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Flat October for pub and restaurant chains
Britain’s managed pub, bar and restaurant groups saw like-for-like sales in October up just 0.3% on the same month last year, according to figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker.
Businesses outside London generally did better, collectively up 0.4% against a 0.1% rise inside the M25. Pubs and bars did better than restaurants, with sales up 1.4% against a 1.5% collective decline for restaurants nationally.
“The truth is that we are seeing little or no growth in the eating and drinking out market,” said Peter Martin, vice president of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM.
“This is not to say people have stopped going out – they haven’t. Eating and drinking out is still what the British public like to do, but they are not spending any more or going out any more often. But with more choice of where to go than ever before they are becoming more choosy and trying new places,” added Martin.
“This won’t help business confidence in the sector, however. With inflation running at 3%, sales are effectively going backwards, and with cost pressures in the industry, around food inflation and people in particular, still rising, times are tough for operators,” he said.
Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, added: “It’s a second month of poor like-for-like sales for the sector, with casual dining groups being particularly hit. Consumers are continuing to choose to spend on ‘big ticket’ experiences such as holidays and sporting/entertainment events as their budgets get squeezed further. Operators will be desperate to see a reversal of this trend throughout the all-important festive trading season. For some, it could be the difference between survival or failure as we move into the New Year.”
Josh Eggleton launches chef training initiative
The School of Food is a new vocational training programme for Bristol chefs launched by Michelin–starred chef Josh Eggleton and Best Ambassador for Food winner Adrian Kirikmaa.
Designed to help find the catering and hospitality professionals of the future, the two experienced chefs have joined forces with Ofsted Outstanding-rated Weston College, Ashton Gate Stadium and St Katherine’s School to develop the one year course which is based on the framework of the Commis Chef Level 2 Apprenticeship and will be taught by chefs and catering professionals.
The school will also “promote the importance of using local food while prioritising nutrition, sustainability, traceability, the provenance of produce and food ethics.” Apprentices will learn “nutrition, food sourcing, cookery skills, menu design and technical skills” and complete their training with sessions on the business side of the industry including procurement and stock management, finance and HR, hospitality management and business development.
Grillstock goes into administration
Bristol-based barbecue festival and restaurant group Grillstock has fallen into administration.
Gareth Roberts and Paul Ellison of KRE Corporate Recovery LLP were appointed Joint Administrators of Grillstock Limited on 17th November 2017.
A spokesperson said they were hoping to find a buyer for the business and the group’s five sites remain open.
Grillstock started as a food and music festival in Bristol in 2012 with an ethos of “meat, music and mayhem” and opened its first permanent restaurant in Bristol’s St. Nicholas Market in 2013. Three restaurants in Bath, London and Leicester followed. The chain specialises in American smokehouse-style barbecue food with burgers and plates of mixed meat.
West Berkshire Brewery’s new £6m facilities up and running
The new “state-of-the-art” West Berkshire Brewery and packaging facilities are now open for business. Head brewer Will Twomey and his team moved into the new premises in October and have now completed all their trials.
The new facility will cater for large and small volumes and offer flexibility and quality control regardless of the size of the brew. The automated packaging line is rated to fill 9000 330ml bottles or 12,000 330ml cans per hour and means that West Berkshire Brewery will now be able to offer contract packaging to other brewers.
Heuft control units ensure “packaging is faultless” and an on-site laboratory will run be able to run micro-analysis before and after filling.
Chairman David Bruce said: “This is a big moment for us at the West Berkshire Brewery… It is the culmination of a three-year project that has seen us plan, fund and build a cutting-edge, custom-built brewery complete with extraordinarily sophisticated packaging lines. It means that as well as being able to continue to brew our own exceptional beers, we will be able to offer extensive brewing and packaging facilities to other brewers from all over the U.K. We are extremely excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.”
Cornish Kern crowned World Champion Cheese 2017
Lynher Dairies Cheese Company’s Cornish Kern was named World Cheese Champion 2017 at the 30th annual World Cheese Awards. The alpine-style medium-hard cheese rose above the 3000 other entries, all judged in a single day at Tobacco Dock in London on Friday 17th November in the world’s largest cheese-only awards.
Cathy Strange, global executive coordinator for Whole Foods Market in the USA, championed the cheese during the final round of judging, describing the cheese as: “Visually stunning, with its standout dark rind and the quality of milk is really evident in this cheese. It has an amazing age and a complexity, which keeps on coming. This is a super cheese and I would be glad to have it on any table.”
