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Sales dive despite rugby
Britain’s managed pub and restaurant groups saw trading down in October despite the Rugby World Cup. The latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker reveal collective like-for-like sales were down 0.6% in October. Restaurant chains saw collective like-for-likes fall 0.7%, with managed pub and bar groups down 0.6% and London trading lagged behind the rest of the country
“Drink-led pubs did marginally better, with a 0.3% like-for-like increase over the month, but there was no big boost coming from customers wanting to watch the rugby on TV in the bar – probably due to the early morning kick-offs,” said Karl Chessell, director of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Coffer PeachTracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM.
“October is usually a quiet month in the eating and drinking out world – the lull before the Christmas rush – and so it has proved. Essentially, we are continuing to see a flat market. People are still going out, but there is no real growth,” he added.
Saxon Moseley, senior manager at RSM, said, “Against a backdrop of ongoing political and economic uncertainty, together with a wet and windy start to the autumn, operators will be quietly satisfied with like-for-likes that broadly match last year’s numbers. With the starting gun fired on a winter election, hopes will be raised that voters will look to escape the barrage of doorstep campaigners by hot-footing it to their local pubs and restaurants during the all-important festive trading period.”
Coffer Corporate Leisure managing director Mark Sheehan said, “The figures show that businesses outside the M25 did better than those in the Capital. However, it is worth noting that although it looks like London is underperforming, the strength of the London market is being driven by independents not captured by the stats, rather than branded concepts. The eating and drinking out market is relatively stable despite dampened consumer confidence. This is reflecting the combined political and economic uncertainty not seen since the middle of the last century.”
Regionally, businesses outside of London did better than those in the capital, down 0.5% compared to a 0.9% fall inside the M25.
Underlying like-for-like growth for the Tracker cohort, which represents both large and small operators, was running at 1.7% for the 12 months to the end of October, which is just below the 1.8% registered at the end of September.
Halcyon Group sells Bath lounge bar
The leasehold of the Circo Cocktail Bar and Lounge in Bath has been sold by owners The Halcyon Group to a new market entrant.
The business has been acquired by local industry professional Mike Philips in a deal brokered by Christie & Co.
Occupying a Georgian basement, Circo was recently voted Best Bar in bath 2019 by Bath Life magazine.
Mike said, “This is an exciting time for Circo and for Bath. It’s as important as ever to continually adapt to the city’s ever-changing and evolving tastes, and I am looking forward to working with my team to bring in new ideas and maximise this unique venue’s great potential. We will be overhauling our cocktail menu over the coming weeks and introducing a variety of new brands to our bars, such as Asahi. We are also changing our opening hours so that we are catering to a wider demographic during the week. I am confident that these improvements alongside a long list of other changes we are planning to implement, will only reinforce Circo’s reputation as the Best Bar in Bath.”
Bath, Bristol and Somerset Tourism Awards
The winners have been announced for this year’s Bristol, Bath and Somerset Tourism Awards. Over 100 tourism businesses attended the ceremony at Bristol Marriott City Centre Hotel on 21st November 2019.
The big winner on the night was Barley Wood, Wrington (part of YMCA Dulverton Group) which won Gold in the Wedding Venue of the Year and Tourism Innovation Award categories and then went on to be named Winner of Winners.
The Roman Baths & Pump Room, Bath also had a good night winning Accessible and Inclusive Tourism Award, International Tourism Award, and Large Visitor Attraction of the Year. Other Gold winners were Wild Wookey, Wells (Active and Sporting Experience Award), Railway Cottage Holidays, Wilton (Age-Friendly Tourism Business of the Year), Assembly Rooms, Bath (Business Events Venue of the Year), The Blitz Tearoom, Weston-super-Mare (Café/Tearoom of the Year), Mill on the Brue Outdoor Activity Centre, Bruton (Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable Tourism Award), The Wheatsheaf, Bath (Forthglade Dog Friendly Pub of the year), Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa, Colerne (Large Hotel of the Year), Sweet Cumin, Radstock (Learning Experience of the Year), The Litton, Near Wells (Pub of the Year), Menu Gordon Jones, Bath and The Olive Tree Restaurant, Bath (Restaurant/Bistro of the Year), The Pig near Bath (Small Hotel of the Year), and ESPA at Lucknam Park, Colerne (Spa and Wellbeing Experience of the Year).
Awards organiser Nell Barrington said, “It has been such a privilege to celebrate with these talented tourism businesses that are showcasing the excellent tourism offer we have in Somerset, Bristol and Bath, congratulations to them all.”
For the full list of winners, go to www.somersettourismawards.org.uk/2019-winners
Dartmoor Brewery offers “100 casks for 100 causes”
South West producer Dartmoor Brewery has launched a new charity initiative with the donation of 100 casks of their Jail Ale to 100 worthy causes.
They are inviting charity and community event organisers to apply for one of the 100 casks, which they can use to help raise funds for their cause with a fund-raising event.
Dartmoor Brewery MD Ian Cobham said: “We take huge pride in brewing great beers right here on Dartmoor, and this new initiative gives us the opportunity to put a bit more back into the community and to support local charities which do such an amazing job.”
