Story of the Day:

Punch reports average profit per pub up 4%

duncangarroodPunch has reported that average profit per pub rose by circa 4% in its 52 week financial year that ended on 20 August 2016 and expects to issue its full year results for the same period on 8 November 2016. Its core estate saw like-for-like net income growth of 1%. A total of 177 pubs have been identified to operate under the Retail contract, with 97 pubs trading or in progress of conversion at 20 August 2016. Its pub roll-out plans has accelerated to circa 150 pubs per year (up from previous guidance of 100-120 pubs per year). Nominal net debt has been reduced by approximately £225 million (16% reduction in the year) and nominal net debt to Ebitda leverage reduced to circa 6.6 times (August 2015: 7.2 times). Its property estate has been externally valued by GVA at circa £2,030 million, circa £850 million in excess of nominal net debt. The 2016 property valuation represents a net uplift of approximately £40 million on the prior year valuation, after accounting for pub disposals. Net nominal debt to property valuation has reduced to 58% (August 2015: 64%). Its strategic disposal programme is now complete, having delivered ahead of expectations. Duncan Garrood, chief executive of Punch Taverns, said: “The business has ended the year with a solid set of results, in line with our expectations, and which reflects the completion of our strategic disposal programme. The roll-out of our retail division is progressing well and we now plan to accelerate the roll-out to c.150 pubs per year. I look forward to updating the market fully when we present our full set of results on 8 November.”

Be At One eyes £60m sale

Cocktail bar brand Be At One is eyeing a sale of the company. The owners, who are backed by private equity firm Piper, have been talking to bankers about a sale of the company, which is valued between £50m and £60m. Zolfo Cooper, a division of Alix Partners, is thought to be working with the chain, reports The Sunday Times. Be At One, which was founded by Steve Locke, Leigh Miller and Rhys Oldfield in 1998, offers a range of more than 150 cocktails at its bars. It aims to ensure customers are met with eye contact by a bartender within five seconds, drinks are made in one minute, and change for payment is given in 30 seconds. The company is due to open its 33rd site next month, in Nottingham having launched in Battersea, south London. Piper paid £8m for a stake in 2011.

Other News:

CAU managing director Graham Hall has departed the casual dining brand as parent company Gaucho Group restructures the business. Hall, who has been managing director for the past three-and-a-half years will be succeeded by Richard Clark, currently CAU operations director. Gaucho Group chief executive Zeev Godik said: “We have taken this opportunity to restructure the group in order to ensure Gaucho and CAU are in the best possible position for both brands to grow and develop successfully and I am delighted to say that Tracey Matthews, currently managing director at Gaucho, will have an immediate and expanded role as chief operating officer, embracing both the Gaucho and CAU brands. We have also widened Suresh Banarse’s role to make him global HR director across the two brands, and we will shortly be confirming a new managing director for Gaucho.” Earlier this year, Sector investor Luke Johnson took a significant minority stake in Gaucho on a personal basis rather than through his Risk Capital Partners vehicle. The company, which was acquired by private equity firm Equistone for circa £100m at the start of this year, currently has 21 CAU sites as well as 15 Gaucho sites. It also operates the brand in Dubai, Hong Kong and Buenos Aires.

Restaurant Brands has signed a franchise deal to launch Tim Hortons coffee and doughnut shops in the UK as part of its expansion plans. The move into Europe comes after Tim Hortons, which has outlets in Canada, the US and the Middle East, said last month that it would enter Asia by opening its first outlet in the Philippines. Restaurant Brands, which also owns the Burger King chain of restaurants, said it has formed a master franchise joint venture with an investor, which it did not name, in Britain The joint venture will operate a franchise of Tim Hortons stores in England, Scotland and Wales, Restaurant Brands said. The company did not say when it would open its stores in the region or how many stores it planned to open. Restaurant Brands chief executive Daniel Schwartz told Reuters: “Great Britain is an attractive quick-service restaurant market with a strong and growing coffee culture so it is a natural fit for the brand.” Tim Hortons was founded in 1964 and has more than 4,400 restaurants that serve items such as paninis, sandwiches, baked goods and soups, besides coffee and doughnuts.

