floors of a site in nearby Handyside Street that houses an Everyman cinema. Happy Face pizzeria is on the ground floor and offers pizza by day and cocktails in the evening. Alongside pizza made from dough fermented for 72 hours, the menu includes antipasti, gelato and dolci. Supermax is a late-night basement cocktail bar that takes inspiration from Italian disco including mirror balls, velvet wall hangings and a Europop soundtrack, Hot Dinners reports. Spiritland was launched in 2016 by Patrick Clayton-Malone and Dominic Lake, founders of comfort food concept Canteen and Merchants Tavern, and music consultant Paul Noble. Spiritland also runs a “headphone bar” in Mayfair, while Canteen operates at the Royal Festival Hall and in Spitalfields.
BaxterStorey appoints regional managing director for south west: Contract catering company BaxterStorey has appointed Mack Allan as regional managing director for the south west and Wales. Allan has overseen the opening of a regional office in Bristol as the company aims to develop a stronger presence in the region. Beginning his career as a chef in the armed forces, Allan progressed into management at British Aerospace Filton and landed his first operations manager role covering the wider Bristol area. Allan joined BaxterStorey in 2000 and has progressed through various leadership roles in Reading, London and Scotland. His last role was regional director for Scotland. He said: “The south west and Wales is a strong growth area and we have some fantastic clients there. My role is to nurture these relationships and set us up for the next stage in our growth across this thriving region. Contract catering has moved on so much since I joined the industry. I’m excited about returning to the area and really looking forward to renewing some old acquaintances.” BaxterStorey co-chief executive John Bennett added: “We are delighted to appoint Mack as regional managing director with his wealth of experience and strong knowledge of the local area.”
Former Noma chef opens Mediterranean restaurant in Mayfair: Former Noma and Gordon Ramsay Group chef Tilly Turbett has opened a Mediterranean restaurant in Mayfair. Pucci Mayfair has launched in Maddox Street offering small plates showcasing Mediterranean flavours and pizza inspired by former King’s Road restaurant Pucci Pizza. The menu features Italian, Turkish and Lebanese influences with seasonal dishes designed to be shared mezze-style alongside pizza. Dishes include Barbary duck breast with pomegranate molasses and sweet potato, and sticky delizia pumpkin with honey, sesame and goat curd. Pizzas are produced using the same recipe Pucci Albanese served at his pizzeria, while the wine list is predominantly Italian. The decor combines the exposed brick and suspended greenery of a New York loft with the charm of a traditional Italian bistro. It also features a street-side terrace.
Wadworth crowns its ‘best of the best’: Brewer and retailer Wadworth has recognised the stand-out pubs and people from its managed and tenanted estates at its Best of the Best Awards. The annual event took place this week at The Bear Hotel in Devizes, Wiltshire, with winners including Danny and Tara Adams, who run the Greyhound and The George in Chippenham, who scooped the best tenanted business partners award. Other winners included Ray Turnbull, of Bartons Mill Pub & Dining in Old Basing, Hampshire (best manager); and Phill Butler and Freya Loveless, of the Green Dragon in Brook, Hampshire (best turnaround pub). Chief executive Chris Welham said: “The Best of the Best Awards is a brilliant event where we can show our appreciation to our great pubs and the people who put their heart and soul into running them. We are very proud of having some of the best pubs in the West Country and these awards give us the perfect opportunity to join together with our managers, business partners and team members to recognise their hard work. Pubs just wouldn’t be the places they are without the fantastic people running them.”
South east Asian street food concept launches three-month pop-up at Boxpark Croydon: South east Asian street food concept D’Asia has opened a three-month pop-up at Boxpark Croydon. Founder and chef Jason V focuses his menu on the “comforting food cooked up by family members, with big flavours and hearty portions”. It features a selection of seasonal vegetables served with rice or noodles, with every dish made to order. While travelling throughout south east Asia, Jason V lived in Laos and Thailand, followed by moves to the US, France, Spain and Italy, acting as a chef for first and business class passengers flying with Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific.
Marston’s wins national energy award: Marston’s has won a national award for its services to energy management. The company picked up the Energy Management Team of the Year accolade at the Energy Management Awards. The Marston’s team, comprising head of group facilities Andy Kershaw, energy manager and Marston’s Water chief executive Chris White, waste and recycling co-ordinator Jon Davies and senior surveyor Sarah Taylor, have been working on broader environmental and sustainability agendas across the pub and beer company side of the business. During the past 12 to 18 months, the focus on a more sustainable Marston’s has driven multiple changes that have seen the company deliver initiatives such as zero waste to landfill, plastic-alternative straws across the pub estate and a self-supply water licence