The company say all applications will be considered, with priority given to those which “would benefit causes on Dartmoor or in Devon, and which promote community well-being, public safety, outdoor lifestyle and responsible drinking.”
Bids for the free casks of Jail Ale can be submitted online at www.dartmoorbrewery.co.uk/apply.
Salcombe Gin partners with MCS
Salcombe Distilling Co. (SDCo) have announced a partnership between Salcombe Gin and the Marine Conservation Society (MCS).
Starting in November 2019, they have pledged to donate £1 to MCS for every purchase made through their website, distillery shop and at events during the Christmas period.
Howard Davies co-founder of Salcombe Distilling Co. said: “The team and I at SDCo. have made several changes throughout the business to support the environment and ensure we are operating sustainably. In addition to this, we want to have a positive impact well beyond Salcombe and the reach of our business. This partnership with the Marine Conservation Society gives us this opportunity to support change on a global scale.”
Katharine Sharp, corporate partnerships manager at MCS said: “We’re really excited to be working with Salcombe Distilling Company and to be receiving vital donations from their pre-Christmas sales which will help support our important conservation work. Based on the coast, the staff are fully aware of the importance of clean and healthy seas have on their community. We commend their plans around sustainability, such as refilling empties, more sustainable packaging and using compostable plant-based materials for tasting cups at events, and hope others in the industry will follow their lead.”
Bath Ales hires first brewing apprentices
For the first time in its 24-year history, Bath Ales are welcoming two new brewing apprentices to its team.
Ella Jones (22) and Rob Alder (23) overcame fierce competition to land their roles on the two-year apprenticeship scheme at Hare Brewery, in Warmley, near Bristol. They were selected for “their creative flair, desire to learn and passion for beer.” The pair – who have both experimented with home brewing in the past – will be learning the craft of brewing and helping to produce Bath Ales favourites, including Gem and Sulis.
As well as gaining hands-on experience, the apprentices will develop their technical knowledge with training sessions at Nottingham University where they will complete a Level 4 qualification, the equivalent of the first year of a bachelor’s degree. The new course, which launched in February 2019, is the first of its kind in the UK. It was founded by a “trailblazer group of passionate brewers”, including Bath Ales’ head brewer, Georgina Young, and the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA).
Asked about becoming one of the first apprentices, Ella said: “It’s incredible! I feel so privileged to have been given this opportunity and be working alongside the Bath Ales team. I’m looking forward to learning more about the art of brewing, as well as visiting other breweries and hop farms across the UK.”
Georgina Young said: “We’re delighted to be welcoming Rob and Ella to our team. It’s so important that we offer high-quality training opportunities and look to nurture the next generation of talent within the beer industry.
“Apprenticeships are a great foot in the door for people wanting to work in brewing, so we’re really happy to be able to offer this opportunity here at Bath Ales.”
Third Bocabar opens at Bristol’s Finzels Reach
Bristol and Glastonbury-based restaurant/bar Bocabar is opening its third site at Finzels Reach, the new mixed-use development built on the waterside site of the old Courage Brewery in Bristol.
Opening on 28th November, the new restaurant will be overseen by Jason McNeilly, head chef at Bocabar’s Paintworks, Bristol site. He will be joined by head chef Jacob Norris, previously head chef at the Spotted Cow and the Sheppy Inn in Godney, and Ben Sacree, head pizza chef, previously head pizza chef at B-Block.
Owner Melissa Eavis said: “We’re ecstatic to be so close to opening our exciting new restaurant and bar at Finzels Reach and we can’t wait to welcome everyone in to try it out. We’ve brought together the ‘best bits’ of our Paintworks and Glastonbury restaurants to develop a truly unique menu.
Opening seven days a week, Bocabar will have seating for up to 100 covers and offer breakfast, lunch and dinner, including a menu of small and big plates focusing on small, local suppliers’ seasonal produce, a selection of 20 pizzas as well as burgers and salads. There will also be some Christmas specials for lunch and evening diners.
FOOD AND DRINK NEWS
Sharp’s Cornish Winter
Cornwall-based Sharp’s Brewery is launching Cornish Winter, the fifth and last of its 2019 limited edition beers in November.
A 4% ABV seasonal take on their Cornish Stout from 2011, it’s the first milk stout to be released by the brewery, they deserve it as “full-bodied, dark… with rich chocolate and coffee flavours and a smooth finish.”
Head brewer, 30-year-old Aaron McClure, who was promoted to his role earlier this year, said: “This is the first milk stout we have produced here at Sharp’s. We have used our combined technical knowledge as a brewing team, along with the experience we have gained from developing beers on our pilot brew kit, the ‘adventure lab’, to produce a smooth and deep stout. A careful balance of flaked oats and lactose have been selected to create the smooth and sweet mouthfeel, which, along with the finest quality speciality chocolate and crystal malts, provides that dark character we love in stouts. Our Sharp’s ale yeast gives a clean aroma profile, and warming finish which is perfect for the cold winter months.”
Available at selected locations until the end of December or online from Sharp’s at https://www.sharpsbrewery.co.uk/sharps/shop.
