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Pub and restaurants maintain summer momentum
Britain’s managed pub and restaurant groups saw collective like-for-like sales up 1.6% in August compared to the same time last year, with drink-led pubs performing best. The latest figures from Coffer Peach Business Tracker show drink-led pubs and bars up 4.1% on the back of the late-August heatwave.
“The weather, as is often the case, played a big part in shaping sales, with the hot weather in the run-up to and during the bank holiday weekend boosting pub trading and suppressing restaurant sales,” said Karl Chessell, director of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM.
“The good news is that, even with the uneven effect of the weather, the underlying performance was 1.6% up on last August, following growth of 1.2% in July,” Chessell added.
“These are solid numbers generally with pub sales again outperforming restaurants partly helped by the weather. Consumer habits are changing fast especially in the restaurant sector, evidenced by The Restaurant Group announcing that they are to close up to half of their mainstream restaurants over time. Until recently these were seen as the best portfolio of sites in the market and demonstrates the difficulties being experienced by many restaurant chains,” said Mark Sheehan, managing director at Coffer Corporate Leisure. “Only the exceptional are performing well. The pub sector, by contrast, is resilient. Pubs are generally unbranded and don’t suffer from the often-limited lifespan a brand may face.”
Managed pub groups recorded like-for-like sales growth of 2.4% for the month, with drink-led sites ahead 4.1%. “Drinking pubs in London were the ones that really benefitted from the mini-heatwave, with a 5.0% like-for-like boost,” observed Chessell.
Pub groups saw drink sales up 3.8% over the month, with food sales marginally down 0.1%.
Restaurant groups had a more subdued month, following a good July, with collective like-for-like trading down, but only by 0.2%.
Paul Newman, RSM’s head of leisure and hospitality, said: “Despite ongoing political uncertainty and with the UK on the cusp of a recession, Britain’s drink-led pubs had much to cheer in August with sales buoyed by the long, hot days that ended the summer. The news for restaurants was less upbeat as consumers look to balance their household budgets by cutting back on eating out. With underlying costs outpacing top line growth, we fear some food operators will struggle to meet upcoming quarterly rent bills which could lead to further casualties in the UK mid-market dining sector.”
Total sales across all companies in the Tracker, which include the effect of net new openings since this time last year, were ahead 4.3% compared to last August.
Taste of the West award winners
This year’s Taste of the West awards were held in the Great Hall at Exeter University on Thursday 12th September.
The winner in the No. 1 Place to Go in the South West category was The Langaller Manor House B&B, in Taunton, Somerset. Best South West Restaurant went to Twenty Seven by Jamie Rogers, Kingsbridge, Devon and Best Hotel to Boskerris Hotel in St Ives, Cornwall.
On the products side of the accolades, the Reserve Supreme Champion went to Cornwall’s Moo Milk which the judges described as a fantastic initiative by an individual farm to convert a commodity product-milk into a consumer savvy brand. South West Producer of the Year was BV Dairy in Shaftesbury, Dorset.
The Supreme Champion Product award went to Natural Branscombe for their innovative approach to Salad production. The judging panel said… “over the course of two judging days, we just kept coming back to it. You can pick out individual flavours from each and every leaf and flower tasted, it was so fresh and enticing and we thought that both the Supreme Champion and the Reserve reminded us of what good quality food products can taste like when produced naturally but with care and attention to taste”.
John Sheaves, chief executive of Taste of the West said: “The region’s food industry is one of our main industry sectors, but it is more than that – it links directly with our primary producers here, but of course with our foodservice and retail sectors too – it is the perfect condiment to both… whatever the outcome of Brexit, the region was well placed now to offer the world a fantastic broad range of food and drink which is provenance based, top quality, healthy and sustainably produced”.
For a full list of winners go to www.tasteofthewest.co.uk
Top London chef picks Somerset for his new restaurant
Chef Merlin Labron-Johnson, formerly of Michelin-starred Portland in Fitzrovia, is leaving London to open a “tiny farm-to-table” restaurant in rural Somerset.
The chef has yet to announce the location, name or any hotel partnership. He wrote on Instagram: “I am very excited to announce that in November I will be opening a tiny farm-to-table restaurant in the heart of rural Somerset.
“We will serve a little menu of home grown organic vegetables and products sourced from friends in the surrounding villages. There will be gorgeous bedrooms, fine cider and lovely wine.”
Labron-Johnson will continue in his role as a consultant for the Conduit, the private members club-restaurant in London’s Mayfair. He left the Woodhead Restaurant Group last October where he served as executive chef of both Portland and another of the group’s restaurants, Clipstone.
New Pig hotel opening next year
The Pig-at Harlyn Bay is scheduled to open in June 2020 in one of Cornwall’s most historic houses. The Grade II listed mansion is located outside the village of Harlyn near Constantine Bay beaches and Trevose golf course.
