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Better March weather boosts sales
Britain’s managed pub and restaurant groups saw collective like-for-like sales grow 3.8% in March, according to latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker. Trading in the same month last year was badly hit by the effects of the ‘Beast from the East’.
“March last year was a month to forget when snow brought much of the country to a standstill. Both pubs and restaurants felt the effects with like-for-likes across the board down 3.1%, so these latest figures will be a relief as the sector regains lost ground,” said Karl Chessell, director of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM.
Managed pubs were collectively up 4.0%, with restaurant groups, which have suffered most in recent months, up 3.6%.
“Pubs also saw a recovery in both food and drink sales over the month, although drinks trade grew 5.7% against a smaller 2.7% increase in food, suggesting that the underlying trend drink continuing to outstrip food sales continuing,” added Chessell.
“The big test, of course, will come with the results for April and the Easter holidays. Last Easter was a bumper time for the sector with sales ahead 5.9% on the holiday weekend the year before, boosted by the fact that many people didn’t go out in March. The pressure to match that this time is now on,” he added.
Trevor Watson, executive director at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “These results show that revenue levels across the sector returned to March 2017 levels last month. The market remains challenging for many casual dining operators who continue to face unprecedented levels of competition. The wide variety of choice including the popularity of food halls, markets and pop-up street food offers around the country continues to draw custom away from conventional restaurant and pub outlets and are increasingly the social meeting place of choice for younger consumers,”
Saxon Moseley, senior manager at RSM, said: “With flowers blooming and the onset of British summertime, managed pub and restaurant groups bounced back this March with strong like for like performance unhindered by the poor weather conditions of last year’s ‘Beast from the East’. With the later Easter break in 2019 and the possibility of progress on Brexit, there is cautious optimism that April will see a loosening of consumer purse strings and further good news for the sector.”
Total sales across the 52 companies in the Tracker, which include the effect of net new openings since this time last year, were ahead 6.1% compared to last March.
“The latest figures have essentially got the market back on an even keel, as underlying like-for-like growth for the Tracker cohort, which represents both large and small groups, reached its highest level since July 2017, running at 1.5% for the 12 months to the end of March, a marked improvement on the 0.9% at the end of February,” said Chessell.
Small batch distiller plans visitor centre
English Spirit have announced plans to create a new visitor centre on the site of Treguddick Manor in Launceston, Cornwall.
The new Distillery Visitor Centre will feature a café bar, shop and event space as well as giving guests an opportunity to see how spirits are distilled, including St Piran’s Rum, which is blended with water from a borehole at the manor and rested on site in oak casks.
Dr John Walters, founder and master distiller at English Spirit said: “We are delighted to be in the fortunate position of being able to announce plans for our new English Spirit Distillery Visitor Centre. We are planning to create a remarkable destination for visitors both from within Cornwall and further afield, on a beautiful site that does justice to our delicious range of spirits.”
Malcolm Bell, chief executive of Visit Cornwall said: “I am delighted to hear the great news: this is a boost to the reputation as Cornwall as a food tourism destination.”
The English Spirit Distillery Visitor Centre is expected to open in Spring 2020.
Tourism awards organisers win accolade
Services for Tourism, the organisers of the South West Tourism Excellence Awards as well as the Cornwall, Bristol, Bath & Somerset, Devon and Dorset Tourism Awards, have been given a Gold Trust Mark by the Independent Awards Standards Council.
Chris Robinson, Co-Founder and Chair of the Independent Awards Standards Council, says: “We are delighted to award the South West Tourism Excellence Awards a Gold Trust Mark for its ethics, transparency and general great practice. The first tourism award to receive Gold. What impressed me most about the awards is how they give feedback despite being free to enter, and how they truly listen to entrants – surveying them every year to ensure continuous improvement. A great scheme.”
Services for Tourism director Robin Barker said: “Tourism is a fast-moving dynamic industry with leaders constantly innovating and investing. In judging them we cannot stand still and the Tourism Awards of 2019 bear little relation to those of 2008, when we first took them on.
Feedback from entrants tells us that the main reason people now enter the awards is for the free feedback and to improve their business, this being one of the reasons entries have grown each year to a record 651 in 2018. It is, of course, a team effort, and I must thank our 50+ judges and 40+ sponsors in making it possible.”
St Austell’s Small Batch Brews in Tesco
St Austell Brewery has launched three of its Small Batch Brews in Tesco. Big Job Double IPA, Sayzon and Westcountry Abbey Ale are now available in stores nationwide in 330ml bottles.
Sayzon (5.9% ABV) is “a Cornish interpretation of a traditional Belgian farmhouse ale, brewed with a blend of barley, wheat and oat malts, and gently spiced with ginger, lemon and lime zest.” Westcountry Abbey Ale (4.7% ABV) is “an all-malt brew with aromatic noble hops and the complex signature of Belgian Abbey ale yeast.” While Big Job (7.2% ABV) is a “big, powerful double IPA – which was crowned champion bottled beer of Britain in 2017.”
Roger Ryman, brewing director, St Austell Brewery said: “Since installing our Small Batch Brewery, our brewers have been lucky enough to create a whole new world of beers for people to enjoy.
“We’re delighted to introduce these three brews to Tesco shoppers across the UK and be able to showcase the variety of beer styles that we’ve been producing here in Cornwall, on a bigger scale.”
Granny Gothards open third outlet
Somerset ice cream maker Granny Gothards are opening their third outlet, in Vivary Park, Taunton. They also have shops in Dorset and Devon.
Amanda Stansfield, owner said: “We were delighted to win the concession to provide ice creams in Vivary Park for the next 5 years and can finally meet the demands of the public who may have eaten our ice creams in a restaurant and are constantly calling or emailing to see where they can enjoy one on a nice hot sunny day.”
