Welcome to Rise & Shine
There’s a lot of launch activity to announce this issue and we find nothing lifts our spirits like a freshly turned-over “Open” sign. Which is good because the road to recovery was always going to be a long and winding one rather a quick route back to where we used to be, as the latest steady but mixed sales figures for pubs and restaurants show. Any business opening or reopening post-lockdown should be congratulated. We’ll do all we can to support your venture in Rise & Shine. Contact our News Editor Nina Mitchell with all the latest developments in your company so we can share them with over 15,000 professionals in the South West. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 01305 575155. Follow us on Twitter @BreadButterNews for updates.
Enjoy your Rise & Shine!
Managed pubs lead mixed sales recovery post lockdown
Sales across the market saw an improvement as Britain’s managed pub, bar and restaurant groups reopened more sites in early August. But although figures were an improvement on previous weeks they were significantly below pre-Covid norms, latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker figures reveal.
Data collected from 52 leading operators show that for the week beginning 27th July collective like-for-like sales in those sites trading were still down 24.3% on the corresponding week last year.
However, that was a better performance than the minus 28.5% the week before, the 31.6% down the week before that, and the 39.8% level recorded in the first week after the lockdown was lifted in England.
Total sales across the managed pub, bar and restaurant market showed a 33% increase on the previous week’s trading, helped both by better trading in individual sites and more locations being open for business. In all, 74% of group-operated sites were open for eating and drinking inside over the week, up from 68% the week before.
“Progress is being made, but if people were expecting a rapid bounce-back, they will be disappointed. We are also seeing differences across the market. While pub groups have now reopened the vast majority of their sites, many more group-owned restaurant locations are still closed, and there must be concern about how many of those might remain shuttered,” said Karl Chessell, director of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM.
Restaurant groups have generally taken a more cautious approach to reopening than pubs, with only 38% of sites open for business, although an improvement on the 29% in the previous week. Those group-run restaurants that were open saw like-for-likes down 21.7% on the same week last year, compared to 22.4% down the previous week.
Pub groups now have 90% of sites open, compared to 83% the week before, and pubs that were open recorded collective sales down 23.6% on the same week in 2019, compared to minus 29% the week before.
Bars are still having a tougher time than both pubs and restaurants, although sales improved last week. Bars that were open saw sales down 37.9%, compared to 45.7% down the week before. The percentage of group-run bars open increased from 51% to 62% from the week before.
“We are now four weeks in after the lockdown in England was lifted, and with Scotland and Wales now reopened too, we can get a better picture of progress. It’s steady but mixed – and we are seeing from individual company reports that trade in city centres is more difficult compared to many less urban locations. In particular, we know from the EPOS data we receive on food and drinks sales that the picture in central London and West End continues to be devastating. Monthly tracker data will be available next week, which will give us a more granular view of regional differences and food and drink splits,” added Chessell.
£10 million Aqua Club opens at Cornish hotel
A new £10 million swimming and wellbeing centre has opened at five-star hotel, The Headland in Newquay, Cornwall.
The Aqua Club features six pools, a sun terrace overlooking Fistral Beach and a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant named The Deck.
Owner Carolyn Armstrong said: “It was a great pleasure to introduce our hotel and cottage guests to The Aqua Club on 25 July. Combined with our five-star facilities and enviable location on the north Cornwall coast, The Aqua Club will provide our guests with some much-needed relaxation – and a place to escape and recharge – following a turbulent few months in lockdown.
“The summer marks the 120th anniversary of The Headland first opening its doors to the public. While COVID-19 has brought an incredibly challenging start to the season, the opening of The Aqua Club is a brilliant way to celebrate our rich and interesting history, whilst looking forward to the future.”
The new centre marks the end of a phase of investment for The Headland under owners, John and Carolyn Armstrong. They have spent in excess of £40 million renovating the destination over a 40 year period.
The Aqua Club houses three pools: a 25-metre swimming pool, a children’s splash pool, and a hydrotherapy pool. On the sun terrace outside, there is a heated sunset spa encircled by an oceanfront edge pool and a vitality pool with a menhir made from Cornish granite. The sun terrace connects to The Deck which serves homemade flatbreads, fresh salads, coffees and cocktails.
