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Zero growth for pubs and restaurants in May
Britain’s managed restaurant and pub groups saw trading flat-line in May. Collective like-for-like sales growth across the market was zero when compared with the same period last year, according to the latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker.
Restaurant chains performed better than pubs and bars, and more strongly than in recent months, with like-for-likes up 3.1%, against May last year. In comparison, pub and bar groups saw collective like-for-likes fall 1.7%, with drink sales down 2.4% and food down 1.6%.
Karl Chessell, director of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM, said: “The public still went out to eat and drink, but only at the same level as last May. While this could initially seem like bad news for the market, especially after the positive growth seen in March and April, we have to remember that May 2018 benefitted from consistently good weather and the royal wedding, both boosting performance. Maintaining sales against this positive backdrop, and throughout what is widely acknowledged as tougher trading conditions, is no mean feat.”
Trevor Watson, executive director, valuations at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “The pattern of spending in restaurants and bars reflects weather variations. At Davis Coffer Lyons, we are experiencing improved activity in terms of site finding, with many successful operators taking the view that now is a good time to acquire high-quality locations without needing to pay for excessive premiums.”
Paul Newman, partner and head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, added: “Given the backdrop of continuing political and economic uncertainty, growth rates have remained remarkably resilient throughout May. Operators have experienced much volatility in recent trading with performance fluctuating wildly throughout April, with a late Easter weekend, shifting bank holidays and some extremes of weather to navigate. The overall market remains flat and those who remain open for business will hope to begin to benefit from recent restaurant closures in the months ahead.”
Macdonald Hotels selling 27 properties
The Scottish hotel group Macdonald are selling 27 sites in a blockbuster deal with a private equity investor which will clear their bank debt of nearly £190 million.
The portfolio being sold include Rusacks Hotel, overlooking the 18th green at St Andrews. Also included are the five-star Bath Spa and Randolph Hotel in Oxford as well the Loch Rannoch in Perthshire and The Compleat Angler on the banks of the River Thames at Marlow. It is hoped the deal will be completed by August.
The group, the majority of which is owned by industry veteran Donald Macdonald and his family, will retain 11 hotels including the Aviemore Highland Resort and four Monument Leisure hotels.
Mr Macdonald said: “The board carefully weighed up all the proposals and unanimously agreed that selling the majority of the hotels to a new, well-funded investor will enable them to realise their full potential, both as hotels and in terms of the significant development potential on several of the sites. This is excellent news for the 2,200 loyal employees based at these hotels [and] their 190 colleagues in our central support team.”
St Austell Brewery buy first Wiltshire pub
St Austell Brewery have acquired The Red Lion Inn, located in the Cotswold town of Cricklade, near Swindon.
The pub, dating back to the 1600s, will be the brewery’s first pub in Wiltshire. It has five en-suite bedrooms, a beer garden and a micro-brewery.
The company’s estate of tenanted and merged houses comprises 179 pubs, inns and hotels across Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Bristol and the Isles of Scilly.
Steve Worrall, retail director for 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 and beyond… The location of the property is important. Following the acquisition of Bath Ales, we now have a base from which we can look at new geographical areas which have previously been too far away for us to service efficiently.”
Tourism Awards sniffs out dog-friendly pubs
The South West Tourism Awards are launching a new category this summer to find South West England’s Most Dog Friendly Pub of the Year.
The award, supported by Devon-based natural pet food producers Forthglade, will be voted for by the public across the regions of Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and Bristol, Bath & Somerset. The winner from each county then goes head-to-head to compete for the award.
Robin Barker, organiser of the Tourism Awards, said: “We’re really excited to be launching this new award, alongside Forthglade – recognising the region’s pubs that work so hard to make us and our four-legged friends feel so welcome, especially as for so many, our dogs really are part of the family”.
Gerard Lovell, Joint MD of Forthglade, said: “It’s an honour to be teaming up with such a recognised awards body to shine the spotlight on the pubs that throw their doors wide open to our four-legged friends, and this award will hopefully encourage even more pubs to embrace a first-class dog friendly policy.”