Drury launches blend for takeaway trade
The Drury Tea & Coffee Company have launched a new breakfast blend teabag designed for takeaway outlets thanks to its quick brewing properties. Gunwharf Breakfast Blend is named after the Arsenal development in Woolwich, where Drury has its manufacturing base.
The strongest blend in the company’s five-strong Breakfast range, it has a mix of larger leaf and fine leaf teas to “deliver strength with flavour.” Including tea from Africa, Sri Lanka, India and Rwanda, the pyramid-shaped bag brews in a 12oz takeaway cup in 30-45 seconds (with some stirring) so won’t keep takeaway customers waiting too long.
Drury Managing Director, Marco Olmi, said: “We are aware of the timing constraints that takeaway businesses operate under and we wanted to create a tea blend that would infuse quickly, but at the same time deliver body and taste. It really does brew very fast without compromising on the depth of flavour.”
Gunwharf Blend is available in catering packs of 100 with a list price of £16.20. It is also packed in bulk packs of 1000 priced at £107. Visit www.drurycoffee.com.
New GM for Bovey Castle
Claire Randall has been announced as the new general manager of the five-star Bovey Castle in Dartmoor, Devon.
She will join them in January 2020 from The Idle Rocks and St Mawes hotel in Cornwall where she was for six months. Before that, she had been managing director at Lucknam Park, near Bath since 2010.
Owned and operated by the Eden Hotel Collection, the 60-bedroom Bovey Castle has been run by resort director Greg Fehler since the departure of previous general manager Martin Kelly earlier this year.
Randall said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be joining Bovey Castle in Dartmoor – one of the UK’s most iconic luxury country house hotels – which provides a wide range of experiences to guests coupled with hospitality of the highest quality.”
Bovey Castle has 22 lodges, a championship golf course, Elan Spa and 2 AA Rosette restaurant and accounts for 40% of the Eden group’s overall turnover.
New head chef for Stein’s Seafood restaurant
Pete Murt has been appointed head chef of Rick and Jill Stein’s flagship Seafood Restaurant in Padstow, Cornwall.
Murt was born in Padstow and joined the group as a kitchen porter at St Petroc’s Bistro in 2000. He worked his way through the ranks as part of Stein’s chef apprentice academy. He left to work at the two-Michelin-starred Hibiscus in London before rejoining to help launch Rick Stein, Sandbanks in 2015.
Rick Stein said: “Pete comes from the large Padstow family of Murts many of whom have supplied us with seafood over the years so I’ve known Pete even before he started working for us as a very young kitchen porter and have watched his development over the years into a first-class chef. His first head chef’s job had been at our restaurant in Sandbanks and now the Seafood Restaurant, I’m really looking forward to working with him back in Padstow.”
Murt replaces long-standing Seafood Restaurant head chef Stephane Delourme. He has taken a group chef position and will be focused on training the next generation of the company’s chefs across the group’s 12 Stein restaurants.
New head chef for The Idle Rocks
Dorian Janmaat will take on the role of head chef at The Idle Rocks in St Mawes, Cornwall. He will take over from Guy Owen, who is departing after four-and-a-half years in the role.
Janmaat will join the 19-bedroom, waterfront hotel and sister property the St Makes Hotel, when it opens after a winter refurbishment in February 2020. He was previously at Raymond Blanc’s two-Michelin-starred Le Manoir aux Quat‘Saisons for eight years, the last three as head chef.
He said: “I am really looking forward to bringing all that I have learnt from Gary Jones, executive head chef and Raymond, one of the industries greatest mentors, back to the county I grew up in. My ambition is to capture the local surroundings with each plate simple, pure and straight from the source. I’ll be building a new brigade in St Mawes and welcome interest from passionate and enthusiastic chefs interested in joining me”.
Register now for The Source
Registration for the 2020 Source trade show is now open! The Source is the South West’s biggest and best trade show for the food & drink sector, taking place Wednesday 5th & Thursday 6th February at Westpoint, Exeter. This food and drink show is packed with passionate producers, and all the latest innovations and ideas for your food or hospitality business. If you have a serious interest in speciality foods, quality drinks, profitable catering and inspired hospitality, then put the Source trade show in your diary now. For your free entry ticket please click here.
INDUSTRY EVENTS 2019
HOSPACE Conference and Exhibition 2019
28th November 2019
The Royal Lancaster Hotel, London
“HOSPACE is a one-day annual conference and exhibition hosted by HOSPA, the Hospitality Professionals Association.”
For ticket information, visit https://www.hospace-bookings.co.uk/
Food Drink Devon
Growth and Innovation Workshop 28th November 2019
9am – 1pm
Exeter Golf and Country Club
“An interactive workshop designed to help your business to grow and be more innovative. You will learn about how good leadership and brand experience can benefit growth and innovation as well as the invaluable ways to help your business to grow and succeed.”
For ticket information, visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/growth-and-innovation-breakfast-workshop-tickets-76747914077?ref=estw
Devon Tourism Awards Ceremony
28th November 2019
The Riviera International Conference Centre, Torquay
“The prestigious tourism awards ceremony, following a record 240 entries from across Devon.”
For more information & to book tickets, please visit