Hall & Woodhouse reports turnover and profit boost: Dorset brewer and retailer Hall & Woodhouse has reported turnover increased 2.2% to £110,110,000 for the year ending 27 January 2018, compared with £107,713,000 the previous year. Ebitda was down 2% to £14.5m, compared with the year before. Pre-tax profit was up 42.9% to £9,286,000, compared with £6,499,000 the previous year. Exceptional items were in surplus by £3,281,000 due to £3,262,000 gained from the sale of its old brewery site. This was against a loss of £639,000 the year before. In his statement accompanying the accounts, chairman Mark Woodhouse said: “The year has delivered a strong performance from our managed houses and business partnerships, despite challenging market conditions. We have continued to invest heavily behind our brands, our teams and our core offering to ensure the future success of our business. The impact all these factors have had on our underlying business performance is that while turnover has increased 2.2% on the previous year to £110.1m, Ebitda fell 2.0% to £14.5m. Once we look at the exceptional items, which include the sale of the old brewery, our profit has increased year-on-year by 42.9% to £9.3m. This has enabled us to reduce our net debt by £3.7m to £51.5m. The year has also delivered a number of significant events, including the sale of the Old Brewery site, with the funds reinvested in the purchase of The Boathouse in Bath and the opening of Cranberry Farm, just outside Exeter.” Hall & Woodhouse operates more than 200 pubs across the south of England.
Liberation Group appoints Nigel Osborne as chief financial officer:Liberation Group, the West Country and Channel Island pub company, has appointed Nigel Osborne as chief financial officer. Osborne joins the business from school-wear provider Banner, where he was chief financial officer. Starting his career at accountancy firms BDO and Deloitte, Osborne has more than 25 years’ experience in other financial roles and also worked for foodservice wholesaler Rollover and soft drinks brand Bottlegreen. He succeeds Declan Hearne, who has left Liberation Group after ten years as finance director. Liberation Group chief executive Mark Crowther said: “Nigel’s appointment is significant for the business. We believe he will be a real asset for Liberation Group and his previous experience will help enable the board to fulfil its strategic plan for the business.” Osborne added: “The team has built an excellent business and I look forward to bringing my experience in the food and drink sector to the group and helping them push on to the next chapter.”
Marston’s to open 18th Pitcher & Piano site next week, in Sheffield:Marston’s is to open an 18th site for its Pitcher & Piano brand next week, in Sheffield. The company will open the venue on Friday, 19 October following the transformation of a former National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) building in Holly Street. Pitcher & Piano managing director Colin Sadler said: “We are thrilled to be opening our new site in Sheffield. The former NUM building offers a unique character in line with our other beautifully designed bars across the country. Sheffield is a brilliant, vibrant city steeped in culture.”
Mexican chef Santiago Lastra to launch first solo restaurant, in London:Mexican chef Santiago Lastra, who has worked in some of the world’s best restaurants, is set to launch his first solo restaurant, in London. Kol will open in early 2019 with a focus on Mexican influences while “celebrating the finest of British ingredients and craftsmanship”. Meanwhile, Lastra will hold a feasting dinner to celebrate Mexico’s Day of the Dead (31 October) at Refettorio Felix in Earl’s Court, the community kitchen established by Massimo Bottura in 2017. Lastra first came to the attention of the London food scene in 2016 with a residency at Marylebone restaurant Carousel, followed by a pop-up at Tate Modern in 2017. Other kitchens he has worked in include Mugaritz in San Sebastian and Bror in Copenhagen.
The Alchemist launches apprenticeship scheme, donates 11,000 meals to communities: The Alchemist, which is backed by Palatine Private Equity, has launched an apprenticeship scheme. The company has partnered with SMART training and recruitment with an aim to deliver high-quality, government-funded apprenticeship programmes. The Alchemist will offer five commis chef positions. The programme will run for 12 to 18 months, delivered through a combination of on-the-job and one-to-one training. Meanwhile, The Alchemist is also partnering with Foodinate, a charity that works to end food poverty by running a “meal for a meal” initiative. Since joining forces with Foodinate in May, The Alchemist has donated more than 11,000 hot meals to people in need. Managing director Simon Potts said: “People are at our core, which is why we offer extensive training, genuine care and clear progression for everyone who works with us. We are always looking for new ways in which we can give back to our communities and our new apprenticeship scheme will be a fantastic way to support chefs of the future. We’re immensely proud to work alongside the fantastic charitable organisation Foodinate. Our customers have really got behind the initiative and we can already see the difference we are able to make to the local communities – long may it continue.”
