Leading US bakery cafe chain reports like-for-like surge: Leading US cafe bakery brand Panera Bread has reported profit increased 10.1% in the first quarter ended 29 March, with like-for-like sales rising 4.7%. “Our growth in like-for-like sales and transactions was the best we generated in four years, and we outperformed the BlackBox all-industry composite by the widest margin we have ever recorded,” Ron Shaich, Panera chief executive and chairman, said in a statement. The bakery-cafe operator reported profit of $35.1m, or $1.45 per share, rising from $31.9m, or $1.20 per share, in the same period a year ago. Revenue increased 5.6% to $685.2m, from $648.5m in the prior-year quarter. Like-for-like sales at company-owned bakery-cafes rose 6.2%, and like-for-like sales at franchised units increased 3.3% in the quarter, Panera said. Company-owned restaurants saw transaction growth of 2.4% and check growth of 3.8%.
Pizza Hut debuts promise time for delivery of online orders in US: Pizza Hut in the US has debuted its new “Visible Promise Time” website feature, which gives customers delivery and carry-out wait times before they make an order, Nation’s Restaurant News has reported. Baron Concors, chief digital officer, said the new feature is intended to add transparency to the ordering process. He said: “We’re looking at all angles of our business to figure out how we can bring that transparency and authenticity of our brand to the consumers, and this is one of the best ways we’ve found.” With the ride-share Uber app and other technologies, consumers are growing accustomed to “getting what they want when they want it”, Concors said. He added: “In that spirit, we said, ‘Let’s just tell them before they order how long it will take’.” Pizza Hut began testing “Visible Promise Time” in December. The feature started rolling out in February, and this week was available in 95% of domestic non-express locations, or about 6,000 units, Concors said. It allows customers to see an estimated ten-minute window of when their food will be ready prior to placing the order.
More than 40,000 Starbucks staff participate in mentoring initiative: Starbucks has said more than 40,000 of its employees had taken part in this year’s Global Month of Service initiative that takes place annually in April. Staff participate in mentoring activities to support people aged 16 to 24 who are not in school or employment. Starbucks said half of the 40,000 participants were employed outside the US, with major community service projects taking place in countries including Canada, China and Mexico. UK staff, along with charity partner The Challenge, organised the second “Open Starbucks” for 90 young people in London, where Starbucks provided a behind-the-scenes look at its business alongside interview skills training. The company also organised the Opportunity Cafe, a series of resume-writing workshops that took place at 29 stores across ten countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
Food hygiene number one priority for consumers when eating out – report: The majority of diners place more importance on cleanliness than customer service and avoid going to restaurants implicated in a food hygiene incident, according to a new study by management solutions company Checkit.net. The survey of 1,000 consumers found 75% wouldn’t risk dining at an establishment implicated in a food hygiene incident, even if recommended by someone they trusted, or would only dine there if it had changed hands. Almost two-thirds (61%) of respondents would not visit a business with a Food Standards Agency hygiene rating of two or below, while 66% rated unclean premises as the first or second reason for not returning – only 16% cited poor service. Consumers had highest expectations of fine dining restaurants, as 69% said they wouldn’t visit any with a low food hygiene rating, followed by takeaways (64%) and cafes and coffee shops (55%). Checkit.net said the study highlighted growing public awareness of food safety issues and served as a warning to operators. Marketing director Dee Roche said: “It doesn’t matter if you are a Michelin-starred restaurant or a local takeaway – consumers will not tolerate poor food hygiene and will vote with their feet if you’ve been implicated in a food hygiene incident. This demonstrates the enormous impact poor food safety has on the survival of businesses.”