Pubs can download free promotional materials from www.forthglade.com/campaigns/dogfriendly/promote-my-pub to encourage their customers to vote for them with a closing date of 18th August 2019.
For further details on the awards contact Rebecca Caradine at Forthglade Natural Pet Food at Rebecca.firstname.lastname@example.org or Robin Barker at South West Tourism Awards at email@example.com.
FOOD AND DRINK NEWS
Bath Ales launch its first gluten-free beer
Bath Ales’ Wild Hare has been officially certified as a gluten-free product by Coeliac UK.
The beer will now carry the ‘crossed grain’ symbol on its neck label, the symbol internationally recognised by those who need to follow a gluten-free diet.
Georgina Young, Bath Ales’ new head brewer said: “We test every batch of Wild Hare for traces of gluten straight after fermentation and before dispatching it to supermarkets. An estimated one in ten people avoid gluten in the UK, so we’re delighted to be expanding our portfolio and creating a beer that everybody is able to enjoy.”
Wild Hare (5% abv) is available from Waitrose stores nationwide and select supermarkets across the South West.
New sustainable coffee capsules
Devon-based Blue Goose Coffee are introducing a new range of speciality, single-origin and organic coffees in plastic-free coffee capsules. Compatible with Nespresso pod machines, the capsules are made from wood bark which turns into compost within 12 weeks. Aluminium and plastic capsules, of which a predicted 52 billion will be produced globally by the end of next year, can take 200-500 years to degrade in a landfill site.
Blue Goose Coffee co-founder Lex Thornely said: “We wanted to prove just how good capsule coffee could and should taste without compromising on our ethical approach to business. So we naturally selected speciality grade coffees for which we pay our growers a premium beyond the Fairtrade Minimum Price.
“By sourcing the highest quality speciality coffee over commodity-grade coffee, our customers get the very best tasting coffee while our farmers earn greater income to re-invest into their livelihoods, ensuring their families, workers and local communities can thrive long into the future.”
Available from Amazon, each coffee costs £18 for 40 biodegradable capsules. For more information about Blue Goose Coffee visit www.bluegoose.coffee.
Dartmoor Brewery’s new keg IPA
Craft ale producer Dartmoor Brewery has launched a new keg IPA that’s designed to be served cold and so is “ideal for summer drinking.”
Based on the brewery’s traditional Dartmoor IPA cask ale, the new beer was first made available at the Dartmoor Brewery Bar at the Devon County Show and received a thumbs up from visitors, according to the brewery.
Dartmoor Brewery MD Richard Smith said: “Our existing Dartmoor IPA cask ale has a loyal following in our Dartmoor heartland, and increasingly outside the region. The new Keg IPA uses the same quality ingredients but is designed to be served chilled, giving an extra level of refreshment and flavour experience. We’ve already had strong interest from our loyal trade customers, particularly with the thought of thirsty Summer days ahead. This new version of our IPA is set to be a hit with existing fans of our beers, and will also bring a fresh new taste of Dartmoor for the thousands of visitors set to flock to the South West over the busy summer period.”
For more details visit www.dartmoorbrewery.co.uk.
Liberation appoints new Butcombe MD and sales director
Channel Island and West Country pub company, The Liberation Group, have announced the appointment of Marc McGuigan as the new managing director and Andrew Cooney as director of sales at Butcombe Brewery.
Marc joins after 12 years at Greene King where he was most recently the business unit director for Greene King’s Local Managed Pubs Division.
Andrew has served as director of business consultancy Trade Intelligence Ltd and head of customer development for SHS Drinks.
The appointments follow Liberation Group’s investment in Butcombe Brewery’s infrastructure for brewing, bottling and kegging.
Jonathan Lawson, CEO of the Liberation Group, said: “These two new appointments mark a new chapter in the development of Butcombe Brewery, and I am delighted to welcome both Marc and Andrew to the business. They are two talented and experienced operators who together will drive the future success of the business and deliver on the Board’s expectations.”