Ratings agency Moody’s has increased its rating of Wagamama bonds to positive from stable thanks to its outperformance of peers. Emmanuel Savoye, of Moody’s, said: “We have changed our outlook on Wagamama to positive to reflect the company’s improved leverage resulting from strong top line growth and improved Ebitda generation over the past 24 months. We also expect it to keep reducing its leverage in the next 12 to 18 months. Despite the UK’s increasingly competitive casual dining market, Wagamama has outperformed its peers by delivering double digit percentage like-for-like sales growth in the past two financial years and in the past four quarters. It also continues to expand organically through the opening of new restaurants in the UK and internationally.” Previously, Propel has reported Wagamama saw 16.2% like-for-like growth in the fourth quarter of its latest financial year to 24 April. Moody’s said it viewed positively: 1) the track record of consistent revenue and Ebitda growth at Wagamama, 2) the management team’s success in rolling out new restaurants in the UK and to a lesser extend internationally, as well as 3) the strong brand recognition and the concept differentiation offered by Wagamama as the only major pan-Asian player in the UK. As of 24 April 2016 (FYE 2016), UK like-for-like sales increased by 13.1% compared with FYE April 2015 and Ebitda after leases and pre-opening costs increased by 23.5% to £35.7m, which is ahead of the original business plan and higher than previous Moody’s expectations. Over the same period, Moody’s adjusted debt-to-Ebitda decreased significantly to 5.3 times from 6.7 times and the Moody’s adjusted Ebita interest coverage improved to 1.6 times from 1.1 times, reflecting the high coupon of 7.8% on the outstanding debt. Moody’s added: “The casual dining market remains highly competitive in the UK. After a good performance in the first three quarters of 2015, the market has slowed down in late 2015 and into 2016 in terms of like-for-like sales. Although underlying positive fundamentals remain for the sector, there are also a number of challenges in Moody’s view, including 1) increased competition due to continued new restaurant openings which makes it more difficult to achieve positive like-for-like sales, 2) the recent outcome of the UK referendum to leave the European Union which may lead to a period of economic uncertainty and a possible decrease in consumer confidence, and 3) pressure on margins due to the planned increases of the minimum National Living Wage introduced in April 2016. Against these challenges, Wagamama continued to achieve double digit like-for-like sales growth in each of the last four quarters, and preliminary figures indicate a continued strong performance in quarter one 2016/2017 including during the period immediately following the Brexit vote. In Moody’s view, this demonstrates the quality and strength of the brand as the only player of scale offering pan-Asian cuisine in the UK. In addition, the company has implemented cost saving measures to partially offset the minimum National Living Wage increase, such as optimising procurement and a more efficient use of the workforce. Moody’s notes though that the development on consumer confidence post Brexit are yet to be tested and that the planned future increase in minimum National Living Wage may have a negative impact on Ebitda margin. Other sources of margin pressure could arise in the market, such as an increasing use of external parties to expand in the delivery sector and a potential food cost inflation over time due to a weaker currency. However, in Moody’s view, the growth of the delivery segment will also enable to expand revenues, while food cost inflation is expected to be mitigated by the long-term contracts generally in place on food sourced from abroad and from the efforts taken to find alternative local suppliers. With revenues of £229.9m, or less than half the revenues of the top players in the UK casual dining market such as PizzaExpress and Nando’s, Wagamama remains a small player with a strong niche position and as such the company’s cash flow generation is more exposed to the underperformance of individual restaurants or the strength of its only brand and cuisine offering. At the same time Moody’s recognises that the continued growth of Wagamama in recent years has enabled it to reach a size where it can take more advantage of economies of scale, as evidenced by the opening of a new central kitchen in 2015, and the centralisation of the production of sauces and other key ingredients for all of Wagamama’s UK restaurants. Moody’s also notes the improving geographic diversification along with the expansion outside the UK. As of July 2016, the company has 38 restaurants across 15 countries. We expect the company to continue the roll-out of new restaurants in the UK as well as internationally and to use internally generated cash flows to finance the investments required. As a result, we do not expect any meaningful free cash flow generation in the next 12 months while recognising that a large portion of the expected capex is discretionary. In light of the bullet maturities of the outstanding notes, we expect deleveraging to be driven by Ebitda growth and we currently assume that Moody’s adjusted debt-to-Ebitda will reduce slightly below 5.0 times in the next 12 months. The company’s liquidity remains adequate, including about £35.5m cash on balance sheet as of FYE 2016 and a fully undrawn £15m super senior revolving credit facility maturing in 2019. There is no scheduled debt amortisation until the bond maturity in 2020 and ample headroom under the minimum Ebitda covenant.”