Ceviche founder Martin Morales designs on-board menu for new British Airways service to Peru: Martin Morales, who pioneered Peruvian food in London when he launched Ceviche in 2012, has designed the on-board menu for British Airways’ new direct service to Peru, which starts on Wednesday, 4 May. The service will run three times a week – the only direct flights between London and Lima. The special menu will be served to all customers on flights between the two cities until 4 June. Dishes include Causa de Camaron (mashed yellow potatoes, fresh prawns and Amarillo chilli) and Bistec Escabechado (grilled soy and cumin-marinated beef fillet with pickled tomato, onion salsa and sweetcorn puree). Club World customers will also be offered a traditional pisco sour cocktail, which blends pisco brandy with lemon juice and egg whites. Morales, executive chef at London restaurants Ceviche Soho, Ceviche Old Street and Andina, said: “It has been a fascinating challenge to take restaurant cooking into a format that works at 35,000 feet but also a real privilege to work on the launch of a new service that connects two cities with such fantastic food scenes.”
Innventure secures free-of-tie lease at its prime Cambridge site, set to launch ‘liquor loft’: Innventure, the gastro-pub operator led by former Mitchells & Butlers executive Chris Gerard, has negotiated a new free-of-tie lease with Greene King on its D’arrys site in Cambridge – and is to launch a bespoke drink-led “liquor loft” in an unused area above the existing restaurant. The area was the brewing headquarters of Cambridge Brewery owner George Scales, who brewed and owned pubs in Cambridge at the turn of the 19th century – it still contains much of the brewer’s equipment including mash tuns and a hot liquor furnace. The “liquor loft” will open in a month’s time with the site renamed D’arrys Liquor Loft and Restaurant. Gerard told Propel: “The level of capital investment in Cambridge at the moment is extraordinary – there are a huge number of cranes dotting the skyline. We’ve got to capitalise on our prime site.” The “liquor loft” will offer barrel-ageing, its own infusions and syrups, and stock a more interesting range of beers, including a link-up with Gerard’s former colleague at Vintage Inns, Jim Minkin, who has operated Purity Brewery since 2005. The “liquor loft” will also provide a second rooftop terrace at the site. “The ‘liquor loft’ will feel like somewhere you visit before or after you’ve been to a restaurant,” said Gerard.
Star Pubs & Bars to invest £2.4m in external areas at 100 pubs: Star Pubs & Bars is allocating £2.4m of its £20m 2016 investment budget on improving the external areas at 100 of its pubs. Outside eating and drinking areas will be developed at 25 pubs to increase their capacity and covers. A further 75 pubs will benefit from new signage and external decorations to enhance their appeal. Where possible work will be scheduled for completion prior to the peak summer trading months and, for pubs with a reputation for sport, in time for Euro 2016. All-weather solutions will be incorporated into many of the schemes, which will also extend their use into the colder months. These will include heaters and retractable covers and sides for seated areas. Where appropriate, creatively designed pods and sheds will be installed to cater for smaller groups of customers and give pubs a point of difference from their competition. Licensees will be making corresponding internal improvements. These will range from premiumising their drinks and changing their menus to redecorating or adding a new coffee offer. Lawson Mountstevens, Star Pubs & Bars managing director, said: “These projects will meet customer demand for al-fresco dining and boost pubs’ capacity for a relatively low spend. The outside of a pub is its shop window and if it looks great it will attract passing trade.” A £40,000 investment in the outside area at the Hazeldene in Gretna Green is typical of Star’s approach. Part of a £220,000 refurbishment of the pub and hotel, it has added a 40-cover deck to the building accessible through French doors from the pub’s dining area helping to double its trading space. A retractable canopy and temporary sides can be erected to protect the deck during cold and rainy weather. The extra capacity will also allow the licensees to grow their function and wedding business.
