Las Iguanas to restructure senior management team as chief financial officer steps down: Casual Dining Group brand Las Iguanas is to restructure its senior management team as it prepares for major expansion after revealing chief financial officer Kieron Pollock is to step down. Pollock is leaving after eight years in the role to pursue new opportunities and as a result Casual Dining Group will recruit both a chief operating officer and finance director as it seeks to launch approximately 20 Las Iguanas venues a year for the next two years. Pollock, whose role also included board responsibility for marketing, training and menu development functions, will remain with the business until June to oversee the conclusion of the integration programme with Casual Dining Group and conduct a handover to his successor. Pollock was part of a senior management team that has grown the Latin American bar-restaurant concept from 16 locations to 48. Las Iguanas managing director Mos Shamel said: “Kieron has played an integral part in the success and growth of Las Iguanas. He was also instrumental in the successful acquisition by Casual Dining Group and subsequent integration. Now that this work is complete, he has decided to begin a new chapter and we wish him well.” Once appointed, both the new chief operating officer and the finance director will report to Shamel. Casual Dining Group chief executive Steve Richards said: “I would like to place on record our thanks to Kieron for his excellent service and contribution, notably the successful merging of Las Iguanas with Casual Dining Group. He leaves the business in great shape.”


D&D London turns spotlight on role of women in hospitality industry: Restaurant operator D&D London has launched a series of YouTube videos exploring the role and experiences of women in the hospitality industry to coincide with International Women’s Day (Tuesday, 8 March). The five videos feature some of the industry’s key female figures tackling questions on the role and experience of women working in different sectors of the industry. The women shared their thoughts and experiences, ranging from the outdated perception that the hospitality industry is a boy’s club to the challenges of motherhood and maternity leave. Natalia Ribbe, founder of the Eighty Six List, led the panel, which included Pidgin head chef Elizabeth Allen, Pho head of marketing and PR Libby Andrews, Rosie Mira of Hawksmoor Group, Freddie Janssen, of Lyle’s restaurant, senior manager at Spring Grace Welch, and D&D London’s Liene Alekse-Lielpinka and Guia Sciortino. A D&D London spokeswoman said: “With the dwindling numbers of female chefs a recurrent news story and at a time in which equality for women in the workplace is a central concern, D&D’s contribution to this year’s International Women’s Day provides an insightful and thought-provoking look at the hospitality industry from the perspective of women on the inside.”


Starbucks named one of world’s most ethical companies for tenth year running: Starbucks has been named one of the world’s most ethical companies for the tenth year in a row. The Ethisphere Institute, which defines standards of ethical business practices, evaluates companies based on the following categories: reputation, leadership and innovation, ethics and compliance programme, governance, corporate citizenship and responsibility, and culture of ethics. Only 130 companies were chosen from thousands of nominations worldwide, and Starbucks is one of only 14 companies to have earned the honour all ten years Ethisphere has published its rankings. Starbucks senior vice-president, deputy general counsel and chief ethics and compliance officer Matthew Swaya said: “While our mission and values provide the guardrails by which we act, it is up to each of us to do our part to maintain a great work environment and to lead with ethics and integrity.”