Sarah Barnes, technical manager at Lynher Dairies Cheese Company, who collected the award in London, said: “I’m on top of the cheese world! Throughout the course of the day our Kern went through so many layers of judging, going from 3,001 to 66, to the top 16 and then World Champion and the judges said some wonderful things about our cheese. Cornish Kern is a new concept so to see it come to this is so exciting for the company, and a great start for this cheese’s career.
Other World Cheese Award winners from the South included Cheese Etc, The Pangbourne Cheese Shop (based near Reading) which was named Cheese Counter of the Year.
Devon cheese makers Quicke’s won four awards, earning Golds for their Goat’s Milk Clothbound Cheese and Extra Mature Clothbound Cheddar, silver for their Double Devonshire Clothbound Cheese and bronze for the Buttery Clothbound Cheddar.
Record year for Devon Tourism Awards
There were a record 205 entries across 25 different categories with 76 awards announced on the night at this year’s Devon Tourism Awards.
Hosted by travel journalist Simon Calder and arctic explorer Ann Daniels, the eighth annual awards saw 25 Boutique B&B from Torquay taking the Winner of Winners and B&B Gold awards. The Outstanding Contribution to Tourism award was presented to Esther Pearson and the South West Coast Path team for their Discover England project.
Hotels were also amongst the winners with Cary Arms & Spa winning Gold for Small/Boutique Hotel and Bovey Castle for Large Hotel. The Deer Park Country Hotel took Gold for Venue and Business Tourism with Kingsbridge Information Centre taking Gold for Visitor Information. The Tourism Event and Festival Gold went to Bovey Tracey’s Contemporary Crafts Festival.
Food and Drink Golds went to The Elephant Restaurant, Guardhouse Café and The Swan in Bampton. The two Self Catering Golds went to Westward Living in Westward Ho, who also took Gold for International Visitor Experience, and The Milkshed in Honiton. Golds also went to River Dart Country Park and Oakdown Holiday Park in the Camping and Caravanning and Holiday Park category, with Longlands taking Gold for Glamping.
In the Experience categories Golds went to Skern Lodge for Active & Sporting, Plymouth Gin for Learning Experience, Unique Devon Tours for Guided Tours and Cary Arms and Spa for Spa and Wellbeing. Attraction Golds went to Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Plymouth Gin.
Organiser and VisitDevon Director Robin Barker commented: “I am so elated that we made the decision to launch these awards 8 years ago. The investments in excellence, and especially in outstanding service we’ve seen since are literally flabbergasting. And the delight we see each year from winners, along with their feedback, tells me that we are making a difference to Devon and to its number one industry. Well done to all.”
The full list of Winners and Highly Commended is below or can be viewed at www.devontourismawards.org.uk
FOOD & DRINK NEWS
Lick the Spoon chocolate bars
West Country chocolate makers Lick the Spoon have launched a new range of chocolate bars.
The six new flavours are Pistachio & Sesame, Salted Caramel, Cafe Bronde, Rose & Violet cream, Sea Salt Praline and Blackforest.
All the milk chocolate bars for the artisan producer now have an increased cocoa percentage from 40 to 45% as they believe “The national palate is evolving with a readiness to taste increasingly complex flavours in milk chocolate, married with a desire for reduced sugar content.”
Their dark chocolate is made under the Raisetrade initiative in partnership with Chocolat Madagascar, using cacao grown in the north-west Sambirano valley.
These new bars retail at £3.50 from www.lickthespoon.co.uk and wholesale is also available.
Luxury doughnuts from Prima Bakeries
A new range of premium filled doughnuts will be available at the Cornish baker Prima’s shop in Scorrier and for wholesale clients. The four flavours are Strawberry-Sprinkle, Cinn-Apple, Triple-Choc and Caramel-Lace.
Paul Brockett Prima’s Head of Sales and Marketing said “We have been aware of the growing trend in doughnuts for some time and after a visit to a London trade show we decided to up our doughnut game. We hope the range will offer something to entice everyone.”
Paul added, “We have lots of exciting plans for the coming year in terms of innovation and will be announcing more new products in the coming months.”