Visit www.grannygothards.co.uk for more details or call Amanda on 07712 873451.
FOOD AND DRINK NEWS
Wadworth brew 3 new ales for summer
Wadworth are introducing three new beers for summer 2019. They are Burnt Orange IPA, “a pale English ale with citrus aroma”; Summer Ale, “a real thirst quencher golden ale and a salute to the style”; and Wadworth’s own American IPA “with a zingy and clean finish on the palate.”
Jonathan Thomas, commercial director for Wadworth said: “We wanted to really experiment this year with popular new hop varieties and flavours. This new summer range provides unique beers for those established cask beer drinkers as well as appealing to new drinkers just starting on their cask beer journey.”
Thatchers introduce lighter cans
Thatchers Cider is set to save the equivalent of 5.9 million cans a year as it introduces lighter weight cans for its cider.
The switch to Ardagh Group’s lighter weight beverage cans will see around 70 tons of aluminium saved each year as well as approximately 381 tons of C02, according to the Somerset cidermaker. They were also the first cidermaker to ditch plastic ring carriers, introducing recyclable board outers for its four-pack of cans instead.
Martin Thatcher, owner, said: We’re looking at many different ways of reducing our impact on the environment. As well as running a business, we are all, as individuals, passionate about cutting waste and doing our bit to bring about change. Lightweighting our cans means less energy used across the packaging process.
“We’re producing around 100 million cans a year at Myrtle Farm, so this initiative will make a big impact.
“Investing in sustainability is one of our key priorities. However, it’s equally important to retain quality, ensuring that the durability of the new lighter cans is not affected. So the Ardagh Group worked hard to get the weight exactly right.”
Eden Springs’ bottom-load water dispenser
Water and coffee company Eden Springs are launching the Storm, a new floor standing, bottom-load water dispenser.
It’s been designed so that water bottles slide into the base of the cooler rather than needing to be lifted. Featuring an easy to remove reservoir system and LED indicator for when the bottle needs changing, it can be located anywhere with a power supply. Cold and hot water options are available with a child safety mechanism on the latter model.
Brian Macpherson, managing director at Eden Springs (UK) Ltd, said: “With studies showing that only 10% of employees drink the recommended 6-8 glasses of water a day, and with a drop in hydration of just 1-2% reducing cognitive performance by 10%, providing a bottled water cooler is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to promote hydration and employee wellbeing. By encouraging your staff to drink more water, you can reduce health-related absences, increase worker morale and improve workplace productivity.
The Storm’s contemporary yet ergonomic design, attractive finish, concealed faucets and easy maintenance makes it a fantastic addition to any location looking to care for their employees, customers and visitors.”
For more information on the Eden Springs Storm water cooler, please visit www.edensprings.co.uk or call 0844 800 3344.
Cotswold “foodie haven” sold
The Horse and Groom at Upper Oddington near Stow-on-the-Wold has been sold to Drunken Sailor Holidays Ltd off an asking price of £850,000 by Colliers International.
Described as an archetypical English village inn, it is believed to date from 1580 and is made of Cotswold stone with exposed beams and flagstones. It features seven letting rooms.
Norman Liu from Drunken Sailor Holidays said: “We loved the idea of running an English country pub. Having entered the hospitality business we will bring our enthusiasm and excitement to create a truly unique visit.
“Many pubs in the city are soulless – you eat, you drink, you leave. We want to create a memorable dining experience mixing fusion cuisine with fantastic local produce, such as Gloucester Old Spot pork, to make the Horse and Groom that little bit more different and exciting. We strive to source as much of our produce within a 50-mile radius of the pub.”
Peter Brunt, a Director with global real estate advisor Colliers International’s Hotels team said: “the Horse and Groom is situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty just over a mile from Stow-on-the-Wold, close to Cheltenham, Cirencester, Woodstock, Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick.
“There was a lot of interest in the business from the market. Quality freeholds like these are rarely available, so this is a wonderful opportunity for buyers to acquire one of the very best pubs in the Cotswolds.”
Successful Selling Course by Purple Cloud Consultancy
8th May 2019
10am – 4:30pm
“This course provides participants with the opportunity to gain essential selling skills and to turn potential customers into loyal ambassadors.”
£90+VAT per person, including lunch.
To book and for further information, visit
Lead, Motivate and Succeed Course by Purple Cloud Consultancy
9th May 2019
10am – 4:30pm
“This inspiring course will empower first-time managers and supervisors to get the most out of their team. Expert tuition provides an insight into leadership and how to motivate your staff to excel.”
£90+VAT per person, including lunch.
To book and for further information, visit
London Wine Fair
20th – 22nd May 2019
“Featuring over 14,000 wines from 32 countries, innovative tastings, critical masterclasses and a host of outstanding features, the show is an unmissable destination for anyone in the industry.”
European Coffee, Tea and Soft Drink Expo
21st – 22nd May 2019
“The definitive event for the professional service of coffee, tea, soft drinks and other non-alcoholic products”
Tourism Management Institute Hot Topic
23rd May 2019
10am – 6pm
University of Westminster, Regent Street, London
“Enhance your destination appeal through events and experiences. The event will focus on the latest research and case studies to give delegates ideas to take back to their destinations, as well as our usual, highly rated networking opportunities to share experiences and learn from each other.”
The British Cheese Awards 2019
29th May 2019
Exmoor Hall, Royal Bath & West Show, Shepton Mallet. Somerset
“The British Cheese Awards is the pre-eminent cheese event in the UK, as well as a great celebration of British cheese and the industry. Over 1,000 cheeses are expected to be entered with visitors being able to get a unique opportunity to see all these cheeses in one location.”