PizzaExpress reports 15.9% turnover increase and like-for-likes up 0.5% in half one: PizzaExpress has reported a 15.9% increase in turnover while like-for-like sales across its UK and Ireland stores were up 0.5% for the 28 weeks ended 10 January 2016. The company saw turnover of £267.2m (half one 2014/15: £230.6m) with Ebitda 3.0% ahead of last year at £56.4m (half one 2014/15: £54.7m). It continued to grow its estate with 13 new site openings in the UK and 12 internationally. The company also reported strong growth of its PizzaExpress Delivered concept since its launch in September, paving the way for a national roll-out programme. Its first standalone site in Exeter opened on Monday (7 March). PizzaExpress said the initial performance of its new chicken restaurant Reys in Cambridge was “encouraging” and customer feedback had been “very positive”. PizzaExpress chief executive Richard Hodgson said: “Despite a more challenging market backdrop, PizzaExpress has performed well in the first half of the year and the developments in our new delivery offer and the initial success of Reys have been particularly exciting. Overall in the first half, I am pleased to report that group turnover grew to £267.2m and Ebitda to £56.4m. In the UK and Ireland, like-for-like sales increased 0.5% and we have successfully opened 13 new restaurants in the first half. Our performance outside London was broad based across the UK and continued to be driven by an increase in number of covers. Customer-led innovation is a core part of our business as we wish to inspire customers with exciting new dishes. Our seasonal autumn menu was well received, as was our introduction of Christmas specials, including the much talked-about Brussels sprout pizza. Our retail business continued to trade well, with pizzas and bread continuing to grow ahead of the market in both volume and value. PizzaExpress Delivered, which we have trialled in two London sites since September last year, has seen encouraging growth which has paved the way for a national roll-out programme. In addition, I am excited to say that we have acquired Firezza, a leading gourmet pizza delivery company with 17 sites across London. Our new chicken restaurant, Reys, successfully opened in Cambridge in October 2015 and has been performing well. Response from customers has also been extremely positive. Internationally, I am pleased to say we have opened a further 12 sites. The development of our international business remains a key part of our long-term strategy and we have invested in building a strong foundation for the future, following last year’s acquisitions of the previously franchised businesses in China and the UAE.”


BrewDog ends development fund citing corporate takeovers of craft beer breweries: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is ending its development fund, citing increasing corporate takeovers of craft beer breweries, which counter “everything craft beer stands for”. The company launched the BrewDog Development Fund in 2014 to allocate up to £100,000 of profits each year to help other craft breweries start up and become established. However, BrewDog said recent corporate takeovers and buyouts had “detracted from our good intentions”, adding it had returned its stakes at cost price to the first two official partners of the fund – Brew by Numbers and CAP – but would continue to stock their beers. The company stated: “These aggressive, lowest-common-denominator acquisitions are still very much on the radar, and we firmly believe that the idea of breweries having stakes in other breweries isn’t cool. So we have brought the BrewDog Development Fund to a close. We introduced the fund with the idea of helping those starting out or to give craft breweries wanting to reach that next level the support they needed to hopefully make it. We partnered with two fantastic producers – London’s Brew by Numbers (BBNo) and Stockholm-based CAP. But those recent corporate takeovers and buyouts have detracted from our good intentions. Despite being significantly smaller in scale – and with intentions diametrically opposite – to recent ‘investments’ made in Ballast Point, Camden Town, Meantime, Elysian and others, when one brewery has a stake in another it can’t help but compromise the smaller of the two parties. We wanted (and still want) nothing but the best for BBNo and CAP, but the principle still applies. So we have returned our stakes to the owners of these breweries, at cost price. We will continue to support them, and other outstanding craft breweries, by proudly stocking their beers and serving them in our bars, collaborating on cool brewing projects, and offering help and advice should it ever be asked of us. But we are going to do all of this by supporting their independence above all else.”


Michelin-starred Lima launches Peruvian delicatessen in Harrods Food Hall: The owners of Michelin-starred restaurants Lima Fitzrovia and Lima Floral have launched a Peruvian delicatessen in Harrods Food Hall. The menu, curated exclusively for Harrods, offers a variety of Peruvian dishes, including salmon and seabream ceviche, potatoes huancaina, beef or chicken empanadas, and anticuchos, a street-food dish. The range incorporates traditional and contemporary Peruvian cooking. Gabriel Gonzalez, co-founder and managing director of Lima Fitzrovia and Lima Floral, said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with Harrods and honoured to be present in such an iconic institution. It is a great opportunity for us to showcase our food and passion for gastronomy, adapted to a retail format.” Bruce Langlands, Harrods director of food and restaurants, said: “We are extremely excited to be welcoming Lima to the Harrods Food Hall, a fantastic addition to the diverse food scene within the store. As a market leader in food trends, offering our loyal customers the best and latest in food is at the forefront of our brand values and Lima brings something extremely innovative to the current offering; the cuisine is unique and exceptionally well executed.”


