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Coronavirus hits restaurants and pubs
Out-of-home food and drink sales were down 3.3% in February as the growing coronavirus crisis and the effects of floods hit Britain’s managed pub, bar and restaurant sector according to the latest data from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker.
Like-for-like sales across the sector fell 3.3% compared to February last year, with managed pubs, restaurants and bars all suffering declines. Managed pub groups saw collective like-for-like sales fall 4.2%, with restaurant groups down 1.8% and bar chains down 2.8%.
“The month started with flooding hitting sales in parts of the country, with pubs and restaurants actually closed in some areas. But as the month progressed, the impact of the developing coronavirus emergency began to take its toll on business – and we can only expect that will have an increasingly negative impact on sales in coming months. The weekly results for the last week in February showed like-for-like sales down 4.4%. We know that members of the cohort will be watching the weekly results closely to track the market performance through these uncertain times,” said Karl Chessell, business unit director of Food & Retail at CGA.
“It is impossible to predict how bad the effect of the coronavirus emergency will be on the market longer term, but as CGA’s snap poll of industry leaders last week showed, operators are expecting major disruption. All we can say from these figures is that all parts of the business are being affected, and the worst is probably yet to come,” added Chessell.
Trevor Watson, executive director, Valuations at Davis Coffer Lyons, said, “The exceptionally wet weather last month was always going to adversely affect turnover for most operators which wasn’t helped by Valentine’s Day falling on a Friday depriving operators of a good midweek day.
“As to the Coronavirus effect, regardless of the real level of medical risk, the public is changing its behaviour, hitting city centres and travel hubs the hardest. Operators biggest fear is on staff infection which would necessitate complete closure. Paradoxically, local pubs and restaurants might see trade sustained as people stay local – people will not shut themselves away indefinitely and will see smaller-scale local pubs and restaurants as less of a health risk. This will undoubtedly lead to a re-distribution of trade. It is good to see that the Government has decided to act decisively in supporting businesses in various ways. The suspension of rates for smaller businesses this year will be well received but these changes are of limited benefit to larger businesses,” Watson concluded.
Paul Newman, head of Leisure and Hospitality at RSM, said, “At the beginning of the month, it seemed that the government’s new immigration proposals following Brexit would be the next big challenge for the sector. These proposals have been swiftly eclipsed by the social and economic disruption from coronavirus. The latest industry like-for-likes point to the start of a prolonged period of falling sales for restaurant and bar businesses. The leisure and hospitality sector will welcome the support announced in yesterday’s Budget to deal with what could be a massive hit to short-term cash flows.”
Independent caters secure £10m contract
South West-based independent caters, Fosters Event Catering, have won a £10m, five-year contract to provide catering at Plymouth’s new culture and heritage centre, The Box.
Fosters fought off fierce competition against global contract caters to meet The Box’s foodservice requirements. Links within Plymouth were said to be a key factor in securing the deal. Fosters “already has deep links within the city” and caters for the University of Plymouth’s annual graduation ceremony.
Neil Lodge, chief executive of Fosters Event Catering, says: “We are delighted to have secured a long-term partnership with The Box. High-quality South West produce, ethical values and conscientious procurement is vital to our independent family business, all qualities that we know The Box shares.”
Tudor Evans OBE, leader for Plymouth City Council says: “We’ve invested a lot of money here, as have the Arts Council and English Heritage and it’s a game-changer for Plymouth. We needed to also raise the bar on the catering side because a facility of this magnificence needs catering of the highest quality.
“We are so excited to be working with Fosters Events Catering who won the opportunity despite very serious competition. And so we recognise their quality, that they have worked in Plymouth, will employ local staff, use local produce and that they will care about sustainability and the environment; these are all vital things. I couldn’t be happier to have Fosters with us for the opening of The Box and for years to come.”
The past year has been the most successful in Fosters Events’ 60-year history, with 2019/20 sales wins of more than £17.5 million over the next five years. The company has recently secured a £7.5 million deal with Gloucestershire County Cricket Club.
