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Christmas boost for pubs and restaurants
While retail struggled, Britain’s restaurant and pub companies had a good Christmas and New Year with collective like-for-like sales up a healthy 4.1% on 2017, according to latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker.
Pubs enjoyed the biggest uplift with collective like-for-likes ahead 5.1% over the festive season while there was a 2.4% rise for restaurants.
“This is all in stark contrast to the gloom hanging over retail, which according to the British Retail Consortium suffered its worst Christmas for a decade with zero sales growth,” said Karl Chessell, director of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM.
“What these Tracker figures suggest is that consumers are being more selective about where they spend their money, and are looking for memorable experiences – like going out for a meal or drink with family or friends over Christmas – rather than just buying ‘things’”, added Chessell.
Mark Sheehan, managing director of Coffer Corporate Leisure said: “The fact is the eating and drinking-out sectors had an excellent trading period in their busiest time of the year. Consumers escaped the political turmoil and headed for pubs and restaurants to escape the tedium. Pre-booked sales, in particular, were strong and the months ahead are going to be tough but at this crucial time trading was robust.”
“This is a strong result for the sector, with both pubs and restaurants benefitting, driven in part by both helpful weather comparatives and an extended holiday period for many families,” added Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM. ”That said, discounting is already picking up and we won’t know until later in the year if increased sales have converted to profit. This conversion level will be crucial for operators who continue to face rising costs and more cautious consumer spending.”
Drink sales were the major driver of growth in pubs over the period, up 6.4% on last year compared to a 3.6% rise in food sales, the Tracker figures show.
“Premiumisation will be a big part of that, and trading-up appears to have helped restaurants too, as the number of covers served rose only 1.3% from last year,” Karl Chessell observed.
“What will be most encouraging for these pub and restaurant groups is that trading was positive throughout December, following a 1.5% sales uplift in November,” he added.
Total sales over the six-week festive period, which include the effect of new openings since this time last year across the 49 companies in the seasonal Tracker cohort, were ahead 7.1% compared to same period in 2017.
‘King of Sommeliers’ Gerard Basset dies
Master Sommelier and co-founder of Hotel Du Vin, Gerard Basset has passed away at the age of 61, following a terminal cancer diagnosis last year.
The former World’s Best Sommelier was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus in 2017 and underwent a major operation and chemotherapy before dying at home in the New Forest on January 16th 2019, surrounded by his family.
His wife, Nina Basset, said: “Whilst we are devastated to have to say goodbye to Gerard for the last time, we draw strength from the kind messages that we have already received from the many people whose lives he touched.
“He fought a brave battle against cancer and we are comforted that he died at home surrounded by his family and that he is now at peace. Both Romané and I are profoundly grateful for the support we have received from our friends across the world, including many in the wine and hospitality industries and to know that Gerard was so loved by all those who knew him.”
Born in France, Gerard originally trained as a chef before starting his career as a sommelier when he relocated to the UK in the 1980s. Appointed head sommelier at Chewton Glen in 1988, he first met Robin Hutson. They went on to co-found Hotel du Vin in 1994. They later sold the boutique hotel chain to Malmaison for £66m. Named the World’s Best Sommelier in 2014, Gerard was awarded an OBE for services to the hospitality industry in 2011 and the Order du Mérite Agricole from the French government in 2018.
Chris Simpson leaves Gidleigh Park
Andrew Brownsword Hotels has announced that chef Chris Simpson is leaving Gidleigh Park after one year in the role.
Simpson joined the luxury five-star hotel in Exmoor in January 2018 from his head chef role at Nathan Outlaw’s Port Issac restaurant. He won a Michelin star in October 2018, although this was a drop from the two stars retained under previous chef Michael Wignall’s tenure.
A spokesperson for Brownsword Hotels said: “Guests, the Brownsword family and our whole company have delighted in the dishes and food style that Chris brought to Gidleigh Park. As his first lead chef role, we understand that the challenges and demands of the multiple outlets in a hotel kitchen versus a single restaurant operation aren’t for everyone and fully support his decision to take some time out.”
St Austell acquire Bristol pub
St Austell Brewery have purchased the Lamplighters pub in Bristol to join their eight-strong Bath Ales portfolio.