Caffe Nero to give away 10,000 coffees to mark loyalty app milestone: Caffe Nero is giving away 10,000 coffees this month to mark ten million stamps awarded to customers through its loyalty payment app. Every customer who pays for a hot drink via the Caffe Nero app between Wednesday (10 October) and Saturday, 20 October will automatically have a chance to win one of 10,000 free drinks. Head of marketing Marcus Denison-Smith said: “Ten million stamps is a major milestone for our business and we’re extremely proud. Since launching the app last year we’ve had more than half a million downloads, with customers earning more than one million free drinks. We wanted to mark the occasion by rewarding our loyal customers the best way we know how – more free coffee on us.” Caffe Nero customers are rewarded with a free drink for every nine stamps they collect.
MeatLiquor opens 12th London site, in Battersea: MeatLiquor has opened its 12th London site, in Battersea. The venue has launched in Northcote Road at a site that formerly housed restaurant Fixed. MeatLiquor co-founder Scott Collins said the company hadn’t been thinking of opening a restaurant in the area but the opportunity had proved “too good to resist”. The site is the smallest in the group’s portfolio, Hot Dinners reports. Collins founded MeatLiquor with Yianni Papoutsis in 2011, initially operating from a burger van. It opened its first permanent site shortly after and there are now 15 sites across the UK with others in Leeds, Brighton and Croydon.
SSP to open 12 food and beverage units at Brussels airport: SSP Group, the operator of food and beverage outlets in travel locations worldwide, has secured a contract with Brussels South Charleroi airport to open 12 units. The offering will be a mix of international brands and concepts created for the airport. The units will be landside and airside, where a third floor is being developed that will accommodate food and drink operators. Starbucks will be the first unit to open, in December, followed by Burger King, Panos and Camden Food. All 12 units are scheduled to begin trading by August 2019. Gérard d’Onofrio, managing director of SSP France and Benelux, said: “This great range of bars and restaurants has been developed in close partnership with the team at the airport.” Jean-Jacques Cloquet, chief executive of Brussels South Charleroi airport, added: “We are delighted to welcome SSP as a new partner. Our innovative new concepts mean we’ll be able to ensure great-quality service and there will be something of appeal for all our passengers.” Last month, SSP Group won an eight-year contract to open ten units at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria airport in Spain.
PizzaExpress reveals plans for restaurant at Leeds’ Merrion Centre: PizzaExpress has revealed plans to open a restaurant at the Merrion Centre in Leeds early next year. The restaurant, which will seat 120 people inside and 36 outside, will open in March, creating 22 jobs. It will be located in the Arena Quarter directly opposite First Direct Arena. PizzaExpress operations manager Ben Hicks said: “We opened our first Leeds restaurant in 1996 and have invested regularly in the city by opening further restaurants. We are thrilled to commit to our latest flagship venue in the Arena Quarter, which further strengthens our long-standing connection with great music.” Helen Green, associate director for Town Centre Securities, which owns the centre, added: “We are excited to announce PizzaExpress is going to be joining our successful, burgeoning Arena Quarter. Our asset team has worked tirelessly to identify new opportunities and the right partners to bring into this area of the city, which has cemented our position as a key leisure destination in Leeds.”
Barrie brothers launch crowdfunding campaign to establish cookery school: Great British Menu finalist Ellis Barrie and his brother Liam, whose company Barrie Bros operates Marram Grass restaurant in Anglesey, have launched a £30,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to launch a cookery school. The space, at the White Lodge campsite on which Marram Grass is based, will act as a hub to develop the Marram Grass team, teach basic skills to budding chefs and offer experiences to guests. The brothers will also hold a series of masterclasses with renowned chefs, while the building will feature recording equipment as the brothers look to build their YouTube channel. Ellis Barrie said: “This is what cooking is all about – learning from and inspiring others.” Liam Barrie added: “Since starting our business three years ago, Barrie Bros, which encompasses the Marram Grass and our bacon and pork business The Fat Pig Co, we’ve built a fan base we’re proud of. We want to use the cookery school to be more interactive and engage with those who have supported us over the years and who want to learn more about what we do. We’re giving those who care about us the chance to get involved in a number of ways and continue to watch us grow.” Last month, it was reported Barrie Bros is set to launch a restaurant in Liverpool’s Royal Albert Dock next year.