New modern Italian restaurant concept to open in Kensington next month: A new modern Italian restaurant concept is to open in Kensington, west London, next month. Entrepreneurs Kanav Puri and Suraj Mehra are launching Osteria 60 in Hyde Park Gate, next to the Baglioni hotel, on Wednesday, 11 May. The restaurant, which is inspired by traditional Milanese trattorias of the 1950s, will seat 88 with 15 more at the bar, reports Hot Dinners. There is also a 30-seat terrace facing Kensington Gardens. Head chef Ivan Simeoli, who has worked with Oliver Peyton at his restaurants, will bring together British ingredients with Italian staples. The menu will include carpaccio of wild sea bass with sea urchins, lamb chop with Sicilian aubergine and caponata, and tiramisu croccante. There will also be a separate bar menu serving pizzette, arancini, bruschetta, and seasonal pasta dishes. The drinks menu will include modern and classic cocktails and a wine list of 140 bins.
Papa John’s franchisee opens 19th site, first in Hereford: Papa John’s franchisee Jitesh Patel has opened his 19th site in the UK – in Commercial Road, Hereford – and said he had taken inspiration from the company’s founder. Papa John’s was founded in the US in 1985 by John Schnatter. Patel said: “John Schnatter was certainly an inspiration to me. I joined Papa John’s 12 years ago and have built up my portfolio of stores as the company’s popularity has grown.” Papa John’s business development manager Anthony Round said: “Hereford has over 53,000 residents so is a ‘hot’ location for our latest franchised Papa John’s. As well as many families being located in the region, the town has several higher-education establishments so students will also be able to sample our top quality pizza delivered to their door.” The Papa John’s franchise operates more than 4,800 stores in 40 international markets and territories, including more than 300 in the UK, and is currently recruiting new franchisees in the region.
McDonald’s launches three new burgers and offers spicy chicken choice: McDonald’s has launched three new burgers and, for the first time, customers will be given a choice of how spicy they want their Buffalo BBQ Chicken meal. The new burgers – the Tennessee Stack, the New York Stack and the Tex Mex Stack – form part of McDonald’s “Great Tastes of America” promotion, which is in its tenth year. The Tennessee Stack features two burgers, Beechwood smoked bacon, grilled onions and smoky cheese with Tennessee-style barbecue sauce in a flour-topped bun. The New York Stack has two burgers, ketchup, mustard, Beechwood smoked bacon, cheese, slaw and pickles in a bagel. The Tex Mex Stack features nachos along with two burgers, pepper jack cheese and spicy smoky sauce in a hot and spicy bun. As a new promotion, McDonald’s customers will also be able to choose the heat of the sauce on their Spicy Buffalo BBQ Chicken, making the burger available in “Hot” or “Extra Hot”. Great Tastes of America will be available at participating McDonald’s restaurants for six weeks, with each burger available for two weeks at a time, starting with The Tennessee Stack. The Spicy Buffalo BBQ Chicken will be available until Tuesday, 7 June.
Leicester-based Stonebaked Pizza Co to open second site in Nottingham: Leicester-based Stonebaked Pizza Co is to start expanding by opening its second site in Nottingham. The company has signed a deal to open in the new Clocktower dining area at the Intu Victoria Centre later this year, creating 25 jobs. It will join The Restaurant Group brands Joe’s Kitchen and Coast to Coast, Ed’s Easy Diner, Thai Leisure Group’s Thaikhun, Tortilla, and Handmade Burger Co in the new dining area, which opened in October last year as part of a £40m refurbishment of the centre. Stonebaked Pizza Co managing director Ian Morgan, told The Business Desk: “This is the fast-casual artisan pizza concept featuring our lighter than air crust, chef-driven recipes and high quality ingredients and we are delighted as part of our expansion to be opening at Intu Victoria Centre.” Nigel Wheatley, general manager at Intu Victoria Centre, said: “We have always been very keen that Clocktower dining brings something new to the city, rather than taking away from the high street, and we’re really pleased to be able to bring yet another new name to Nottingham in Stonebaked Pizza Co.” Nottingham-based agents FHP oversaw the deal. Stonebaked Pizza Co’s inaugural restaurant is at the Highcross Shopping Centre in Leicester.
