Benugo sales move through £100m barrier: Benugo, the operator of deli cafes and catering in high-profile venues such as the Natural History Museum and the Victoria & Albert museum, has reported turnover rose 13% to £100,100,000 in the year to 31 December 2016 thanks to the full-year benefit of contracts won in 2015 and new sites opened in 2016. The company saw profit before tax drop slightly to £5,482,000 from £5,924,000 the year before. The company reported a total of £20,118,000 in tax borne or collected by Benugo, compared with £18,063,000 the year before. It stated: “As an employer with a significant number of employees but operating in a relatively low-margin sector, corporation tax alone is not a balanced reflection of total tax contribution made by Benugo.” The company staff count grew to 1,030 from 1,004 the year before. Benugo’s immediate parent company is Westbury Street but the ultimate controlling party is Alastair Storey, who controls the ultimate parent company Cheadle Developments.
London restaurant operator Balans reports turnover boost: London-based restaurant operator Balans, led by David Taylor, has reported growth in turnover for the year to 31 December 2016. Turnover rose 19% to £10,413,518 from £8,420,643 as the company added two sites in the year. Margins also improved marginally to 70.2% from 69.6%. Net profit before tax rose to £592,848 from £291,401 the year before. A dividend of £100,000 was paid.
Camerons to continue roll-out of Head of Steam brand with Didsbury acquisition: Camerons Brewery is to open its 12th Head of Steam pub, this time in the Manchester suburb of Didsbury. The company will start work on the former Sanctuary venue, which has been closed for four years, in December ahead of an opening in early February 2018. The pub will offer 19 keg lines with a selection of rotating craft beers, eight cask ale and real cider lines, as well as premium cocktails, spirits and soft drinks. The food offering will include a brunch menu and a range of British pub classics with a focus on fresh, local ingredients. To complement its American beers, the venue will open with a range of burgers and 12-inch hotdogs, alongside deli taster boards, energy bowls, fish and chips, sausage and mash, and tacos. Camerons Brewery chief executive Chris Soley said: “We have been looking at a number of venues across the north west and identified the Manchester area as one of the key places. Didsbury is a popular town and we feel The Head of Steam venue will be another excellent addition. We are viewing a number of other potential sites across the UK as we look to continue expansion of our retail pub estate.” Last month, Camerons opened a Head of Steam pub in Liverpool.
Casual Dining Group drops plans to bring Las Iguanas to Colchester: Casual Dining Group has dropped plans to bring its South American-inspired restaurant brand Las Iguanas to Colchester, Essex. The company applied a year ago to Colchester Borough Council to open a site in Greytown House in High Street but has now pulled the plug on the plans, reports The Gazette. Replying to a resident who had asked about a potential opening day, a spokeswoman said: “Unfortunately we are no longer opening a new location in Colchester. From time to time our plans have to change for a number of reasons and, on this occasion, this has meant Colchester is no longer in our foreseeable plans. This isn’t to say we won’t look at the location again in the future.”
Damson Restaurant Group co-owner and ex-Gaucho partner team up to launch debut ‘terroir pub’ for new venture: Damson Restaurant Group co-owner Steve Pilling and ex-Gaucho managing partner Angus Pride have relaunched the Dog and Partridge in Manchester as a “terroir pub”. The pub in Wilmslow Road, Didsbury, has reopened following a five-week refurbishment and is a first venture for new company Pilling & Pride. The core Greene King beer offer remains, supplemented by craft beer from Manchester breweries and a “terroir-driven” old world wine list. Alongside cocktails, the whisky selection includes a strong line-up of Islay scotch, while gins include Curio, which is distilled with rock samphire from Cornwall. A simple food menu includes pastries and single-origin coffee from 10am, with cheese and meat platters, sandwiches and soup later in the day. Pride, who also managed several Living Ventures bars and restaurants in Manchester, told the Manchester Evening News: “What we are talking about when we call it a terroir pub is we have products that reflect the environment in which they are grown or produced as a signifier of quality. We need to be all things to all people really, which is a challenge – but one we welcome.” Damson Restaurant Group co-owner Simon Stanley is also on the board of directors, along with finance director Louise Dawson and executive chef Patrick Moyo. Pride said: “We have certainly got plans to grow. We have such a strong team on board it would be a shame not to.”