Shropshire hotel at centre of legionnaires’ disease outbreak saw sale collapse after second discovery: A Shropshire hotel that went into administration after suffering trading difficulties following an outbreak of legionnaires’ disease in 2017 was set to be sold but the deal collapsed after further traces of the bacteria were discovered, a new report has revealed. A statement of proposal filed at Companies House by administrators Raj Mittal and Steve Stokes, partners at FRP Advisory, showed a deal was agreed for The Feathers Hotel in Ludlow in April this year. The hotel had been put on the market following remedial work carried out on its water system in late 2017 following an outbreak of legionnaires’ disease that led to two casualties, one fatal. However, routine sampling by Public Health England in May found “further traces of legionella”. The report stated: “Following this second legionella outbreak the offer for the hotel was subsequently withdrawn.” The hotel initially remained open after going into administration on 2 August but closed a fortnight later with the loss of 16 jobs. The report showed the company had no secured creditors while there would be “sufficient funds available to make a distribution to unsecured creditors”, whose claims are estimated to total almost £75,000.
Papa John’s franchisee opens third site, in Halesowen: Papa John’s franchisee Daljit Singh has opened a third site, in Halesowen in the West Midlands. Singh, who also operates sites in Crewe and Kidderminster, said: “Before joining Papa John’s in 2015, I ran a number of off-licences. When these were sold I felt it was time to try something different. I’d always been a fan of Papa John’s pizza and knew this would be a good business opportunity. I can work with my family to grow our portfolio of outlets and we intend to open a further Papa John’s by the end of the year.” Papa John’s was founded in the US in 1984 and operates more than 350 stores across the UK and over 5,000 stores in more than 40 international markets and territories.
Lincolnshire holiday park development brought to market: A 22-acre development site in Lincolnshire with outline planning consent for a substantial holiday lodge park has been brought to market, with agent Colliers International inviting “substantial offers” for the freehold. Located on the site of a large residential house with adjoining land, Brackenborough Lawn is off the A16 and is two miles from the market town of Louth. Subject to a Section 106 agreement, the site has planning consent for 137 fixed lodges, cycling paths, and the alteration of the house and outbuildings to create amenity rooms, storage space and a shop. The site currently comprises a five-bedroom manor house with gardens and outbuildings, a four-bedroom gatehouse and a paddock. The site is owned by a private care operator and is adjacent to an additional 14 acres of land that are available to buy subject to a separate negotiation. Colliers International surveyor Robert Smithson said: “With the trend for short-term breaks in rural locations growing ever higher, this site is in an ideal location for development and offers an attractive alternative to the traditional coastal resorts of Skegness, Mablethorpe and Cleethorpes.”
Martini lounge Anthracite to launch in King’s Cross: Martini lounge Anthracite is to open in King’s Cross, London, this autumn. The 90-cover, three-roomed lounge will launch on the first floor of the Great Northern Hotel. Drawing on the hotel’s railway heritage – anthracite was a principal fuel for steam trains – the lounge’s charcoal colour palette will be brought to life with submetallic details and electric blue trims. The walls will feature portraits by Gareth Reid, Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2017, while cocktails and gin and tonic will accompany the wide range of martini-based drinks available. Owner-operator Jeremy Robson said: “Standing at the gateway to the newly regenerated King’s Cross, I wanted to bring something to the area that builds on the Great Northern Hotel’s timeless elegance while offering a darker edge of glamour and subversion.”
Historic east London riverside pub put on market: The historic Town Of Ramsgate pub in Wapping, east London, has gone on the market. Reputedly there has been a pub on the site since the 15th century, although the current grade II-listed building is believed to date to the mid-18th century. The Town Of Ramsgate, which is being marketed by agent Fleurets, features bar and dining areas with about 70 covers, a first-floor trade kitchen and accommodation with four bedrooms. It is also known for its riverside beer garden, with views across to Rotherhithe and Tower Bridge. Simon Bland, of Fleurets, who is marketing the leasehold interest in the property, said: “This famous old waterman’s tavern displays its remarkable history and character internally and externally. Being a successful operation, we anticipate high levels of interest.” The leasehold is being marketed with a guide price of £395,000 plus stock at value.
Oxford-based pizzeria goes mobile to expand offering: Oxford-based, Roman-style pizzeria Buongiorno e Buonasera has widened its offering by launching a customised Piaggio Ape van, which will begin by operating at Bicester Village shopping centre. The company, which expanded into London in March for its third site and first outside Oxford, offers authentic Romana pizza, a lighter alternative to the Neapolitan style and featuring an oval-shaped base. Founder and chief executive Alessandro Bianchetti said: “We are delighted our first mobile offering will be taking up residence in Bicester Village, Oxfordshire, close to where the Buongiorno e Buonasera journey began four years ago.”