Lucky Onion founder launches new hotel brand
Julian Dunkerton, the co-founder of Cotswold hotel group Lucky Onion as well as fashion giant Superdry, has announced plans to launch Cult Hotels this spring.
The brand will have a focus on design and the local area and look to repurpose characterful older buildings. Hotels will offer automatic check-in and pantries for guests. Ambitious growth plans see the brand in popular UK cities and beyond over the next few years.
The George in Cheltenham will be the first opening. It’s made up of five refurbished grade II-listed Regency townhouses transformed into a 46-bedroom hotel.
Julian Dunkerton said: “The name Cult Hotels is a nod to my history and where it all began for me, naturally Cheltenham is home to the flagship hotel – The George. As an entrepreneur, I identified a gap in the market to create a new hotel concept that is accessible, approachable and cool. Cult Hotels exists for the savvy traveller who values aesthetic and culture at a fair price. My ambition with this venture is to continue to breathe new life into old buildings and bring a game-changing hotel concept to the marketplace.”
The Lucky Onion currently consists of five properties; No. 131, and No. 38 The Park, in Cheltenham, as well as The Wheatsheaf, and restaurants The Tavern and The Wild Duck.
St Austell Brewery opens Paignton pub
St Austell Brewery has opened the Harbour Light in Paignton after a six-month restoration. The two-storey development includes a new bar and dining area, a coffee shop and an outdoor seating area overlooking the harbour.
The new pub forms part of Torbay Council’s Port Masterplan, promoted by the Torbay Harbour Committee, to upgrade and enhance the historic harbourside area for residents and visitors to Paignton. St Austell Brewery was given a 90-year lease on the Harbour Light, which TDA hopes “will lead the way in terms of improving the harbour’s vibrancy, attracting further investment in Torbay and generating job opportunities.”
Steve Worrall, managing director of St Austell Brewery’s pubs, inns and hotels said: “We’re delighted that the Harbour Light is now officially open.
“Having worked closely with the town council, harbour committee and TDA throughout the restoration, we’re so proud of the finished result – a family-friendly venue, in an amazing position with unrivalled views across the harbour. It’s perfect for people looking to recharge and refuel, whether they’re taking a break from a sailing trip, exploring the town, or taking a walk along Paignton’s seafront.”
Butcombe relaunches rural pub
Butcombe Pubs & Inns have opened The Swan Inn in Rowberrow, Somerset after a major renovation. The pub, dating back to the 1700s, now offers nine new bedrooms overlooking the Brecon Batch and Mendip Hills.
The bedrooms “blend luxurious soft furnishings, rich in colour and soft to the touch, with a traditional country-inspired colour palette designed to bring a sense of the outdoors in.” Each room features wi-fi, Roberts radios, rain head showers, mini-fridges stocked with local treats, smart TVs, and complimentary Bramley botanicals.
The Swan Inn features a new lounge for guests, complete with an honesty bar “equipped with healthy, energy-packed snacks such as homemade granola bars and filtered water”. Dogs are welcome in the pub and selected bedrooms with special beds, doggie treats and sausage breakfast.
Jayson Perfect, managing director of Pubs and Inns at Liberation Group, says: “The Swan is a beloved country pub, a hub of the community, serving hearty food and proper beers. It’s so rewarding to see the development since we took ownership in 2018 and we can’t wait to welcome the locals and our first overnight guests to experience The Swan’s new offering.”
The Swan is the seventh addition to the growing Butcombe Pub & Inns collection, part of the Liberation Group, in the last three years.
Sharpham Wine wins international award
Devon-based Sharpham Wine picked up the award for the best UK Traditional Method Sparkling Wine for its Sparkling Pink 2016 at the Bollicini del Mondo held in Verona, Italy last month.
Head winemaker Duncan Schwab said: “Our Sparkling Pink is made entirely from Pinot Noir grapes picked at our sister vineyard at Sandridge Barton on the left bank of the River Dart. We’re delighted to have achieved this recognition for our wine, we knew it was a cracker and this has confirmed our thoughts. We’re excited about the continued development of high-quality wines from the Dart Valley.”