Steamin’ Billy to open one pub and close another this month: Leicestershire-based Steamin’ Billy Brewing is to open its latest pub this month but close another. The company will launch The White Horse in Atherstone, Warwickshire, at the end of October following a refurbishment and offering stone-baked pizza, steak and burgers alongside Steamin’ Billy ales, wine, cocktails and craft beer. However, the company will close The Three Crowns in the picturesque market town of Oakham in Rutland on Thursday, 12 October. The Three Crowns is a traditional British pub set in a quiet side street that offers craft beer, real ale, a beer garden, quiz nights and live music. A Steamin’ Billy spokesperson told the Leicester Mercury: “Sadly, The Three Crowns will close while we consider its future. Oakham has a good and varied choice of pubs and eateries in more prominent locations than The Three Crowns but we will keep the licence live and welcome any operators that may wish to take the premises on as a pub. Steamin’ Billy continues to expand with our latest venture in Atherstone offering a comprehensive food menu. The Great British pub continues to evolve and we hope we can find an operator to run The Three Crowns soon.” The opening and closure will leave Steamin’ Billy’s portfolio consisting of 11 pubs.
Holborn Leisure reveals details of first three sites: Holborn Leisure, the new venture from former Racine chef patron Henry Harris and James McCulloch, owner of The Harcourt in Marylebone, has revealed details of its first three sites. The company will reopen the Truscott Arms in Maida Vale, the Coach & Horses in Clerkenwell, and The Three Cranes in the City. The food side of the business will be driven by Harris, who will create seasonal menus that will be made relevant to each individual pub, blending French and British influences. The Three Cranes in Lower Thames Street will relaunch next month with a short menu that champions grilled specialties such as lamb chops, steak and grilled fish, and an extensive wine list. The Coach & Horses will reopen in January with a new-look bar and garden dining room, and a regularly changing menu. Meanwhile, The Truscott Arms will reopen under an-as-yet disclosed new name in February. It will feature a ground-floor space amid the original bar fittings, with a first-floor dining room serving a more developed menu featuring French cuisine and traditional Sunday roasts. Harris said: “I’m excited to be back in the kitchen. I see myself more as admiral of the fleet than chef-director but it’s a great feeling to be planning great menus for each of these dining rooms with these excellent new teams. McCulloch said his intention of buying the sites was to “save and preserve these noteworthy properties from being converted into real estate or nondescript chains”. He added: “We originally asked Henry to join as a consultant but, thanks to our mutual desire to create noteworthy pubs with exceptional dining, we invited him to become a partner so we can all work together to create genuinely special establishments.”
Yorkshire-based multi-siters acquire fifth site, third with Ei Group: Yorkshire-based multi-site operators Simon and Sharon Colgan have acquired their fifth site, and third with Ei Group. The Colgans are taking on The Empress Hotel in Harrogate, which will reopen on Monday, 23 October. The site is undergoing a £130,000 renovation, jointly funded by Ei Publican Partnerships and the Colgans to create a “quality traditional pub”. The investment will add a bar and increase capacity of the upstairs function room. The downstairs bar, which is naturally divided into two sections, will also receive significant renovations to create a dining area on one side and a sports viewing section on the other. There will also be live music. In addition to a new look and feel, the site will reopen with a new menu that champions traditional, fresh produce. The Colgans operate two Ei Publican Partnerships pubs in Leeds – The Duck And Drake and The Grove Inn – and two free-of-tie pubs – Harrogate Blues Bar in Harrogate and The Worlds End in Knaresborough. Simon Colgan said: “We have a good relationship with EI Group and saw the potential to fill a gap in Harrogate’s market. We were given freedom to renovate the pub and make our vision for the pub become a reality.” Ei Publican Partnerships regional manager Greg Smith added: “We’re committed to investing in traditional pubs at the heart of the community and are delighted to reopen The Empress Hotel with Sharon and Simon at the helm. They’re experienced publicans who have an extensive knowledge of the local area and what the community needs.”
London-based steakhouse and beer restaurant concept Beef & Brew launches £250,000 crowdfunding campaign to open second site: London-based steakhouse and beer restaurant concept Beef & Brew has launched a £250,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Seedrs as it looks to open its second site. The concept was launched by Michelin-trained Jessica Simmonds and Daniel Nathan in September 2015 in Kentish Town and hit its revenue target in its first year. Now it is raising funds to open its second site and is offering a 24.94% equity stake in return for the investment. The pitch states: “Beef & Brew was established with a multi-site plan in mind. We focus on quality but also simplicity, ensuring what we do is replicable while maintaining the quality required to be successful in the competitive UK dining scene. We’re now looking to open our second site, building on our success to date. We’ve identified various locations, with a shortlist of sites we are actively pursuing. The funds raised in this campaign will be used to support the opening of our next site. We have identified a number of possibilities, with two primary sites we are pursuing. Locations we are pursuing include strong Zone 2 locations, akin to Kentish Town but with higher footfall. These include West Hampstead, Brixton, Dalston and various other London neighbourhoods. We would also consider central districts such as London Bridge, Hoxton, Shoreditch and Soho, depending on affordability and deliverability. Primarily, the strategy is to roll out a coherent brand, with shareholder exit achieved via a business sale. The goal of the business is to generate a strong return on each new site with robust leases in strong locations, each of which, we believe, will be accretive to shareholder value. There is a mature market for the sale of restaurant businesses with experienced trade and private equity buyers, suggesting an exit will be achievable if we are successful in scaling the business.”