The owners of Hollywood Bowl Group have revived plans for a £280m stock market float of the country’s largest ten-pin bowling operator, which was pulled earlier this year because of the uncertainty caused by the Brexit referendum. It is understood marketing materials for a share sale were sent to fund managers last week, ahead of an initial public offering (IPO) that has been pencilled in for the second half of September. Electra, the private equity firm that owns Hollywood Bowl, and investment bankers at Investec are still targeting a market valuation of about £280m. The float of the company, which has 54 sites around the country, was among the deals that became a casualty of Britain’s vote in June to leave the European Union, which took financial markets by surprise. Electra and Investec took the bold decision to unveil the share sale in the week before the referendum. They had hoped that the lull in deals in the run-up to the vote would mean it would be one of the few floats in front of fund managers and would raise interest. However, the referendum result, which had not been anticipated by many in the City, led to a bout of stock market volatility that forced Electra and Investec to postpone the IPO. Now that the summer, traditionally a quiet time for floats, is drawing to a close, a number of companies are eyeing share sales alongside Hollywood Bowl. This includes private equity firm Alcuin Capital Partners, which is readying doughnut business Krispy Kreme UK for a float that is likely to take place in October. That IPO, which was first unveiled in March, is also being handled by Investec. An IPO of Hollywood Bowl would result in Electra slashing its 85% stake in the leisure company. The private equity firm bought the business in 2014, when it was called The Original Bowling Company, and last year combined it with smaller rival Bowlplex. In the 12 months to September 2015, it generated pre-tax profits of £20.6m on revenues of £86m under chief executive Steve Burns.

Artisan fresh food and coffee brand Soho Coffee Co has acquired Euphorium Bakery’s five high street stores from Tesco, while Samworth Brothers, a long-term supplier partner of the retail giant, has acquired Euphorium’s Weybridge factory. Soho Coffee will continue to operate the stores under the Euphorium brand. The sale comes only a year after Tesco took full ownership of the business. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed. Following the deal, Tesco will take back ownership of the 57 in-store bakery concessions and smaller sites inside its Express stores, which were previously run by Euphorium. All staff will be transferred back to Tesco, but it is understood “a small number” of managerial roles have been put at risk, Retail Week reports. Tesco is set to launch a consultation in the coming days but it is thought it will seek to redeploy staff in other areas of the business, rather than make redundancies. The move comes as Tesco pilots a new bakery format in some of its stores. A Tesco spokesman said: “We know how important a great bakery offer is to our customers, and this agreement will mean we can continue to serve shoppers with great-quality Tesco bakery products.” Britain’s biggest retailer is focusing on its core supermarket operations as chief executive Dave Lewis continues his bid to turn the business around. Tesco has sold two of its biggest overseas businesses, Homeplus in Korea and Kipa in Turkey since Lewis took the helm almost two years ago. It has also disposed of Dobbies Garden Centres, restaurant chain Giraffe and the Harris + Hoole coffee shop chain, while it also shuttered its NutriCentre health and wellbeing business as it increases its focus on rejuvenating the fortunes within the fiercely contested grocery market. Euphorium Bakery was founded in 1999 by Danny Bear in Islington, London. Tesco took a stake in the business in 2012, before taking full ownership of the chain in April 2015.