Patisserie Valerie opens tenth Scottish site at Glasgow Fort: Patisserie Valerie, the company that has sector investor Luke Johnson as executive chairman, has opened a new site at the Glasgow Fort shopping centre. The new outlet is based in the central area of the complex, near the Game computer store, and is its tenth venue in Scotland. Chief executive Paul May said: “We’re excited to announce the opening of a new Patisserie Valerie store within Glasgow Fort, a great location for the brand. This new store now brings us to ten stores within Scotland, and we hope this can continue to grow in the future. We hope our customers like the new store as much as we do.” Glasgow Fort centre manager Phil Goodman added: “We are delighted to welcome Patisserie Valerie to Glasgow Fort. It will be a fantastic addition to our offering and we are confident it will be popular with our customers.” Patisserie Valerie, launched in 1926 in Soho, London, by Belgian-born Madame Valerie, has 110 sites throughout the UK.


TGI Friday’s launches new menu featuring 30oz Tomahawk steak: TGI Friday’s has launched a new menu, which includes its largest-ever steak – a 30oz Tomahawk rib eye. The menu, devised by company head chef Terry McDowell, has seen the Friday’s ribs given a shake-up. In addition to tender, slow-marinated baby back ribs, Friday’s has, for the first time, introduced cola-glazed beef short ribs. The Jack Daniel’s glaze range has been expanded with the introduction of Jack Daniel’s crispy duck fajitas and Friday’s first Jack Daniel’s vegetarian dish – sesame mushroom strips. The pulled pork sundae is an appetiser with a difference – served in a glass usually reserved for desserts, it features barbecue pulled pork, bacon and melted cheese between layers of mashed potato. There is also the scorpion chicken sandwich, which features grilled chicken coated in spicy scorpion hot sauce and topped with chili, bacon, cheese, tomato and red onion, served in a glazed brioche bun with crispy fries or house salad on the side. The new burgers are The Chief featuring a 7oz burger, chargrilled chicken breast coated in scorpion hot sauce, bacon, jalapenos, cheese and chili mayo. There’s also the green chilli cheeseburger with chargrilled hot chilies, jalapenos and chilli mayo. McDowell said: “I took inspiration from food from right across the globe, as well as exploring sweet, hot and smoky trends, bringing the best flavour sensations I could find back to Friday’s to include on the new menu to really wow guests that come through our doors.”


Costa rolls out Chop’d partnership across 12 more London stores: Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee will expand its offering with premium salad operator Chop’d to a further 12 London stores following a trial launched in six sites last summer. The roll-out will lead to the fresh food company’s jerk chicken, tuna niçoise, feta and lentil, Parma ham and mozzarella, and falafel and hummus salads going on sale at selected stores this week. The partnership is the first time Costa has collaborated with another food and drink brand. Caroline Harris, Costa UK and Ireland marketing director, said: “Customers responded positively to the partnership and love the new variety of salads on offer. Costa is committed to serving healthy food options and the Chop’d partnership demonstrates how our customers are at the heart of every decision we make.” Eddie Holmes, Chop’d managing director, added: “We are delighted to have been hand-picked by Costa to be their salad partner. It really is a great fit due to our joint passion for using the best ingredients, delighting our customers and, of course, both being born and bred in London.” Following the roll-out, Chop’d salads will be available at Costa sites in Argyll Street, Baker Street, Brixton Road, Cabot Place, Conley Fields Shopping Park, Cowcross Street, Culver Square, Curzon Street, Darent Valley Hospital, Eastcastle Street, Eldon Street, Great Marlborough Street, Great Portland Street, Lower Regent Street, Moorfields Eye Hospital, Piccadilly, St Pancras Station, and Westfield (Stratford).


SSP America awarded two food and beverage packages at Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport: SSP America, a division of UK transport hub foodservice specialist SSP, has been awarded two food and beverage packages at Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport by the Metropolitan Airports Commission. SSP will develop and operate four units with contracts spanning eight years for its quick-service restaurant wins and nine years for full-service. Its winning packages include three locally owned brands – the Republic pub serving locally crafted beer and food grown by regional farmers, LoLo America Kitchen, a bar concept focusing on craft cocktails and craft beer, and Black Sheep Pizza. It will also operate an SSP brand tailored for the Twin Cities location – healthy eating concept Camden Food Co. The new outlets will open throughout 2016. SSP America president and chief executive Michael Svagdis said: “The experience reflects the uniqueness of the Twin Cities, their renowned Midwestern hospitality, and diverse local food culture that celebrates the region’s bountiful farmland.” Minneapolis-St Paul International handles more than 36 million passengers per year.