Aston Manor Brewery ponders £100m sale: Birmingham-based cider-maker Aston Manor Brewery is reviewing options to fund its growth plans, which could include a £100m sale of the business. The company, which produces branded and own-label cider including Kingstone Press and Frosty Jack’s, has appointed financial advisory Lazard to examine its options, The Business Desk reports. The company is owned by former Aston Villa Football Club chairman Sir Doug Ellis and his family. Aston Manor’s most recent accounts, for the year ending 31 December 2015, showed an 11% fall in sales to £108.7m. However, despite the decline in sales, which followed a smaller fall the year before, the company outperformed the sector. The manufacturer has production and packaging facilities in Birmingham and Devon, and orchards in Worcestershire and Herefordshire. It exports to more than 20 countries, including the US, Russia and Africa.
Whitbread boss earns £2.5m: Whitbread chief executive Alison Brittain earned £2,509,000 in her first full year in charge of the company. The total consisted of £792,000 basic salary, benefits worth £22,000, an annual incentive scheme payment of £638,000, a long-term incentive payment of £859,000 and a pension payment of £198,000. Finance director Nicolas Cadbury earned £1,487,000 (2015/16: £1,717,000), while group human relations director Louise Smalley earned £988,000 (2015/16: £1,284,000). The highest earnings achieved by a Whitbread chief executive came in 2013/14, when Andy Harrison earned a total of £6,374,000. Louise Smalley is a non-executive director of DS Smith and retained a fee of £55,233. Brittain is a non-executive director of Marks & Spencer and retained a fee of £70,000. Cadbury was appointed a non-executive director of Land Securities Group on 1 January 2017 and retained a fee of £11,667. In the company’s annual report, chairman of the remuneration committee Deanna Oppenheimer told shareholders: “During consultations, a number of our shareholders stressed the importance of good disclosure and transparency. As a result of the feedback we received we have decided that, wherever possible, we will disclose the incentivised targets. Last year, for the first time, we retrospectively disclosed our profit target and committed to disclose the 2015/16 target in this report. As a result of the shareholder feedback, we have given some thought as to how we can improve the transparency of our targets still further and have now decided to disclose our 2016/17 profit target in addition to the 2015/16 target. We have also included a new table in the section of the report on key performance indicators, which brings greater clarity to the targets set for incentivised measures.”
KFC’s largest UK franchisee secures £20m debt facility: A Suffolk-headquartered business that holds the UK’s largest KFC franchise has undergone a major refinancing programme to support its mergers and acquisitions strategy. The Herbert Group has 119 restaurants across the UK and Ireland and has secured a £20m debt facility from Lloyds Bank. In addition, the bank has provided a £2.5m revolving credit facility to support working capital. “The group remains extremely active in seeking out opportunities to grow and develop our existing store and brand portfolio,” said Jason Carlisle, finance director of The Herbert Group. “To support these plans and with the support of Lloyds Bank we have the funding structure and resources to identify suitable acquisition targets and consolidate our position as the largest KFC franchise in the UK and Ireland.” The Herbert Group can trace its roots 250 years. Sharon Murphy, relationship director at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “The Herbert Group is a long-standing client that has achieved significant scale in recent years as a result of its ambitious management team and targeted growth strategy. Facilitating an expansion plan requires careful financial planning, which is why we work with firms like The Herbert Group to help support their growth as part of our wider commitment to help Britain prosper.”
Living Ventures bids to open Gusto site in Sutton Coldfield: Living Ventures is to open a site for its Gusto brand in Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands. The company has submitted a planning application to open a restaurant and cocktail bar in two vacant units at the Mulberry Walk development in Mere Green, a new collection of shops, cafes and restaurants, the Birmingham Mail reports. Private equity-backed restaurant group Bistrot Pierre and Prezzo already operate venues at the shopping complex. The move follows Living Ventures’ launch of a Gusto site alongside another of its brands, The Alchemist, in Birmingham city centre last year. The company also opened a site in Nottingham in February this year, its first Gusto in the East Midlands. Gusto was launched in 2005 and private investment in 2014 has led to rapid expansion of the brand. It currently operates 18 restaurants across the UK.