Restaurateurs to launch roadside concept Meat Inc in Lincoln: The owners of American smokehouse restaurant Ribs ‘n’ Bibs in The Strait, Lincoln, are set to open a new roadside concept north of the city – Meat Inc. Business partners Adam Morgan and Charles Patrick have invested £150,000 to transform a former cafe, creating 20 jobs. Meat Inc is expected to open in the summer, from 8am to 8pm, and will offer burgers, all-day breakfasts, coffees and shakes. Patrick told The Lincolnite: “We wanted to try a roadside location and to raise the standard of roadside food. We’ve had the brand idea for a couple of years, which is registered as a trademark, and we’re now ready to go forward with it. It will be a drive-to location with a car park and we hope to attract people from the north of Lincoln and surrounding villages.”
Whitbread-owned Premier Inn acquires Hilton hotel in Newbury: Whitbread-owned Premier Inn has acquired a Hilton hotel in Newbury, Berkshire. The company has now closed the 109-bedroom Hilton Newbury Centre hotel in Pinchington Lane for a £10m refurbishment before reopening it later this year as a Premier Inn. A spokesman told the Newbury Weekly News: “We expect to reopen the hotel in a phased format, which will roll-out from October. While the hotel is closed, we are aiming to redeploy as many of the 35 staff currently working in Newbury to other Premier Inn sites in the Hampshire and Berkshire area, before it reopens. We are currently in a period of consultation with the staff and we’re working with them to explore as many options as possible to find work for them within our other sites.” It will be the second Premier Inn to come to Newbury, after plans were approved in February for a 100-bedroom hotel near Parkway, next door to rival Travelodge.
M&B converts former Orchid site in Shrewsbury into Harvester: Mitchells & Butlers has converted a former Orchid pub in Shrewsbury into a Harvester restaurant. The company has opened the venue on the site of The Beaten Track pub in Old Potts Way following a six-week refurbishment. The restaurant can seat more than 160 diners and has created 40 jobs. General manager Neal Stockham told the Shropshire Star: “We want to create a destination restaurant for feel-good dining and we’re thrilled to be providing Shrewsbury with a new restaurant and great tasting food that Harvester is renowned for.” The site has been refurbished as part of Mitchells & Butlers’ acquisition of 173 Orchid sites in 2014.
Chimichanga signs for new-look Bracknell town centre scheme: Tex-Mex restaurant Chimichanga, the brand owned by Prezzo, has signed to open in the new-look Bracknell town centre in Berkshire. The company has agreed a 3,400 square foot site at the 580,000 square foot retail, restaurant and leisure scheme known as The Lexicon Bracknell, reports Property Magazine International. The deal completes the ground-floor lettings in Eagle Lane, the scheme’s main restaurant hub. Other restaurant brands confirmed for the development include Nando’s, Wagamama and Gourmet Burger Kitchen. The £240m Lexicon Bracknell scheme is being developed by The Bracknell Regeneration Partnership – a 50:50 joint venture between Legal & General Capital and Schroder UK Real Estate Fund – and Bracknell Forest Council.
Stampede and Pound Bakery open sites at Leeds shopping centre: Stampede, the ribs, wings and burger grill restaurant concept by Cattle Grid owner Steven Novak, and Pound Bakery have opened sites at the St Johns Shopping Centre in Leeds. Stampede, which launched at the Intu Lakeside shopping centre in Thurrock, Essex, earlier this year, has opened its second site at the Albion Street complex. It occupies a 2,000 square foot unit and has created ten jobs. Meanwhile, Pound Bakery has launched its third Leeds store having opened in an 870 square foot unit between Card Factory and Virgin Media, creating 14 jobs. Mark Proudlove, from St Johns’ retail property consultants Barker Proudlove, told The Business Desk: “It is great news that an exciting new entrant to the city in Stampede has committed to Leeds and St Johns for its second UK branch, and Pound Bakery shows its continued commitment to Leeds in taking a new outlet.”