Bradford Brewery buys out founding director: Bradford Brewery has purchased and cancelled the shareholding held by its former director Matthew Halliday. The company is now owned by the other seven original shareholders, including directors Phillip Ogg and Mark Lister, and three new local investors. Ogg and Lister have restructured the business with a steady increase in wholesale beer sales. They have driven a number of other growth plans such as relaunching the Made of Bradford merchandise range. In August, they reopened the Exchange Ale House in Market Street as a debut standalone Bradford Brewery bar after taking on the lease from Trust Inns. The pub had been closed for four years.
7Bone launches online ordering: Better burger brand 7Bone, which is backed by private equity firm Kings Park Capital, has launched an online click-and-collect ordering platform. The new platform, created with technology company Preoday, will initially be rolled out for use by customers at the restaurant’s Reading branch. 7Bone said it would then look at extending the service to other branches, with the future possibility of launching a complementary pre-ordering mobile app, reports Feast Magazine. 7 Bone, founded by Matt Mollicone and Rich Zammit in 2013, operates six sites – in Bournemouth, Camberley, Eastbourne, Newbury, Reading and Southampton.
M&B wins Licensed Trade Charity award: Mitchells & Butlers has won a Licensed Trade Charity (LTC) annual volunteer award in the “outstanding corporate contribution” category. The company was one of a number in the sector honoured at the LTC’s awards dinner in Coventry. The award recognised Mitchells & Butlers’ support of the LTC in raising awareness and engaging staff in the charity’s befriending programme. A company campaign to raise awareness of the charity’s services included an initiative to recruit telephone befrienders to make regular calls to people in the trade who might feel lonely and isolated. Mitchells & Butlers head of employee relations Caroline Davies said: “The services offered by the charity are a great addition to our employee benefits so promoting its work makes complete sense”. Liz Gaffer, of the LTC, added: “We are pleased by the increasing engagement with organisations in the drinks trade. Their promotion of our free support services is a good thing for all involved.” Last year, the LTC supported 288 families in hardship who had a link with the drinks trade.
Oakman Inns and Restaurants to close first site for substantial refit and expansion: Oakman Inns and Restaurants is closing its first site – The Akeman in Tring in Hertfordshire – for a substantial refit almost ten years after its launch. The company will shut the venue on Sunday (8 October) and reopen it on Saturday, 11 November with a neighbouring shop Oakman acquired a couple of years ago incorporated to create more space. The bar and restaurant at 9 Akeman Street will retain its classic modern lines together with a natural blend of materials, including Lakeland slate, cedar cladding, and brass and zinc counters. An extension to the rear of 10 Akeman Street will allow the kitchen to be expanded and create space for a new wood-fired oven. Meanwhile, the restaurant will be enlarged by ten covers. Oakman Inns property director Malcolm Schooling said: “The spatial dynamics of number ten are quite different. There were two small parlour rooms, which have been stripped back to reveal original Victorian brick and timber. A single opening for customers is formed between the fireplace at number nine and the new front area of number ten. A small curved bar is being installed to provide a complete bar offering for our guests in what will be an area full of cosy corners with an opportunity to hold semi-private parties and events.” Oakman Inns now has 20 sites across the Home Counties and West Midlands.
Wright & Bell opens wine bar next to The Kitty Hawk: Fledgling restaurant and bar company Wright & Bell, which is backed by the Imbiba Partnership, has opened a wine bar next to its £3.2m “department store of dining” concept The Kitty Hawk in Finsbury Square, central London. The company has launched The Back Room Wine Bar as it looks to extend its evening offer. The space offers a weekly changing wine list with a mix of old and new-world wines sourced from local merchants. Guests will be served by the bottle and glass and can help themselves to a selection of wines on tap. The food menu will offer cheese and charcuterie as well as two small plates that change daily. Meanwhile, The Kitty Hawk has also unveiled new menus for its bar and downstairs restaurant. New main dishes include grilled sticky pork belly with crispy aubergine, snake beans and radish salad; and stargazy pie with haddock, prawns, mussels and broccoli. Desserts on offer include spiced pineapple carpaccio and lemon sorbet; and pecan pie with maple bacon ice cream.