Hawthorn Leisure places former Wetherspoon pub on the market: Hawthorn Leisure has put a pub in Kings Lynn, Norfolk, on the market barely a year after buying the site from JD Wetherspoon. Hawthorn Leisure took over The Lattice House in May last year. Hawthorn Leisure said: “The Lattice House pub has been placed on the open market as a going concern and continues to trade as normal until a purchaser steps forward. It’s a great opening as a freehold opportunity for an operator whose portfolio this fits.” Hundreds of people signed a petition calling for the grade II-listed pub to be saved when JD Wetherspoon initially put it on the market in 2015, amid fears it could be demolished. The pub was one of more than 30 put up for sale by the chain at that time. Originally built in the 15th century as a townhouse, the building was first used as an inn in the early 18th century and remained in business for more than 200 years before closing in 1919.
Wimbledon Brewery doubles production capacity: Wimbledon Brewery has doubled production capacity to a “brew a day” following the installation of two 60-barrel fermenters at its premises in south west London. Each fermenter holds the equivalent of 17,000 pints. The move is the second expansion undertaken by the company since its launch in July 2015. Its bottled and canned beers are available in a wide range of London venues and in M&S food stores. Founder Mark Gordon said: “The new fermenters allow us to step up our production to five brews a week, which is needed to meet increased demand from our growing customer base across the UK. We will also have some capacity to test the waters internationally before the year is out.”
Deltic Group starts £300,000 refurbishment of only remaining Oceana nightclub: Deltic Group, the UK’s largest operator of premium late-night bars and clubs, has started a £300,000 refurbishment of the last Oceana nightclub in its estate. Oceana Southampton is undergoing work to create a new dance space entitled The Curve Room, which will play R&B chart hits and feature gold and black decor and five bookable private booths. The club’s main dance room will also have its light and sound system upgraded ahead of the relaunch on Friday, 26 May. Oceana general manager Alex O’Reilly said: “Oceana is a Southampton institution and we continue to be the number-one nightspot in the city. We’re confident Curve will be a big hit with our loyal customers who make this such a great club and they will benefit from the upgraded light and sound technology in the main room.” Deltic Group has converted all its former Oceana nightclubs – in Plymouth, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Kingston, Watford, Leeds and Nottingham – into its Pryzm brand. There were also Oceana venues in Milton Keynes and Swansea that closed.
Jamie Oliver visits Australia to finalise acquisition of business: Chef Jamie Oliver has flown to Australia to finalise the acquisition of his restaurants under franchise that went into administration last year. He told local media: “I’ve basically come over to dot the i’s and cross the t’s on buying back my Australian business, which was a franchise and went into receivership. There was nothing wrong with the JI (Jamie’s Italian) business but it got dragged down with the mother ship. It’s never happened to me before so it’s a bit of new one for me. But the good news is we bought it back and I’m now 100% owner of my (Australian Jamie’s Italian) restaurants, instead of a partner of my restaurants.” Regarding the administration, he said: “I was like OK, why? The business is really good, we are really busy, we get low grumbles, they are all profitable, so why? And then you just realise you are part of a bigger picture and you can’t control it.”
M&B pencils in June reopening of historic Dulwich village pub: Mitchells & Butlers is aiming to reopen the historic Crown and Greyhound pub, which will offer boutique bedrooms, in Dulwich Village on Wednesday 14 June. It originally closed in September 2014 for an anticipated 15 months. It will be managed by Brian Gallagher, who previously managed Waxy O’Connor’s in the West End. The reopened Crown and Greyhound will be part of Mitchells and Butlers’ Castle brand, which it refers to as pubs with a “character to suit its community and an independence that attracts regulars as diverse and discerning as the beers on tap”. Gallagher said: “Old regulars will immediately recognise the pub, which is listed, but a number of improvements have been made to the rear of the Crown and Greyhound during the hotel conversion. It’s a massive pub, especially when you’re standing in the back looking through. The rear garden includes a new canopied outside dining area, barbecue and bar. We’re also planning an area for table tennis.”
Paul hires Pretzel-Shiels as marketing director: French artisan bakery and patisserie Paul, which operates sites in 35 countries, has appointed Kathryn Pretzel-Shiels, marketing director of its UK and US operations. The company said Pretzel-Shiels has a track record of developing multi-cultural teams and encouraging growth, change and transformation through her creative and passionate approach to marketing. During her time with American Express, she earned a reputation for strong customer engagement, service excellence and people development. Jean-Michel Orieux, chief executive of Paul UK, said: “We are delighted to have Kathryn on board. Her extensive experience in the UK, EMEA and US markets is invaluable to the development of our brand. Since Paul launched its first Covent Garden site in 2000, the UK estate has grown to more than 36 sites and Kathryn will be instrumental in our continued expansion across the UK and US.”