Swan Collection co-owner to open £1.5m bar and cafe concept in West Malling: The co-owner of the Swan Collection of restaurants Diccon Wright is to open a new £1.5m bar and cafe concept in West Malling, Kent. Wright is converting the grade II-listed pub, formerly known as the Lobster Pot, into Amano, which is expected to open in October. The site will have 80 covers along with another 40 in a new conservatory. The menu will have a strong modern Italian influence and include home-cured meats, freshly made pasta and sourdough pizzas. Wright said: “Having established the Swan at West Malling as a much-loved local brasserie and restaurant, we were keen to open a slightly more casual and family-friendly venue. Our food will continue to be as honest and high quality as ever, but we are looking forward to having some fun with a purpose-built wood-fired pizza oven and curing our own charcuterie. We are also delighted the Amano will see the restoration of a lovely old building in the heart of the village.” Wright operates a number of ventures in the UK and Mediterranean, including Swan at the Globe, a 90-cover restaurant, as well as running all the catering outlets on the site of the Globe Theatre in London.
Owner of Newcastle pub submits plans to double size of site with restaurant and brewery base: The owner of Newcastle pub The Cumberland Arms has submitted plans to extend the site to create a restaurant and brewery base. The family-owned business has applied to the city council to replace an adjoining garage and the current home of the Northern Alchemy brewery, which is in a converted shipping container. The extension, which would almost double the size of the site, will include three separate elements, each with their own entrances. The ground floor will house a purpose-built brewery space for Northern Alchemy, which is run by the Cumberland Arms’ general manager Jo Hodson’s husband Carl and her brother-in-law. Northern Alchemy is running at full capacity and the proposed brewery house will have a ten-barrel brewing kit accompanied by expanded bottling, kegging, canning and ancillary facilities – and it will also have space to accommodate visitors and brewery tours. The next floor up will be a purpose-built restaurant, which will be rented out, while the top floor will become a two-bedroom apartment for Jo Hodson, whose father Michael owns the business, and her family. Jo Hodson told Chronicle Live: “In general business is okay. Summer is our time with all of our outside events, beer festivals and music events. These are exciting times – very. The plans aim to ensure the long-term future of The Cumberland Arms.”
Betty’s Cafe owner makes changes to board: The owner of the iconic Betty’s Cafe Tea Rooms and the Yorkshire Tea brand has made changes to its board. Tori Rose has stepped down as a director of the £155m-turnover Betty’s & Taylors at the end of her term of office after almost a decade as a non-executive director. Rose has recently been elected as chair of the Betty’s & Taylors Family Council, which represents the views of family shareholders to the business and ensures the business adheres to the “Family Constitution” and the family’s vision and values. “My role as chair is to promote effective, trusting, positive influencing relationships between shareholders, the Family Council and the business to fulfil the spirit of the ‘Family Constitution’,” said Rose. Meanwhile, marketing and e-commerce specialist Philip Hanson has been added to the board of Betty’s & Taylors as a new non-executive director. Hanson, who was born and raised in Yorkshire, has spent most of his career working in marketing and started out at Rowntree in York before working for a range of businesses in sectors, including food and drink manufacturing, retail and financial services. During this time he worked across international markets on brands such as Kit Kat, Johnnie Walker Whisky, KFC and Pizza Hut and has overseen marketing and e-commerce for Halifax, HBOS and Travelex currency exchange. He is also a non-executive director for the Goelet family wine business. Hanson said: “I like the values of the company and the fact that it’s a family business means there are more opportunities to live up to those values. This business is very principled, and that is important to me. We have a great business and very strong brands and I look forward to contributing to their continued growth.” Based in Harrogate, Betty’s & Taylors comprises family tea and coffee merchant Taylors of Harrogate, six Betty’s Cafe Tea Rooms, Betty’s Online Shop, Craft Bakery and Betty’s Cookery School.