Talash Hotels Group acquires Wolverhampton site for sixth acquisition in past 13 months: Talash Hotels Group has bought the Mercure Goldthorn Hotel in Wolverhampton, its sixth acquisition in the past 13 months, as part of its target to build a group of 20 hotels by 2020. The latest acquisition is the 11th site for the Leamington Spa-headquartered company, which is run by brothers Sanjay and Ravi Kathuria. The Mercure Goldthorn Hotel offers 74 bedrooms, an indoor swimming pool and five function rooms. Sanjay Kathuria told Insider Media: “There is plenty of untapped potential at Mercure Goldthorn. Not only is it extremely well placed for Wolverhampton city centre, there is also a real opportunity to develop the community and social side of the business. We’re planning to open up a further ten bedrooms, invest in the leisure facilities, restaurant and function rooms and build on local relationships to enable us to achieve that goal.” Mark Duggan, senior relationship manager at AIB (GB), which led the deal, added: “Sanjay and Ravi are ambitious entrepreneurs with a clearly defined strategy of buying strategically located properties with potential for development. Mercure Goldthorn matches that strategy perfectly.”
BrewDog releases craft beer book: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has released its debut book – Craft Beer For The People. Available across Europe, the book includes 20 beer recipes, a section on pairing beer and food, and tasting sheets. BrewDog stated: “We have put pen to paper on the ultimate book on craft beer, featuring how it is made, why it is incredible and how you can taste and enjoy it wherever you are. Plus, we have included a detailed section on pairing beer and food, how to cook with your favourite beer and, for homebrewers, 20 recipes including some from other craft breweries that have never been previously published. But we wanted to make Craft Beer For The People more than just a typical beer book so we have made it interactive, with tasting sheets to annotate, I-spy sections to complete when you’re reading it in a bar, and even your own customisable beer mat in the back you can pop out and take with you. This is a book to spill beer on, not one to gather dust.”
D&D London launches Fareshare partnership at Blueprint Cafe: Restaurant group D&D London has launched a partnership with food charity FareShare at its Blueprint Cafe venue. From Monday, 16 October until Sunday, 19 November the riverside restaurant will use surplus ingredients from FareShare provided to them directly from supermarkets and food suppliers that would otherwise be discarded to create daily specials and fund-raise for the charity. Head chef Joe Albina will work to create dishes utilising the fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy, meat, seafood and other in-date surplus ingredients to create a daily changing menu for diners. Half the profits from the daily specials will be donated to FareShare and customers will have an opportunity to add a further £1 donation to their final bill.
Former Charles Wells marketing director starts consultancy roles with drinks brands: Former Charles Wells marketing director Jason Wills has started consultancy roles with Kingfisher Beer and Jam Jar Gin. Wills left Bedford-based brewer and retailer Charles Wells in May after 14 months with the company. Previously, Wills was interim head of marketing at Cineworld, joining from Merlin Entertainments where he was marketing director at Thorpe Park resort for more than two years. He has also worked as a senior brand manager at Heineken UK. Wills has also become a mentor for The Friday Club, which is a startup community based in Shoreditch, and also for Silicon Abbey, a digital community in St Albans, Hertfordshire.
OPH Hotels acquires Cheshire conference and banqueting venue for third site: OPH Hotels has acquired a conference and banqueting venue in Cheshire from Zaman Hotels for an undisclosed sum in a deal brokered by agents GVA. The 37-bedroom Paddington House Hotel in Warrington is two miles from the town centre on the A57. OPH Hotels, led by Raju Handa, also owns and operates The Dean Hotel and Quarterz Serviced Apartments, both in Chester. Handa said: “The hotel is well positioned to take advantage of busy midweek corporate trade as well as weekend leisure business and fits in well with our portfolio. We are excited about the opportunity this property will offer our business.” Martin Davis, director of the hotels and leisure team at GVA’s Manchester office, added: “This established and well-located property provides a fantastic opportunity for the new owners to enhance and further develop trade. The deal was arranged by way of a relatively low-key marketing campaign, which demonstrates the continued demand for good-quality hotel assets in the north of England.” Zaman Hotels sold the site as part of its strategic plans to grow and develop its hotel business in other locations.