Havisham Group, a privately-owned investment fund founded in 2013 by David Brownlow, has invested £6m of committed equity capital and institutional leverage in fledgling pubco Rarebreed Dining to fund its acquisition of a second site and expansion plans. Surrey-based Rarebreed Dining was founded a year ago by four friends who, tired of repetitive pub menus, opened their first site – The Plough Inn in Cobham – offering steaks, grilled and barbecue dishes, Sunday roasts, and bowls using fresh British produce and seasonal ingredients. The new investment has allowed Rarebreed to acquire its second site – The Shurlock Inn in Shurlock Row, Berkshire. The picturesque freehold pub will be redeveloped in the coming months, while the group is looking to acquire four to five new freehold and leasehold venues in the next three years in London and the south east. A Rarebreed Dining spokesman said: “(Our) passion for creating exceptional fresh dishes and cocktails, championing great British produce and relaxed modern environments has been making waves. We believe in nurturing our team’s passion and cherishing our sites to develop each of them individually into special and unique destinations.”

The Restaurant Group – reinvigorating Frankie & Benny’s, learning from its mistakes, strategic review update: Following today’s (Friday, 26 August) first-half results, The Restaurant Group chairman Debbie Hewitt outlines the company’s plans for reinvigorating Frankie & Benny’s, learning from its past mistakes, and the next part of its strategic review.

Overall trading:
Hewitt said trading was in line with guidance and had improved slightly in recent weeks with like-for-like sales for the 34 weeks to 21 August down 3.7%. She said: “Although the leisure division continues to face a difficult trading period, our pubs and concessions are doing well. We have a new executive team in place. We have decided to close 33 sites and impair a further 29. I think when you are running a business day to day it’s easy to assume competition is causing the problem. What has happened here is a business that has been run very instinctively. Our review though has allowed us to drive down in a data-driven way where we have lost our customer focus. What our competition has done is provide a much better value offer. We compete for every pound that is spent on eating out. I can’t control the market but the things we are in control of ­I am very confident about. Having the right focus and the right team puts big ticks in the box.”

Strategic review update:
Hewitt said the company would now apply many of the findings from its review of Frankie & Benny’s to its other brands. She said: “Some of the things that have picked up in Frankie & Benny’s are likely to have affected our other brands. We will look at price and customer service across all our brands. We won’t be looking to convert Frankie & Benny’s sites to other brands – in fact there’s opportunity to expand Frankie & Benny’s. Following the review, I’m more confident about the roll-out of Frankie & Benny’s. The new executive team will have totally responsibility for the direction of the business. The first key job for them is to get to know our customers, and get to know why our customers come back to us and go to the competition. The second part is to get to know the people in the business. They need to take those two bits to influence the next part of the strategic review. We don’t think there’s a need to change our strategy in terms of location. There are one or two retail parks where we struggle but overall our locations work for us.”

Frankie & Benny’s:
Hewitt has vowed to put the customer first as it looks to reinvigorate its biggest brand Frankie & Benny’s. Hewitt admitted internal decision-making had been a factor in the brand’s problems as well as increased competition in the casual dining segment. She said: “We pushed our prices up too high and removed some of our popular value offers. We failed to test the new authentic menu as a concept before rolling it out across 200 restaurants. The complexity of these new menus created significant operating problems in the restaurants and that hit our level of service. Despite these own-goals, Frankie & Benny’s is still loved by families. We are moving on very rapidly with our plans. It’s value we are looking at. First of all we are going to do price testing across our sites. We are also going to look at bringing back some of the dishes that were popular before. It’s about creating value for the sites and testing that rigorously. Some of the dishes we now have are complex for our chefs to make. Consumer trends change so it would be foolish to say we will bring back all the old favourites. We also have a new managing director for Frankie & Benny’s, who started in June. Until then we did not have a leader for the brand that was the most substantial part of our estate. We are confident once these things have been fixed we can roll-out Frankie & Benny’s to other sites but this will take time.”