Sharpham’s Sparkling Pink has an RRP of £27 per bottle and is available from www.sharpham.com.
SW Tourism Awards open for entries
The 2020/21 South West Tourism Excellence Awards have opened for entry and the organisers are inviting businesses across the region to start their submissions.
The Awards cover the whole of the South West – including Wiltshire and Gloucestershire – with feeder county schemes for Bristol, Bath and Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall.
Last year saw 771 entries across the region with categories covering the full range of tourism-related businesses including pubs, cafes and restaurants as well as accommodation, attractions and events. There are also generic categories for ‘unsung heroes’, innovation, new businesses, dog-friendly, accessibility and sustainability.
Awards organiser Robin Barker said: “It’s always great to hear from entrants what a positive change the awards can bring. To help everyone submit their best entry we are running a series of workshops across the South West and I look forward to seeing many businesses there. Our top tip is to start preparing now, giving yourself time to consider all categories and liaising with colleagues before clicking the SUBMIT button.”
Full details of the awards are at www.southwesttourismawards.org.uk. All entries must be submitted online by 26 April.
FOOD AND DRINK NEWS
Bath Ales and Blackpit launch new pale ale
Bath Ales and Blackpit Brewery have collaborated on a new limited-edition pale ale ‘Good Hare Day’ in support of Brewgooder’s Global Gathering campaign.
All profits from the sale of the 4% ABV ale will be donated to sustainable development projects in Malawi.
The Brewgooder Global Gathering – set up by charitable craft brewer, Brewgooder – is a worldwide mission to provide clean water for one million people. Over 250 breweries from 24 different countries have joined the campaign, each brewing their own limited-edition beer. The brews will be collectively launched on World Water Day (Friday 20th March).
Each brewery taking part in the collaborative campaign has committed to raising at least £500 for the Brewgooder Foundation, which will support rehabilitation and construction projects. Bath Ales and Blackpit have set themselves a combined target of £1,200 – which they hope to surpass – enough to purchase a clean water well for a village.
Georgina Young, head brewer at Bath Ales said: “We are really delighted to be partnering with Blackpit Brewery and using our shared passion for beer, to help make a difference. It was great to be invited to their brewery in Buckingham to collaborate with them on the brew – it was a fantastic day.
“All of the proceeds raised from Good Hare Day will go directly to the Brewgooder Foundation and provide access to a safe source of clean water for thousands of Malawians. We’d love to sell as many pints of Good Hare Day as we possibly can this World Water Day!”
Ben Williams, director at Blackpit Brewery said: “It’s been a real pleasure working with the crew from Bath Ales. To be able to draw on the wealth of knowledge and experience that Georgina in particular possesses has been a real highlight for us and we can’t wait to taste the finished product!”
Good Hare Day will be available in Hare Brewery’s taproom, and select pubs in the Bath and Bristol region, from Friday 20th March.
For more information about the Brewgooder Global Gathering visit: https://www.brewgooder.com/our-blog/brewgooder-global-gathering-2020
New Forest launch Blackberry Clotted Cream
New Forest Ice Cream has announced the introduction of Blackberry Clotted Cream into the company’s real dairy scoop range. Foodservice professionals “can now satisfyingly scoop Blackberry Clotted Cream into sundaes and cones, or serve it as a final flourish to a whole range of desserts.”
Christina Veal, director, New Forest Ice Cream said: “This flavour has proven a big hit in our 120ml range and we have had numerous requests to launch it in our catering range. Now, all caterers and chefs can make the most of serving our Blackberry Clotted Cream on menus throughout the spring and summer. Blackberry Clotted Cream flavour offers a complete taste of nostalgia and we hope it transports everyone back to blackberry picking on a warm summer’s day!”
Sharp’s Brewery’s adventurous collaboration
Cornwall-based Sharp’s Brewery has launched Sublime Sundown, the first of its 2020 Adventure Series beers, created in collaboration with chef Paul Ainsworth.