Four-star Southampton hotel gets new GM
Andy Gray has been appointed general manager of the Leonardo Royal Hotel Southampton Grand Harbour.
He joins the Jurys Inn and Leonardo Hotels property with 18 years of experience in the company, most recently at Jurys Inn Watford.
Formerly known as The Grand Harbour Hotel, the 173-room Leonardo Royal Hotel Southampton Grand Harbour became part of the Leonardo Hotels portfolio in January this year.
Jason Carruthers, managing director of Jurys Inn and Leonardo Hotels UK and Ireland said: “Andy has been an asset to the Jurys Inn family for many years and we’re excited to see him take the helm as General Manager at Leonardo Royal Hotel Southampton Grand Harbour. We are confident in Andy’s ability to grow and nurture this hotel as Leonardo Hotels continues to expand its presence in the UK hospitality market.”
Jurassic coast hotel on market at £1.7m
The 16th century Manor House Hotel overlooking Chesil Beach in Dorset has been put on the market with Colliers International for £1.7m.
Featuring 13 ensuite rooms, a four-bedroom private house and two acres of grounds, the property is located in West Bexington, six miles south of Bridport, Dorset. The restaurant has 40 covers and the bar operates as the local pub. A residents lounge can be used for private dining with up to 25 covers.
Ed Jefferson from Colliers International’s hotels team said: “Our clients bought the property in 2010 as a family lifestyle business and set about a comprehensive refurbishment to leave the hotel fit for the next generation. Having updated the business they have decided to place it on the market and explore a well-earned retirement.”
Historic Cotswold inn priced at £1.25m
The Bull Inn in Burford High Street, Oxfordshire, is on the market with Colliers International for £1.25m. The 15th-century coaching inn can boast famous visitors including King Charles II and his mistress Nell Gwynne, and Lord Nelson.
Comprising 18 bedrooms and staff accommodation, The Bull is Grade II listed with “old world charm” including high stone fireplaces in the public areas and some bedrooms. It had sales of £603,000 in the year ending 2018.
Peter Brunt, a hotels director at Colliers International, said: “The 18 rooms provide a solid base for the F&B element, which draws plenty of local as well as one-off visitor custom. Burford remains a mecca for thousands of tourists every year and is easily accessed from London via the M40 and A40 – ideal for the short break business that is becoming increasingly important to the industry.
“Our clients bought the business from Greene King in 2009 and set about a major refurbishment transforming the business into the guest-based business you see today. But after many years in the business have decided on retirement and let new owners take this stunning property forward.”
Rise & Shine Gin Showcase 2019
Discover some of the country’s finest gins as we introduce you to the talented local producers who are making award-winning spirits in the South West. If you already receive Rise & Shine, our Gin Showcase will be arriving in your inbox on Tuesday 25th June. Or subscribe here:
Companies featured include:
Avalon Distillery Company Ltd.
Cornwall Rock Gin
Curio Spirits Company
Exmoor Distillery Ltd
Isle of Wight Distillery
Wicked Wolf Gin
Abel & Imray Food & Drink Brand Event
25th June 2019
4pm – 6.30pm
Yurt Lush, Bristol. BS1 6QH
“Come along and hear a panel discussion from experts in the food & drink sector, ask questions and network over a drink and nibbles with the panel and other food & drink businesses.”
To attend this free event, please register at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/how-do-you-build-a-food-and-drink-brand-that-makes-an-impact-bristol-tickets-60520977874
Hampshire Food Festival
1st – 31st July 2019
Locations across Hampshire
“Organised by local food group Hampshire Fare, the festival celebrates food and drink grown, reared and made in the county with over 100 events showcasing local ingredients and products.”
1st – 2nd July 2019
“Imbibe Live is the innovative and interactive annual exhibition for anyone who sources, buys or serves drinks in the licensed on-trade.”
Real Italian Wine & Food Trade Event
9th July 2019
11am – 6pm
Chelsea Football Club, London
“The Real Italian Wine & Food offers trade professionals an excellent opportunity to establish direct contact with selected producers and traders.”