Hewitt said expanding the concessions side of the business was very much part of the company’s plans. She added: “Concessions is a very successful business. What I have learned very harshly from this review is delivering outstanding customer service is essential and we need to do that across all our brands. However, expanding the concessions is very much part of the agenda.”

Site closures:
Hewitt said the company had decided to close 33 sites across the business following the first part of the review while a further 29 were being impaired. The closures would be 14 Frankie & Benny’s sites, 11 Chiquitos, three Coast to Coast, two Joe’s Kitchen, two Garfunkels and one pub. Hewitt said: “We are closing 33 sites that are not sustainable. We also found 29 more sites that we needed to impair. Following the review, we feel more confident that if we learn from these lessons then we can turn them around.” The closures will leave us with 250 Frankie & Benny’s sites by the end of the year and 500 across The Restaurant Group.

Focus and investment:
Hewitt said the focus of the business would be making sure the customer was put first. She added: “It’s all about making sure we offer value and all of these things will start with the customer. It’s about thinking about what the customer wants. Giving them choice is the important thing as well as a quality offer. I don’t think we need to invest money in the sites themselves. It’s the dishes and the prices that need looking at. We will be investing £6m of capex into technology. This will include tills, other systems and workflow systems. Our three main cost drivers are wages, input of food and then business rates. Our focus at this stage is the offer, the food and the service. Let’s get our cover numbers up before we start looking at increasing our space.”

Analyst reaction:
Numis Securities leisure analyst Tim Barrett said: “Frankie & Benny’s is still the underperformer and management believes that menu changes have alienated the core-customer base (families) which it is seeking to address. The appointment of Andy McCue (ex Paddy Power) as chief executive is strategically important. We expect him to prioritise stabilisation of the Frankie & Benny’s brand, but we also see scope for more effective capital allocation. The decision to close 33 underperforming sites seems a sensible start. We view it as an attractive, cash generative, turnaround situation that under the credible new management team should return to earnings growth relatively quickly.”

Peel Hunt leisure analysts Ivor Jones and Ali Naqvi said: “The review of Frankie & Benny’s estate is complete and has identified issues with pricing, operational execution and menu development. We believe this is the start of a long journey for the group but shows that management is ready to make the changes necessary to prepare the business for the future.”

Cenkos leisure analyst Simon French said: “The Restaurant Group has announced first-half results ahead of reduced expectations reporting £36.6m profit before tax (14.2p earnings per share) ahead of our forecast of £32.5m profit before tax. The statement contains a number of relatively positive messages including an improvement in current trading (like-for-likes circa 3% for past eight weeks versus -3.9% for 26 weeks to end of June), a maintained interim dividend and reiterated full-year guidance (£74m to £80m profit before tax on a 52-week basis). The group has identified 33 restaurants to close/sell and a circa £7m profit improvement for 2017 from lower depreciation (following closures), onerous leases and other efficiencies. Given the potential for further profit improvement and with Andy McCue joining as chief executive next month we do not think the stock is expensive trading on a 2017E adjusted EV/Ebitdar of 7.2 times (price-to-earnings ratio 12.7 times) and yielding more than 4%, ‘Buy’.”