The “unique ‘steam’ style beer” was inspired by a dish served at Paul Ainsworth’s pub in Rock, The Mariners, called Hunters’ Snags – sausages coated in butter and thyme served with thick-cut orange marmalade and mustard.
‘Steam’ beer is created by utilising a hybrid yeast which combines lager and ale characteristics to produce a “fantastic and uniquely bitter-sweet blend with a beautiful deep amber shade.”
Head brewer at Sharp’s, Aaron McClure, said: “We are really excited to launch our first Adventure Series beer of 2020. We have used our combined technical knowledge as a brewing team with Paul Ainsworth who has an expert understanding of flavour to create this stunning, balanced brew. Sublime Sundown is perfect to be enjoyed as the nights lighten.”
Paul Ainsworth said, “Collaborating with Sharp’s Brewery to come up with our very own limited-edition beer has been one of the most exciting, creative, and rewarding projects I’ve ever been involved with. The flavour profile in this beer is everything I wanted it to be. What I also wanted to try and incorporate in this beer is an old-fashioned blending known as ‘steam style beer.’ This allowed us to combine the characteristics of lager and ale which makes for a really moreish beer, the colour and pour of which just look incredible in the glass.”
The amber ale is available now at select locations nationwide through to the end of April or from Sharp’s online shop at https://www.sharpsbrewery.co.uk/sharps/shop
Cornish distillery’s Seafarer’s Gin
Rosemullion Distillery, based on the Helford in Cornwall, has launched the “coastal-inspired” Seafarer’s Gin.
The 43% ABV spirt features locally-sourced samphire and three types of Cornish seaweed in its dozen botanicals as well as juniper, orange, orris, angelica root, cassia, lemon, and liquorice.
Andy Bradbury, co-founder of Rosemullion Distillery, said: “Those who are lucky enough to live in Cornwall or have visited our beautiful coastline, will know what it’s like to walk along the beach or the coast path, taking in the refreshing sea air, and feeling the salty spray as the waves crash against the coastline.
“We’ve tried to encapsulate that feeling in our Seafarer’s Gin so that our customers can experience a small piece of the Cornish coastline at home.”
Founded in 2019, Rosemullion Distillery won gold for its Summer Gin and Harvest Gin, silver for its Gold Rum and bronze for its Dry Gin at the SIP Awards.
The Seafarer’s Gin is available in shops across Cornwall and Devon, and online. For a full list of stockists, visit rosemulliondistillery.com/stockists.
Traditional Victorian pub in Lyme Regis for sale
The Nags Head is Lyme Regis is on the market for £595,000 for the freehold with Christie & Co.
This traditional coaching house dates back to the Victorian era and occupies an elevated site with extensive views to the sea and coastline beyond. It features four letting rooms and a further three that are being redecorated.
James and Rebecca De-Voisey purchased the pub just over two years ago and have extensively refurbished large parts of the business. They said: “We have thoroughly enjoyed our time at The Nags Head and being at the centre of a vibrant local community. During our time at the pub we have invested in it, improved its profitability and it still has further opportunities to develop. We feel we have helped secure its future as a successful business and community hub and, by doing so, it offers the new owners the opportunity to really take it forward and continue to grow the business.”
Lloyd Colin, business agent at Christie & Co, is handling the sale and said: “This a very profitable pub and there is still scope to increase those profits even further. We expect a high level of interest due to the location of this business and the fact that it is free of tie, with an additional three bedrooms still to be added to the letting accommodation.”
For more details go to https://www.christie.com/news-resources/press-releases/march-2020-(1)/traditional-victorian-coach-house-in-lyme-regis-co/
Devon pub and family home for sale
The Union Inn in Stibb Cross, Devon is on the market for £475,000 for the freehold with Stonesmith.
This traditional village pub has been completely refurbished in recent years and features the main bar, restaurant, pool room, catering kitchen and spacious family accommodation with three double bedrooms. Externally, there is an enclosed trade garden and parking.
The only pub in the village, it fronts the B3227 and the A388 main Bideford to Holsworthy/Launceston road.
For full details go to www.stonesmith.co.uk.