Sitting on the bank of the River Avon in Shirehampton, the Lamplighters dates back to 1760 and was originally a country residence for a prosperous contractor who lit over half of Bristol with oil-lamps.
The Lamplighters’ new tenant, James Sleeman, is the operator of three West Country pubs, the Bristol Ram, the Bristologist and the Bristol Yard.
Steve Worrall, Retail Director St Austell Brewery, said: “As a business, we have an ongoing acquisition strategy to strengthen our award-winning estate of pubs and hotels across the South West. We’re therefore delighted to be able to announce the Lamplighters as the latest addition to Bath Ales’ collection of pubs in the region.
“Set in a terrific location overlooking the River Avon, Lamplighters is a classic community pub with a great seasonal food offering, quality local cask beers and excellent outdoor areas, including a south facing terrace. With over 160 years’ experience of championing the pub as the focal point of the community, we look forward to maintaining the character of the pub while at the same time developing the offering in partnership with our tenant, James Sleeman. James is an experienced operator with the knowledge and ability to create a warm welcome and exceptional experiences for all guests to this historic and well-loved pub.”
FOOD & DRINK NEWS
New rum from Devon
Hattiers Premium Reserve is a new rum that “combines four oak-aged rums with pure Dartmoor water to produce an exceptional spirit that’s as enjoyable on the rocks as it is in your favourite rum cocktail.”
Distilled by Foursquare in Barbados, it starts with a classic pot and column still premium base rum and is then blended with rums from the Dominican Republic, Panama and Guatemala before being combined with soft Dartmoor water.
Hattiers Rum has won the silver outstanding award at the International Wine & Spirits Competition 2018 and gold at Taste of the West. It was also selected as the official spirits partner for Luscombe Drinks’ new mixer range.
Founder and master blender Philip Everett-Lyons says: “We developed the blend to be an accessible premium sipping rum with an elegant combination of soft fruits, caramel and heat that is warm and jovial, just like us. Every sip is a pure delight no matter how you’re shaking it up and drinking.
Over the next few years we will be creating small batches of our own rum blends, with the aim of ageing our very own Hattiers vintage, once our palates are satisfied with excellence. We’ve embarked on a thrilling adventure of distilling, and hope our local rum drinkers can join us on our jovial journey.’”
Hattiers Rum Premium Reserve 40% 70cl bottle (£42) is available nationally, go to www.hattiers.com for more details.
New Forest Ice Cream rebrands
New Forest Ice Cream have unveiled a new brand identity for 2019. Retaining the primary blue and red colours, they have updated their logo to include waves and leaves to reflect their area’s coastal and forest ties with an ice cream cone and ‘est. 1983’ line to highlight their heritage spanning 26 years.
Director, Christina Veal, said: “The New Forest Ice Cream brand has continued to evolve over the years through our ever-expanding product range and whilst our logo has developed a number of times since 1983, this is the boldest step forward we have taken in terms of updating the design.
A long and thorough design process was carried out to achieve the final outcome. We are absolutely thrilled with the balance between maintaining elements of our original identity, yet featuring a fresh and updated new look, which is more relevant to the brand we are today. The new look is sleek, bold and modern with an aesthetically pleasing design, yet is instantly recognisable as New Forest Ice Cream.”
Salcombe Brewery Co. launches porter
Island Street Porter is the third beer in Salcombe Brewery Co.’s range of craft beers. The 5.9% ABV porter blends eight malts to produce “hints of dark chocolate, coffee and black cherry which, combined with British hops, creates an aroma reminiscent of Black Forest gateaux.”
Brewer Sam Beaman comments: “ We decided to brew Island Street Porter to contrast with our hop driven beers, which are on the light gold to amber spectrum. These are great session beers but we wanted to produce something a little bit different. Creating a porter offered the opportunity to branch away from our core range in terms of colour, style and strength. Island Street Porter is the result of many months of planning and development and we are thrilled with the results. It is a must for anyone in search of a beer with bags of flavour. It’s fast becoming a favourite in the brewhouse”.
For more details email email@example.com or call 01548 854888.
When life gives you lemons…
Devon Distillery have been in touch to offer South West businesses a free batch of organic alcohol-soaked lemons. They will be left over from the process of the micro-distillery making their latest batch of Devoncello at some point in March.