UK restaurant brands are being invited to enter the Global Restaurant Leadership Distinction Awards, which are being debuted this year by Technomic. The awards form part of the Global Restaurant Leadership Conference (GRLC), which takes place at the JW Marriott Marquis in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from 10-12 October. Propel is the UK media partner for the event following the creation of an exclusive strategic partnership with Technomic. GRLC is the first event of its kind bringing the most progressive operators, US franchisors, international franchisees and the industry’s top suppliers together for three days of networking and education. As both a speaker at and a sponsor of GRLC, Technomic, which was recently acquired by Winsight and is the “go-to” source for food and foodservice industry insights, has created the Global Restaurant Leadership Distinction Awards to recognise restaurant brands that excel in the global market place through four categories – innovation, community service, brand licensing and expansion. Technomic president Darren Tristano said: “Increasingly, restaurant brands are looking beyond their borders for growth in the global market place. Operators must stay focused on innovating their offerings, supporting the industry and continuing to grow profitably.” Each nomination will be reviewed by a panel of industry experts and restaurateurs led by Tristano. The winners will be announced on stage during GRLC’s opening general session. To nominate a brand/restaurant, visit

The last Propel Multi Club Conference of 2016 is now open for bookings. It takes place on Thursday, 3 November at Congress Hall, London. Richard O’Donnell, head of the leisure sector at Canaccord Genuity, will provide an overview of the restaurant sector mergers and acquisitions landscape, current valuations in the market and the do’s and don’ts when attempting to attract investment or sell a hospitality business. Pub, restaurant and foodservice operators can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele on or calling her on 01444 817691.

Patisserie Valerie, the company that has sector investor Luke Johnson as executive chairman, has revealed it is looking to open up to 20 sites in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The company expanded across the Irish Sea when it opened its first outlet in Donegall Square in Belfast earlier this year. Chief executive Paul May said because the site has a bakery in the basement, it would help support the opening of up to 20 shops across Ireland. He revealed plans for the brand to open in Londonderry as it prepares to launch its second Belfast venue in Castle Lane. The company is also eyeing another three sites in the city. May told the Belfast Telegraph: “The first Belfast store has been trading fantastically well and we are excited to expand further into Belfast. We first looked at the site (in Castle Lane) about six weeks ago and are at the drawings and designs stage. Because we open a lot of stores we tend to do it fairly quickly – on average we open about three-and-a-half weeks after we sign the lease. Because we fitted out our first store with a bakery in the basement we have the capacity to set up to 20 stores in southern and Northern Ireland.”

BrewDog co-founder James Watt has defended the company’s valuation of its US business at $350m before it has even started brewing. He told Crowdfund Insider: “Any opinion on valuation is subjective, but the footprint of the site we are building in Columbus, which is a 100,000 square foot brewery on a 42-acre site, with some of the world’s leading brewing kit coming in from Germany and beyond shows an insane starting point for the beer we will be releasing. The existing brand awareness we have in America from our US television show Brew Dogs and our marketing campaigns, which have had global appeal, all mean we are ready to start releasing beer to a thirsty audience who are familiar with who we are and what sets us apart. Further, the established team we have running the joint including myself, my co-founder Martin (Dickie) and our financial director Neil Simpson – plus our extended senior team – bring all the experience that has come from evolving our UK company to where it is today.”

Chocolate and patisserie brand R Chocolate London will open its second site next month, this time in Belgravia. The company, founded by Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, Jessica de Rothschild and entrepreneur Ben Elliot, will launch the venue in Ebury Street at the end of September. R Chocolate’s Belgravia kitchen and tea room will feature a dessert bar with four to six covers as well as being a space for chocolate masterclasses. Guests can enjoy an array of chocolate including its signature Caramel Chocolates in a variety of different flavours and its “Memory Lane” collection of retro bars. Director Dilou Haddou said: “This is a project born out of passion, adoration and an overall love for chocolate and we have worked hard to create a range of products which showcase this. Each item in-store has been specially created for our customers and we are excited to be bringing such a special brand to the UK.” R Chocolate’s original site is in Richmond, south west London.