FEM launch multi-cook oven to save kitchen space
The Vector Four-in-One from FEM offers four cooking times, fan speeds and temperatures in one oven to help operators achieve more production out of less space.
Manufactured by Alto Shaam the four separate oven chambers use a new airflow technology that “delivers faster, more even cooking” and each one can be independently controlled.
The ovens use a vertical airflow from the bottom to top of each chamber to produce even temperature control and little heat escapes when the door is opened.
“The Vector is a truly versatile cooking appliance that can increase production, improve quality and save time,” says Mark Hogan, marketing and sales manager of FEM. “It was unveiled at Host and stirred up a lot of interest – because while the benefits it delivers are crystal clear, it’s also a brand new concept, in a category all of its own.”
The smallest Vector is the two-chamber VMC-H2H, which measures 533mm wide by 993mm deep and 724mm high. It has a list price of £13,250 and is available through FEM dealers.
New eco-logs for wood ovens
Logs Direct have launched a new wood briquette for pizzerias, mobile caterers and eateries to use in their wood-fired ovens.
The Piccante log is formed from ground and compressed virgin beech, which is compacted to create a dense briquette, free of additives, glues and adhesives. Each 1.55kg log has a calorific value of 5,35 kcal and its eight-sided shape reduces contact with the oven floor for an improved burn with lower flame ensuring pizza bases aren’t singed by embers from the wood.
The log is the result of two years development by Logs Direct sales director, Stephen Talbot after the company entered the restaurant sector with its kiln-dried logs and also launched the Woody Awards for wood-fired eateries.
Stephen Talbot says: “We are delighted to bring this exciting new eco-briquette to the market and thank all the chefs who tested them and gave us their feedback. It has all proved very positive and we are sure we shall be firing up many more restaurants that cook with a wood-fired oven and want a briquette that has been created entirely with their needs in mind.”
Nine log 14kg boxes of Piccante logs cost £6.98 from www.logsdirect.co.uk.
Watergate Bay Hotel recruiting new director
A vacancy for a new director at Cornwall’s Watergate Bay Hotel has been announced.
The new director will sit alongside the senior management team and report to the chief executive Will Ashworth, who has overseen the hotel’s strategic direction since 2005.
The position comes as the hotel celebrates its 50th year of private ownership with the successful candidate being responsible for “keeping Watergate at the cutting edge of hospitality.”
Will Ashworth, CEO, Watergate Bay Hotel said: “We’ve taken Watergate Bay from a bucket and spade holiday hotel and created what it is now. However, there are still very significant opportunities to grow the business. We now need a business leader to join the executive team and focus on our expansion at Watergate Bay.”
The team behind Watergate Bay recently launched a new collection of hotels based on its “relaxed, active and social ethos” called Another Place. The first hotel, Another Place, The Lake, opened on the shores of Ullswater in August 2017.
Legacy hotels refurbs and appoints GM
Following their recent acquisition of the New Place Hotel near Southampton, Legacy Hotels and Resorts have started a £1.3m refurbishment and appointed a new general manager there.
Richard Powell will take charge of the 110-bed Grade I listed manor house hotel located in Hampshire 12 miles from Portsmouth and 11 miles from Southampton.
Powell joins Legacy after senior management roles at brands including Premier Inn and Whitbread. On his appointment, he said: “I’m very pleased to join New Place Hotel at this exciting time as the hotel settles into new ownership and management. Now that the first phase of the refurbishment programme is complete, I’m looking forward to working closely with the team to successfully deliver the remaining phases of the refurbishment over the next few months, whilst focusing on exactly what makes New Place a great venue for leisure breaks, meetings and events alongside being the regions premier wedding venue.”
Andy Townsend, Chief Executive Officer at Legacy Hotels & Resorts comments, “The general manager role here at New Place Hotel is a varied and rewarding one and we know Richard, as a local guy, with his excellent work history and innovative nature, will drive the hotel forward into its next phase of development and assist us in continuing to position the property as one of the leading hotels in the area and integrate the business into the local community.”
Ginspiration coming this week from Rise & Shine
Look out for our special gin showcase, coming directly to your inbox this Wednesday 29th November. It will introduce you to some of the country’s finest gins and the people who produce them, including British Polo Gin, Conker Gin, Cotswold Distillery, Gin Jar, Newton House Gin, Salcombe Distilling Co, Trevethan Cornish Craft Distillery and Wicked Wolf Gin.