Head of operations Kate Le Maux is keen for talented artisan producers to upcycle them into delicious new preserves, or other products, that can make the most of this citrus bounty. The lemons have been soaked in Devon Distillery’s grape marc Dappa spirit but had nothing else added to them.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you can give them a good home.
New Josper Combo oven from Jestic
The Josper Combo combines a traditional enclosed oven with the latest Josper Basque grill to give chefs the “ultimate flexibility when cooking with charcoal.“
By choosing from a combination of ovens and grills, operators can work with exclusive UK distributors, Jestic Foodservice Equipment, to create a bespoke Combo to suit their kitchen and cater for up to 200 people per hour.
The Basque Grill features a single or double grill with manually controlled cooking heights above the charcoal bed. The HJX oven gives the same smoky tastes from the charcoal cooking process but in an enclosed chamber allowing oven temperatures of up to 400°c while retaining moisture.
Steve Morris, Sales Director at Jestic Foodservice Equipment, said: “The Josper Combo puts all of the joys of charcoal cooking into one appliance. Chefs will relish the opportunity to cook with precision on open charcoal, whilst also appreciating the consistent temperature merged with the remarkable control that is achievable in the enclosed oven.
Thanks to the quality craftsmanship and superior materials used in manufacturing a Josper oven, the Combo is equally well placed in an open plan kitchen as it is back of house. Able to engage and fascinate diners, charcoal cooking not only delivers exceptional taste and flavour, but captivates chefs and paying guests alike.”
For further information call 01892 831 960 or visit www.jestic.co.uk.
Gloucestershire hotel appoints 27-year-old head chef
Corse Lawn House in Gloucestershire has appointed Chris Monk as its new head chef. The 27-year-old will be the youngest to take charge of the kitchen in the hotel’s history.
He joins them from stints working at The Montagu Arms at Beaulieu and the two Michelin-starred Le Champignon Sauvage although he started his career at Corse Lawn in his early teens.
Corse Lawn House’s owner Baba Hine said: “We are delighted to welcome back Chris as a core member of our hotel team here at Corse Lawn House. Chris has been doing a terrific job so far and our guests are relishing his menus. It’s no mean feat taking on a kitchen with such standing, yet I have absolute confidence in Chris and we are all excited to watch him flourish.”
Self Motivated and Talented Chef Required to Run Their Own Restaurant
Fairwater Head Hotel is looking for a talented Chef to take over their hotel restaurant and develop the already strong award-winning dining business in a stunning countryside location with panoramic views.
Have you always wanted to own your own restaurant, write your own menus and be the master of your own destiny, well now might be your chance?
It is important that you share our vision to use fresh locally sourced produce and offer quality cuisine in a relaxed and friendly dining atmosphere.
We have successfully sublet our 40 cover plus hotel restaurant to two individuals over the past five years and the opportunity has now arisen again.
We offer a strong base for a new, enthusiastic and talented chef to run their own kitchen and take all the proceeds from the food sales, we also bring a guaranteed 1000 covers to the restaurant each year.
We are happy to work with you, offer business, bookkeeping and telephone booking support, joint marketing promotions and assistance in staff recruitment.
In return, we will charge you a percentage rent based on turnover.
If you are interested please contact Adam Southwell to discuss the opportunity further.
Fairwater Head Hotel
Business South Local Produce Show 2019 – Producers & Suppliers
Southampton Football Club, St Mary’s Stadium, Southampton
“Business South is working again in partnership with Hampshire Fayre, Cavendish Ship Stores and Paris Smith to invite suppliers and exhibitors from the South to exhibit at our Local Produce and Trade Show 2019”
The Foodservice Show
22nd – 23rd January
“The event will showcase the best products and services from the food and drink industry, attracting key buyers from across the sector.”
The Professional Kitchen Show
22nd – 23rd January
“The annual showcase for the catering equipment industry – a coming together of the whole supply chain including manufacturers, dealers, designers and end users.”
Cotswold Fayre New Product Launch Show (South)
Hilton Hotel, Bracknell. RG12 0QJ
“On the road with their new suppliers, see and taste the product ranges, all in one place and meet the people who make them.”