Mediterranean restaurant The Real Greek, which is owned by Fulham Shore, and US build-your-own pizza brand Project Pie have signed to open sites at WestQuay Watermark, the £85m dining and leisure scheme in Southampton being developed by Hammerson. The Real Greek’s 325 square metre venue on the scheme’s lower promenade will be the brand’s second restaurant outside of London. Meanwhile, Project Pie has secured its third UK site and will open the 130 square metre venue on the Long Room floor. Fulham Shore chairman David Page said: “We’re very excited to be bringing The Real Greek to Southampton for the first time, and are looking forward to welcoming the city’s diners. WestQuay Watermark is an ideal location for us to open our second restaurant outside London – a new and vibrant scheme, it is well positioned on the south coast and will be a big draw for customers from Southampton as well as the surrounding area.” Project Pie UK director Susan Canavan added: “The premium destination will allow for a wide variety of people to enjoy our authentic build-your-own pizzas. We are proud to be expanding and be able to provide more people with the chance to experience our artisan pizzas and the fresh ingredients that we boast as part of our food offering.” Sarah Fox, head of restaurants and leisure at Hammerson, said: “We are delighted to welcome both Project Pie and The Real Greek to the scheme. Each restaurant allows visitors to enjoy a different taste from around the world, building on the vibrant mix of global cuisine that the development already promises to deliver.”

Enterprise Inns’ Alford Arms, in the Hertfordshire hamlet of Frithsden, has reopened after publicans David and Becky Salisbury completed a £400,000 refurbishment to repair extensive fire damage. The blaze, in February, was started by spontaneously combusting kitchen towels just out of a tumble dryer, and ravaged the top two floors of the pub. The multi-award winning duo also run Enterprise’s Royal Oak, in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. All members of the team were retained on full wages while the work took place, and the pair have taken the opportunity to update the premises. David Salisbury said: “Considerable investment has been made to improve our energy efficiency and technology, such as an online reservations platform on our website.” Becky Salisbury added: “We’ve been totally overwhelmed by the comments and warm wishes we’ve received, whether via social media, on the phone, or in person when we’re at our other pub in Marlow or in the local high street. When we took over The Alford Arms, almost 18 years ago, we set out to create a pub that we’d want to drink and eat in. Fortunately, the local community seemed to share the same idea, quickly took us under their wing, and we can’t wait to welcome them back to the Alford.” Since 2003, The Alford Arms has been awarded Herts Dining Pub of the Year ten times by the Good Pub Guide; recently appeared in the list of Sunday Times Top 20 Gastro Pubs; and was national winner in the inaugural FreeFrom Food awards, which recognised the pub’s “amazing hospitality regardless of individual customer allergies”. David Salisbury added: “Enterprise Inns appointed the project manager, quantity surveyor and main contractor for the rebuild, and they have all been absolutely superb. The quality and clarity of communication has been first class, and we couldn’t be happier with the way the work has been done.”

Tankard Services, which is led by Burning Night Group founder Alan Harper and is a cloud-based operating systems for the licensed trade, has acquired Triniteq Services from its Australian parent, for a sum in the region of £5m. Triniteq, one of the UK’s longest established EPOS companies and owner of IP rights for Waiter PAD and Waiter POS, has pioneered the development of handheld leisure and hospitality devices for many years. John Tankard, chairman of Tankard Services, and Gary Smith, chairman of Triniteq, described the transaction as the bringing together of two major UK-based EPOS businesses to create a leisure, hospitality and retail services group with global reach. “There is a technology explosion around the use of handheld devices in the retail and leisure sector, backed up with the wealth of management information provided by an integrated system,” said Harper. “Our enlarged group aims to be at the forefront of further development.”

CPL Training has claimed a record market share in personal licence training in the first quarter of 2016. The Merseyside-based company now claims 34% of the market for the Award for Personal Licence Holders (APLH) training in England and Wales. CPL Training recorded its best performance to date, which saw more than 4,900 APLH delegates train with the company from January to March, across its 75 centres. To reward customers for their continued loyalty, CPL is set to offer a £34 discount on APLH courses scheduled in England and Wales. This limited time offer will run until Friday, 9 September and can be redeemed by calling and quoting “CPL 34”. In the past 18 months, CPL acquired one of its largest competitors – Abv Training. Currently, about 20,000 individuals per year undertake personal licence training with CPL. This figure has been on a steady increase for the past five years. Chief executive Dan Davies said: “We are delighted to have further cemented our position as the largest provider of the APLH qualification. Since the turn of the year, we’ve experienced an increasing flow of new customers and great loyalty from existing clients – demonstrating the great experience of training and booking with CPL Training. As we look to expand our APLH delivery through the acquisition of other training companies, it’s a great time to be a part of the CPL family.”