CEO Robin Hutson says, “This is amongst the very best coastal settings anywhere in Cornwall with immediate access to a beautiful and immensely sought after part of the North Cornish coastline with some of the county’s most celebrated beaches a stone’s throw from the hotel.”
The “restaurant with rooms” will have 11 bedrooms in the main building, a further 15 bedrooms in the stables and 4 shepherd’s huts on the way to the kitchen garden which will inspire what’s on the seasonal menu.
This Pig hotel will also have the Pig Sty situated to the left of the main drive. It will serve flatbreads and grills from its wood-fired oven and barbecue and come complete with outdoor showers for surfers returning from the beach.
Rooms will start from £155 per room per night.
Good Food Guide celebrates South West
The latest Good Food Guide has named a host of South West restaurants in its latest edition, published on 12th September.
New entrants from the region include Tremenheere Kitchen in Cornwall; The Royal George and Ode True Food in Devon; Betony by Matthew Tomkinson, The Methuen Arms and The Bunch of Grapes in Wiltshire; Somerset’s The Garden Café, Todays Menu and Bistro Lotte; and Bristol’s Gambas.
The highest ranked restaurant from the South West is Restaurant Nathan Outlaw in Port Isaac, Cornwall, at number three. Other eateries in the top 50 include Casamia in Bristol (9), Cheltenham’s Le Champignon Sauvage (24), Whatley Manor in Wiltshire (30), Paul Ainsworth at No. 6 in Padstow (40) and Wilks in Bristol (42).
Elizabeth Carter, Waitrose Good Food Guide editor, said: “There is something magnificently unadulterated about Nathan Outlaw’s cooking and the modest elegance of his restaurant at the top of pretty Port Isaac.
“Here, there is neither pomp nor circumstance, there’s no swagger nor showmanship, nothing gratingly theatrical – although the view does deserve a standing ovation.
“What brings diners back time and again is the way Outlaw and his team take superlative ingredients, and handle them with respectful lightness and a touch of ingenuity to create plates of seafood in a four-course set menu that diners won’t forget.”
FOOD AND DRINK NEWS
Harvest Gin launched for autumn
New Cornish distillery Rosemullion will launch its award-winning Harvest Gin to the public in October.
Made in 200 bottle batches in a copper still, the gin is flavoured with apple, plum, raspberry, blackberry and sloe. The gin’s botanicals include juniper, coriander, angelica root, liquorice and black pepper. It recently won gold at the SIP Awards.
Andy Bradbury, the co-founder of Rosemullion Distillery, said: “We were thrilled to win a gold award for a trial batch of our Harvest Gin at the SIP Awards earlier this year, and we’re even more excited to launch it to the public in October.
“There’s a real appetite for high-quality spirits which use locally-sourced, humble ingredients. Our approach here was to create a beautifully flavoured gin that captures the spirit of autumn in Cornwall.”
Rosemullion claims to be “one of a very small number of distilleries to create its own base spirit from scratch, rather than simply flavouring purchased industrial spirits.”
In addition to the Harvest Gin winning gold, Rosemullion Distillery came away with a gold award for its Summer Gin, silver for its Gold Rum, and bronze for its Dry Gin. For more information about Rosemullion Distillery, visit www.rosemulliondistillery.com.
Salcombe Brewery’s first small batch brew
Salcombe Brewery Co. are launching Hop Garden, the first of its small-batch brews, in October. The green hopped ale will available while stocks last on draught in pubs across the country and in bag-in-boxes from their brewery shop. The brewers say the exact flavour of the 4% ABV amber ale created with green hops fresh from the fields “will only be revealed on tasting day but will be a pale and refreshing ale that packs a citrusy punch.”
Head Brewer, Sam Beaman comments: “I am incredibly excited by this single batch beer which we will be created using green hops fresh from the field. The hops will be collected the day before being brewed so the result is a hop flavour as fresh as can be. From field to glass within a fortnight! We are only creating one batch so beer aficionados wanting to try something a little different will need to be quick off the mark too.”
For further information, visit www.salcombebrewery.com.
New Chilli Farm chocolate flavours
South Devon Chilli Farm have given their chilli chocolate range a fresh look and introduced two new flavours – Flaked Sea Salt and Roasted Cocoa Nibs.
They join Honeycomb, Original, Orange, and Fruit and Spice in the range. All of the chocolates are now presented in eye-catching colourful boxes which are supplied in “shelf-ready” cases with a tear-off top that can be placed on display straight away.
“We’re super excited about our chilli chocolate range. We think the boxes will look great on the shelves and attract lots of attention from customers.” said Kaz Lobendhan, trade director. “We’re especially thrilled about joining forces with our South West friends, Cornish Sea Salt, to create a flavourful partnership of chocolate, chilli and salt”.