Ivy site set for Exeter city centre site: Caprice Holdings, owned by Richard Caring, has lodged plans to open a site for The Ivy in Exeter city centre. The proposals seek to convert a former Waterstones book shop in Cathedral Yard, creating 100 jobs. A restaurant is proposed for part of the ground floor of the site, with offices on the upper floors converted to provide a kitchen on the second floor and staff facilities on the third. The Ivy originally intended to occupy the full unit, with dual frontage on to Cathedral Yard and High Street. However, this was deemed unacceptable following pre-application discussions with Exeter City Council. As a result, consent is being sought for half the unit with access from Cathedral Yard, Insider Media reports. The Ivy brand is expanding across the south west, with last year’s launch of The Ivy Clifton Brasserie in Bristol seeing the brand’s first venue outside London. Another site is set to open in Bath this year, while there are also openings in the pipeline in Cobham, Guildford, Marlow, and London’s Broad Street and Tower Bridge.
Gunpowder team launches Himalayan concept in Spitalfields: Harneet and Devina Baweja, the restaurateurs behind home-style Indian kitchen Gunpowder in Spitalfields, have launched a Himalayan concept nearby. They have teamed up with head chef Nirmal Save to open Madame D’s above the Charles King Harman-owned Spirit of 76 pub and cocktail bar in Commercial Street. The new restaurant features a menu influenced by Indian, Nepalese, Tibetan and Chinese cuisine. The short menu of sharing dishes includes gold coin dumplings, pan-fried Tibetan duck, and garlic coriander steamed chicken. The dining den seats 25 people on long wooden benches at trestle tables, giving a communal feel. Harneet Baweja said: “I first discovered Himalayan food when visiting family in north east India. It was unlike anything I’d eaten before and on a recent trip back to the region, Nirmal and I realised we couldn’t return to London and face daily life without those intoxicating flavours!”
Agent Provocateur co-founder to sell freehold of Ramsgate site: Joe Corré, co-founder of Agent Provocateur and son of Dame Vivien Westwood, is selling his licensed site at 40 King Street in Ramsgate, Kent. The British businessman purchased the property’s freehold three years ago to redevelop the site and play his part in the continued development of the King Street area of the town. After a complete refurbishment, the premises now benefits from a fully functioning licensed trade area and kitchen, with a smart and spacious self-contained flat above. With the project complete, Corré has instructed agent Fleurets to market the freehold, which is available off a guide price of £350,000. He said he hoped whoever acquired the property would have the same community focus aligned with his intentions. The property is also allegedly the work of renowned English architect Augustus Pugin, noted for Palace of Westminster interiors. Simon Bland, from Fleurets said: “The property has undergone a spectacular transformation and is a tremendous opportunity to live and trade in the heart of Ramsgate. We are seeing heightened interest across Thanet, with numerous new and interesting businesses popping up. The Ramsgate Music Hall is close by and I look forward to someone buying this and doing something exciting with it. As well as the two-bedroom private living accommodation, the property is fully fitted and ready to trade.”
Sourced Market opens fourth site, in Barbican: Sourced Market, which raised £960,000 in a crowdfunding campaign in 2015 for expansion, has opened its fourth site, in Barbican. The company, led by Ben O’Brien and Dan O’Neill, has opened the venue in Goswell Road inside the Citadines Barbican London hotel. The restaurant has seating for 20 inside with room for another 15 outside, reports Hot Dinners. Sourced Market launched in St Pancras International station in 2009 followed by sites in Marylebone and Victoria, which both opened last year.
Former Mothership Group creative director launches first pub: Heather Pistor, former creative director of bar and events company Mothership Group, has opened her first pub. Pistor and husband Ben, a DJ and club promoter, acquired the lease of The West Hill Tavern in Brighton, which is owned by NewRiver. The pub in Buckingham Place has undergone a £50,000 refurbishment and features fresh decor with silent movies projected on the walls and Radio 4 playing in the toilets. The West Hill Tavern showcases craft beer, conditioned cask ale and kegged beer from the Society of Independent Brewers portfolio, creating a 70/30 split with food sales. The menu features slow-cooked British meat and a simple dessert offering. Ben Pistor said: “When we took on the pub earlier in the year, it was in need of investment and refurbishment and we are really pleased to see all our hard work pay off. David Shipton, NewRiver asset development director – pub division, added: “The £50,000 investment to refurbish The West Hill was just the start of our commitment to helping the couple develop a successful and sustainable business. Our team of pub portfolio experts look forward to working closely with the couple to ensure continued success in the future.”