Aramark launches campaign to improve mental well-being: Catering company Aramark is reminding people about the importance of minding their mental well-being by launching its Take15 campaign as part of World Mental Health Day. With one in six people experiencing mental health issues in the workplace, the month-long campaign aims to address this by encouraging employers and employees to take short breaks during their working day. The goal is to get people to take time away from computers, phones and emails and reconnect with their colleagues. Evidence has shown connecting with family, friends and colleagues is important to mental well-being. Aramark northern Europe president Frank Gleeson said: “Our mission is to enrich and nourish lives and we understand a healthy workforce is happier and more productive. When employees take breaks at work they become less fatigued and have more energy. Short breaks also increase our ability to focus and problem-solve, reducing stress levels, so it makes sense for everyone to take 15 minutes to relax and clear their head during the day.”
RBH expands overseas chef-training courses: Hotel management company RBH has expanded its overseas chef-training initiative to more UK sites in a bid to tackle the industry’s kitchen skills shortage. In total, 12 students from Gran Canaria and Tenerife in Spain are undertaking six-month work placements at QHotels’ Slaley Hall, Crewe Hall, Dunston Hall and Stratford Manor and newly rebranded DoubleTree by Hilton Stratford-upon-Avon. RBH representatives visited hotel schools in Spain earlier this year to source candidates who will become full-time employees. The students are in their second year of studying kitchen cuisine and are trained to chef de partie level. The partnership with Resort Restaurant and People Partners began last year with QHotels, leading to two students being offered permanent positions. Students undertake a kitchen management or kitchen cuisine course. The management course includes high-volume, banqueting-style catering, while the cuisine course is catering to rosette or Michelin-star standard. RBH Group executive chef Julian Prosser said: “We place the students in our larger properties, where they can gain experience in fine dining, large banquets, conference catering and leisure menus. We’re really proud of this partnership and it’s a key step in our strategy to proactively drive chef recruitment, retention and development across the portfolio.” RBH manages more than 70 branded and private-label hotel properties.
Artisan distiller Exeter Gin launches £100,000 crowdfunding campaign for expansion: Exeter Gin has launched a £100,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to diversify its product range and increase capacity. The company, run by the Skerratt family, is offering 10.0% equity in return for investment with an aim to exit by a trade sale in five to seven years. The pitch states: “We noticed Exeter didn’t have its own city-branded gin. To fill this gap we’ve produced two distinct brands, Exeter Gin and Granny Garbutt’s. Across these brands we have five products. Launched in August 2017, we were advised to expect sales of 500 bottles in our first year. Despite targeting a sales total of 1,000 bottles, demand for our product saw us sell over 4,000 and 4,500 miniatures within ten months. We are stocked in regional Waitrose stores and supply St Austell Brewery and major distributor LWC among others. We have yet to fully tap into growth opportunities via gin tours, our website, international exports and other sales outlets. With larger equipment, we could maximise economies of scale by reducing our overall costs. We feel stock diversification into the seasonal gifting market will provide further growth opportunities and we plan to produce a sloe version of Exeter Gin before Christmas. The artisan gin market is extremely buoyant with record sales results year on year. We are motivated by the residents of Exeter, their pride in the product we’ve produced, and their support of our ambitions to be a leading UK artisan gin producer.”
AB InBev opens greener automated warehouse in Wales ahead of global roll-out: Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) has opened an automated, 80,000 cubic metre warehouse at its largest UK brewery in Magor, South Wales, with capacity for 23 million pints of beer. Robotic cranes operate across six stories and nine miles of racking and can retrieve a stored pallet in less than 60 seconds. AB InBev plans a global roll-out of the warehouse technology in a move to cut 605 tonnes of CO2 by reducing transportation between warehouses. AB InBev brewery manager Lloyd Manship said: “This investment demonstrates our commitment to Wales. It means we can get our beer out and into stores and pubs faster and more efficiently than ever before, that’s ultimately good for us, our customers and the environment.” AB InBev’s 2025 sustainability goals include a 25% cut in carbon emissions across its value chain, while it recently launched an accelerator programme to support startups with ambitions to tackle sustainability challenges including climate change, water scarcity and circular packaging. The Welsh brewery already features a CO2 recovery system and a waste-to-energy power generator.