Sheffield-based micro-brewery agrees £100,000 capital finance deal: Sheffield-based micro-brewery Sentinel Brewing Co has agreed a capital finance deal of £100,000 from lender One Stop Business Finance. The brewery offers food as well as beer at its city centre site in Sheffield, which opened this month, and intends to use the money to bolster short-term cash flow and invest in new facilities. Managing director Alex Barlow told The Business Desk: “As a result, we’ve got our new plant in situ and can look forward to brewing on it very soon.” Andrew Mackenzie, One Stop Business Finance managing director, added: “Alex Barlow, the entrepreneur who is running the business, is of a very high calibre and the business is backed by a number of professionals with a strong track record.”
Chris Cormack steps down from board of West Cornwall Pasty Co: Chris Cormack, investment director at Enact, has stepped down from the board of West Cornwall Pasty Co, two years after he joined in the wake of Enact buying the company out of administration. At the time he joined the board, Cormack said: “This deal marks an exciting new chapter for West Cornwall Pasty Co. The business has struggled to cope with the effects of the pasty tax and a number of underperforming outlets. Fundamentally, West Cornwall Pasty Co is a market-leading brand, loved by millions of customers and we are delighted this transaction takes the brand and business forward whilst preserving more than 200 jobs.” The company reported turnover of £12.5m and Ebitda of £551,000 in the 50 weeks to 27 March 2015, its most recently reported full-year figures. Operating loss for the 50 weeks was £195,129.
Krispy Kreme opens third Leeds venue at White Rose shopping centre: Krispy Kreme has opened a venue at the White Rose shopping centre in Leeds – its third site in the city and fifth in Yorkshire. As well as 16 varieties of doughnuts, the store offers coffee and Kreme Shakes. The doughnuts are delivered each morning from Krispy Kreme’s Hotlight store at Birstall Shopping Park in the city. Krispy Kreme chief marketing officer Judith Denby said: “After the great reception we had at our Leeds Hotlight store opening and our Trinity Leeds store, we are excited about bringing a taste of Krispy Kreme to the White Rose centre, which is a fantastic location.” Krispy Kreme UK entered the market in October 2003 in London and currently operates 65 stores across the UK. Earlier this month, its owners Alcuin Capital Partners said it was eyeing a £100m-plus flotation.
Pret to open tenth UK airport site in Manchester on Friday: Pret A Manger will open its tenth UK airport site at Manchester Airport on Friday (29 April). The company is launching the store in Terminal One, creating 20 jobs. The 80-seat outlet will offer Pret’s new range of fresh spring salads, sandwiches and wraps, as well as breakfast options. Manager of the new outlet Marc Denial told The Business Desk: “Opening our first shop in Manchester Airport is very exciting for us. We already have fantastic shops in many of the UK’s other major airports, and are thrilled to be expanding this offering further.” Ben Green, head of retail – food and beverage at Manchester Airports Group, added: “We are delighted to welcome Pret A Manger to Manchester Airport’s Terminal One. I am sure our 23.5 million annual passengers will welcome the additional choice and quality offering from this well-known brand. Furthermore the addition of this store will add to the passenger experience here at Manchester Airport, where we always put the customer at the centre of everything we do.”
Greggs unveils ‘Balanced Choice’ menu featuring items of 400 calories or fewer: Bakery Greggs has revealed a “Balanced Choice” menu that features items of 400 calories or fewer, which will be available at its stores from Monday (2 May). The comprehensive menu includes sandwiches, salads, soups and some sweet treats, while all items meet amber and green on the Food Standards Agency’s traffic light system for fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar. Items include chargrill chicken oval bite, a 361-calorie sandwich with light honey mustard mayonnaise, tomatoes, cucumber and salad leaves; teriyaki chicken noodle salad, with edamame beans, peppers, peas and rocket (256 calories); spiced beef and rice soup (216 calories); and strawberry and granola yogurt pot (194 calories). The menu also includes a range of low-calorie drinks, including forest fruit juicy water and ginger beer made with real root ginger.