South Devon Chilli Farm Chilli Chocolates are available in smart boxes at an RRP of £3.80 (trade price: £2.10 + VAT per 80g unit). For further information, contact email@example.com or call 01548 550782.
Christie & Co to sell Exeter’s Royal Clarence
Specialist business property adviser, Christie & Co have been appointed to sell the development site that was formerly the Royal Clarence Hotel in Exeter, Devon.
The site has planning permission for a new 74 bedroom hotel to replace the landmark hotel that was all but destroyed in a fire in October 2016.
Christie & Co are seeking unconditional offers for the freehold interest of the site.
Shepton Mallet inn for auction
The Prestleigh Inn, near Shepton Mallet, Somerset, is up for auction with a guide price of £225,000 to £250,000 through Charles Darrow.
The inn adjoins the Royal Bath & West Showground on the busy A371, set in approximately half an acre with a large beer garden, kids play area and two car parks. The property is arranged as a public house with a restaurant of approximately 50 covers. In addition to the five en-suite letting rooms, there is a large two bedroom owners flat.
The property has an elevated position offering panoramic views over the showground, which hosts events throughout the year.
The property will be offered at Charles Darrow’s London auction on 10th October.
East Devon country pub for sale
The Digger’s Rest pub is on the market for the first time in 12 years with a freehold guide price of £625,000.
Located five miles from Exeter in the village of Woodbury Salterton, the 500-year-old Grade II listed property is described by agents Charles Darrow as a “local way of life”.
Currently owned by Heartstone Inns pub group is has received significant investment including a recent replacement of the thatched roof.
Featuring a lounge bar and restaurant with two fireplaces, it has seating for 40 in the main bar, 25 in the local’s bar and 45 covers in the function room and side restaurant.
According to the agents, “The property has been sensitively modernised throughout. Retaining many period features, the exposed wooden beams, low ceilings, and stripped wooden floors all add to The Digger’s unique atmosphere.”
There is also an enclosed beer garden to the rear and self-contained owner’s accommodation with two double bedrooms.
Charles Darrow director, Jon Clyne, comments “We are delighted to be instructed by Heartstone Inns to act on their behalf on this sale, following a strategic review of the site. The pub really is a gem of a freehold property and fits very much in the ‘quintessential English pub remit’. We are already receiving some positive interest, with viewing days being held.”.
New GM for Jurys Inn Plymouth
Jurys Inn and Leonardo Hotels have announced the appointment of George Graham as the new general manager at Jurys Inn Plymouth.
He joins them from overseeing operations at the Crowne Plaza in Belfast as general manager. He has over 13 years of experience in the Northern Irish hospitality industry including eight years managing the Roe Park Resort and a spell at the Ballykisteen Golf Hotel & Spa.
Jason Carruthers, Managing Director of Jurys Inn and Leonardo Hotels UK and Ireland said: “George has a proven track record in hotel management and years of experience delivering an excellent service to customers. Ensuring that each and every customer has a comfortable and happy stay is at the heart of what we do at Jurys Inn Plymouth, and we are confident that George will work with the team to further drive this as the new general manager.”
INDUSTRY EVENTS 2019
HABC L3 Food Allergy Training Course by Food Allergy Aware
17th September 2019
Haskins Garden Centre, Southampton. SO18 3HW
“This qualification is aimed at individuals responsible for the purchase, delivery, production and serving of food in the catering industry and is also suitable for those who own/manage a small catering business.”
For more information and to book, visit https://www.fatc.co.uk/events/highfield-habc-level-3-award-in-food-allergen-training-management-sept/
Hospitality Design Show
18th-19th September 2019
“The Leading hospitality event for design trends, ideas and innovations.”
18th-19th September 2019
“The UK’s Leading Hospitality Event Dedicated to Improving Your Hotel Profitability.”
Hotel Facilities Management Expo 2019
18th-19th September 2019
“Transform the way you manage your hotel facilities.”
Hotel & Spa Tech Live
18th-19th September 2019
“Connecting hotels & spas with the technology of tomorrow.”
Food Drink Devon Zero Waste Breakfast Workshop
19th September 2019
Exeter Golf and Country Club
“If you are conscious about the amount of waste your company produces each year this workshop is for you. The workshop will include presentations from Less Plastic UK, Circular Food from the University of Exeter, Old Mill and Two Drifters Brewery and Distillery.”
To find out more and book tickets, please visit
19th–20th September 2019
“A unique trade show that brings together the entire food-to-go industry under one roof.”
The Restaurant Show
30th September – 2nd October 2019
“A unique trade event that brings together the best of the hospitality industry.”