New chai and coffee concept Pamban to launch in Camden Market next month: New all-day chai and coffee house concept Pamban is to launch in Camden Market next month. The 1,000 square foot site will have 37 covers, with a further eight outside, and offer snacks alongside chai and coffee-based drinks from artisan suppliers in the UK, Sri Lanka and India. The listed former stables will feature wooden floors and high ceilings with tables for small groups and a communal table for larger parties. A key element will be the chai counter, where customers can watch chai being brewed. There will also be a selection of chai and coffee-related equipment for sale alongside hand-made chai cups, seasonal house espresso blend Adda and tea. Pamban is named after an island between India and Sri Lanka and represents the ethnic origins of the duo behind the venture, former McKinsey & Co strategy analyst Mayhul Gondhea and Aruna Sellahewa, who has a background in Asset Management.
French restaurateur opens second Southwark site: Hervé Durochat, who operates all-day French bistro Casse-Croute in Southwark, has opened a sister site in the London borough. French cafe Pique-Nique has opened in Tanner Street offering breakfast and brunch daily, Hot Dinners reports. The menu at the 40-cover venue revolves around the rotisserie, with poulet de bresse as the centrepiece alongside a wide range of meat dishes. Durochat will run the floor with sommelier Alex Bonnefoy.
Rhythm Kitchen reopens at Westfield Stratford with ‘fresh taste of the Caribbean’: Rhythm Kitchen has reopened at Westfield Stratford shopping centre in east London with a fresh look and menu. Delroy Dixon launched Rhythm Kitchen in 2011, offering authentic Caribbean food focusing on jerk and homemade marinades. New dishes on the menu include pepper prawns (shell-on prawns in homemade spicy pepper sauce) and jerk salmon served with coconut couscous. Rhythm Kitchen favourites such as curry goat, saltfish fritters and lamb roti remain on the menu. Dixon said: “This refresh reflects the way we feel about our cooking and how it relates to British Caribbean heritage. We’ve taken the traditions of great food and hospitality and brought them up to date. We are incredibly proud of all the work that has gone into it and thrilled to be serving fine jerk to the people of Stratford again.”
Stonegate Pub Company signs sports marketing partnership with MatchPint: Stonegate Pub Company has signed a partnership agreement with sports pub app MatchPint to provide sports planning support, consumer marketing and promotional activity with suppliers up to the World Cup in Russia in July 2018. Stonegate Pub Company’s drinks partners will use the app to drive footfall and rate of sale through mobile voucher promotions, ticket giveaways, and targeted messaging to users based on their favourite pubs, sports and teams. The agreement covers all 425 Stonegate sports sites, including Walkabout, and follows a six-month trial that compared like-for-like sales that showed during big games, venues with MatchPint outperformed those without by 5%. MatchPint said the app was also driving new footfall, with 24% of customers checking into Stonegate venues via the app stating this was their first visit. Stonegate Pub Company marketing director Nicola Pryce said: “We have always had a strong core sports offer. With MatchPint we are broadening that offer to more diverse sports, engaging new customers through mobile marketing and offering them a great experience when they’re here.” MatchPint co-founder Dom Collingwood added: “Our work with Stonegate is open, creative, and collaborative. Great ideas, best practices, key learnings – they’re all shared both ways.”
Drinks distributor Cellar Trends signs partnership with SPI Global: Drinks distributor Cellar Trends has received strategic investment from SPI Global’s Baltic business arm, the Amber Beverage Group. Cellar Trends majority shareholders, the Watts and Marriott families, will retain management and operational control under the deal. Martin Watts and David Marriott, joint managing directors, said: “This partnership will give us access to other product areas and strengthen our portfolio and teams. Both companies share similar values and believe in working closely with brand owners, building brands in the UK to mutual advantage.” Amber Beverage Group chief executive Seymour Paul Ferreira added: “Cellar Trends has extensive expertise, experience and knowledge, developed over many years, creating markets for many iconic and well-known brands. By joining forces and experience, we look forward to bringing new, exciting experiences to the UK and, over time, strengthening our market presence”. Cellar Trends’ portfolio includes Luxardo Sambuca and Faustino.