The full speaker schedule for this year’s Bar and Nightclub Conference, organised by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and Propel, has been revealed. It takes place on Tuesday, 11 October at Bafta, Piccadilly, and follows the successful launch of the event last year. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls will provide an update on political and regulatory developments. Phil Tate, chief executive of CGA Strategy, which has retailer specialist CGA Peach as a division, will reveal details of new research of usage, areas of growth, food and drink trends, and evolution within the UK bar and nightclub market. Toby Smith, chief executive of bar, nightclub and restaurant operator Novus Leisure, will talk about how the company is meeting the needs of customers in London’s evolving bar and nightclub scene, including offer evolution and social media developments. Luke Johnson, sector investor and executive chairman of Brighton Pier Company and investor in Grand Union Group, will speak about his career in the late-night sector starting at Oxford University, set out his reasons for investing in the sector, evolving the offer at the company, and his perspective on the future for the bar and nightclub sector. Serial sector entrepreneur Roy Ellis will talk about the launch of the ground-breaking Albert’s Schloss concept in Manchester a year ago, its USPs, versatility, first-year performance and roll-out potential – and set out the scope of the involvement of his Mission Mars business in Manchester’s late-night scene. Jimmy Bernstein will talk about his 14-strong US bar and live music concept Howl at the Moon. Bernstein was the keynote speaker at this year’s Bar and Nightclub Convention in Las Vegas. Howl at the Moon has sites in key US cities, including Chicago, New York and Orlando, Florida – the company has also licensed the concept to Norwegian Cruise Line, which operates it on four ships. John Leslie, chief executive of Intertain, will talk about evolving the Walkabout brand and opening new sites, working with new comedy partner Comedy Loft, the regulatory regime, its new Birmingham concept 6 on Broad Street, and the company’s relationship with backer Better Capital. Leading licensing barrister Philip Kolvin QC will provide a personal perspective on the key legal issues and developments facing bar and nightclub operators in the current climate. There will also be a panel hosted by Nicholls with Alan Miller, chairman of the Night Time Industries Association, Mick McDonnell, national co-ordinator of Best Bar None, Paddy Whur, of Woods Whur, Peter Marks, chief executive of Deltic Group, and Richard Stringer, chief executive of Kornicis, about the challenges, opportunities and threats to the bar and nightclub sector. Tickets are priced at £95 for operators who are ALMR members and £145 for non-ALMR members. Supplier tickets are £145 for ALMR supplier members and £195 for suppliers who are not ALMR members. Tickets can be booked by emailing Jo Charity at




Propel is partnering with insights firm Horizons for the first Casual Dining Study Tour. The “food of the world” study tour takes place on Wednesday, 7 September and features a full-day tour, on foot, around Shoreditch and Spitalfields sampling the casual dining scene in an area packed with innovation.

To find out more CLICK HERE


Upgrade Propel Premium and receive:

 The Morning Briefing 12 hours earlier

• Propel database of 500 multi-site companies

• Digital version of our Propel Quarterly early

• Audio recordings of leading sector executives

• Turnover & Profits Bluebook



Leading in a Multi-Unit, Multi-Site & Multi-Concept World ~ Friday, 30 September

This highly interactive one-day seminar is led by Christopher C. Muller, Ph.D. This Masterclass provides the restaurant entrepreneur, rising corporate manager or the seasoned professional with both new perspectives and practical knowledge.

To find out more CLICK HERE



The must read sector business analysis and intelligence magazine

To read our latest magazine CLICK HERE