Eddie Rocket’s retains Irish franchisee of the year award: Eddie Rocket’s, which operates 36 sites in Ireland, won two accolades at the Irish Franchise Awards 2016, including retaining the Franchise of the Year (Retail) category. The company also won the Outstanding Growth award at a ceremony at the Radisson St Helen’s Hotel, Dublin. The Irish Franchise Awards – one of the longest-running business award ceremonies in Ireland – is now in its 21st year. More than 28,000 people work in the Irish franchise sector. David Killeen, chairman of the Irish Franchise Association, said: “The awards are an opportunity for us to formally recognise and celebrate the excellent work being done by all franchise operators in growing our sector.” Of Eddie Rocket’s 36-strong portfolio, more than 20 are operated under franchise. It has two formats – 33-strong Eddie Rocket’s is a modern-day interpretation of an American retro-diner experience, while three-strong Rocket’s is a fast-casual premium hamburger restaurant with a fresh, urban edge.
Robinsons – annual trade show was most successful ever: Robinsons Brewery’s annual trade show at St Helens Rugby Football Club was the most successful in company history thanks to a record turnout of licensees, free trade customers and suppliers from across the country. This year’s trade show was headlined by several exclusives for 2016 including Robinsons’ award-winning 9 Hop IPA available in keg for the very first time alongside a new rotational craft keg range that will be available to all Robinsons pubs from June. Robinsons also launched a new utilities partnership that is set to save an average of £2,000 per year. The money-saving scheme has already signed up 40 licensees with the plan to roll the incentive out across all of Robinsons’ pubs over the next 12 months. Martin Webb, national accounts manager for Molson Coors, said: “We go to a lot of trade shows but Robinsons’ was one of the best. It was fantastic to be involved in such a well organised event where all licensees were such a pleasure to meet. We want to pass our sincerest thanks to every member of the Robinsons team who helped put on the show. Their hard work really paid off.”
Savills sells Southampton pub to local who has used it for 30 years: Agent Savills has advised the private vendors on the sale of the Cricketers pub in Carlton Place, Southampton, to private purchaser John Cooney for £600,000. The pub is situated within the popular restaurant and bar area of Bedford Place and Carlton Place, with nearby occupiers including Revolution, 90 Degrees at Carlton and Shrimp & Burger. The two-storey property comprises a U-shaped bar servery with seating for about 40 people and owners’ accommodation on the first floor. The pub also features a rear enclosed garden. Cooney said: “I am delighted to purchase the Cricketers as it has always been a dream of mine to own a pub I have frequented for over 30 years. The pub is one of the most established in the city and we want to continue to provide high-quality beer, food and customer service.” Adam Bullas, director of Licensed Leisure at Savills, added: “The Cricketers is one of the most historic and traditional pubs in Southampton, and its trading performance has always been very consistent which was a credit to the previous owners. We are confident John and his team will continue with this and further develop the quality of the offering.”
Nichols gearing up for relaunch of sugar-free brands this summer: UK drinks distributor and supplier Nichols is gearing up for the relaunch of its sugar-free brands this summer. The company said in a trading update conditions within the UK grocery market remain challenging. However, its UK revenues are benefiting from the acquisition of both The Noisy Drinks Company, of which it bought the remaining equity in January 2016, and the Feel Good brand acquired in July 2015. This year the company has also launched Vimto Remix, adding new flavours to the Vimto range. “As with all of our new product introductions in recent years, Remix is only available in no added sugar options,” it said – a response to chancellor George Osborne’s Budget announcement last month of plans to raise £530m in tax on the sugar content of soft drinks. From April 2018, soft drinks companies will pay a levy on drinks with added sugar. This will apply to drinks with total sugar content above five grams per 100 millilitres, with a higher rate for more than eight grams per 100 millilitres, but it won’t need to be paid on milk-based drinks or fruit juices. The company is preparing for the summer relaunch of its Feel Good brand, a range of premium adult juice drinks that have no added sugar and contain 100% natural ingredients. Nichols said trading for the year so far was as expected and it expects to deliver full-year earnings in line with market expectations.