Awarded five stars by both the AA and Quality in Tourism in 2019, The Headland can also boast luxury bedrooms and suites, self-catering cottages, two award-winning restaurants, a five-bubble rated spa and gym, and a surf school.
For more information, visit headlandhotel.co.uk, or contact reception on 01637 872211.
Country Pub Group goes into administration
A pub group with four sites in the South West has gone into administration.
The Country Pub Group has appointed Steven John Parker and Trevor John Binyon of restructuring and insolvency firm Opus as administrators.
The group runs The Battleaxes, in Wraxall near Bristol; Temple Inn, in Temple Cloud; Mendip Inn, in Oakhill near Shepton Mallet; and Castle Inn, in Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire. It had acquired the Castle Inn and Battleaxes from the Flatcappers Group a year ago for £300,000 according to the Morning Advertiser.
There was no news on whether the pubs will close or if jobs are at risk.
Rockfish reopens with a flourish
Seafood restaurant group, Rockfish has now reopened the full estate of nine restaurants in the group. Openings were phased throughout July to ensure all Covid-19 security measures were implemented.
The Brixham restaurant and takeaway has undergone a refurbishment with a new bar and extended eating area on the balcony. The site will also feature a “state-of-the-art” fishmongers in the autumn.
Sales in some sites are equal to last year, according to Rockfish and like-for-like sales are only 7% below last year despite social distancing reducing the number of covers. Takeaway sales are up 40% year on year as staycationers flood into the South West.
The Eat Out to Help Out scheme has been widely used and the group saw 75% of covers across the group, around 20,000, booked up for August on Monday/Tuesday/Wednesdays within two days of announcing the scheme to their customer database.
Founder Mitch Tonks said: “I’m astounded by both the guest feedback and the numbers for our first month since reopening. We knew that staycations and the coast would be a massive draw as the summer arrived but there were too many unknowns and variables to accurately predict customer behaviour… We have put a lot of work into making sure everyone feels reassured, comfortable and really happy to come to our restaurants. Our videos walking people round some of our restaurants and showing them what we are actually doing have been talked about by guests and by industry extensively. People have liked being able to trust that we have the Covid security covered but not at the expense of hospitality, restraints can still be fun and safe without the expense of either which is a fine balance to achieve.
“Our exec team has talked daily throughout the lockdown and analysed every aspect of the business so that on reopening we were in as good a position as we could be. There will be plenty of challenges ahead, we are not in a bubble and have a long winter ahead but we remain optimistic about people wanting to eat fresh fish by the sea. I have an amazing team throughout the business who bring energy, commitment and real care to each other and their work. I think we are better and stronger than we were and, if we can quickly adapt to constant change, I believe the future can be navigated safely.”
Eat Out to Help Out a farm shop
Farm shop directory, Fabulous Farm Shops is backing the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme by compiling a list of participating outlets on its website www.fabulousfarmshops.co.uk/eat-out-to-help-out.
Some farm shops in the South West who are taking part in the promotion, which sees eateries offer a government-backed 50% discount from Monday – Wednesday in August, include Hilltop Farm Shop in Camelford, Cornwall; Strawberry Fields Farm Shop in Lifton, Devon; Pamphill Dairy in Wimborne, Dorset and Newton Farm Shop in Newton St Loe, Bath.
For a full list visit Fabulous Farm Shops for details.
New Pig opens in Cornwall
The Pig at Harlyn Bay has now opened, after postponing their original launch date in April due to the Coronavirus.
Situated on the north Cornish coast, this new site for the original “restaurant with rooms” is based in a building dating back to the 15th century and now fully restored to make the most of far-reaching views over Harlyn Bay and beyond.
Guests will be able to enjoy “outdoor dining at its best” with seafood and fizz at The Lobster Shed, open daily in the gardens from 12 noon – 9pm. Alternatively, they can dine in the eclectic restaurant with a wood-panelled dining room or the more farmhouse-style Scullery. All the food will be influenced by what’s available from the kitchen garden and produce from local farmers, producers and fishermen that help to create their 25-mile menu.
For more details, go to www.thepighotel.com/at-harlyn-bay.
Newquay open for business again
Newquay in Cornwall has “come alive again” following lockdown according to its BID (Business Improvement District) manager, Carla Marie Jones.
She cites businesses in the town that are seeing record sales and some that have started or expanded because of the lockdown. These include deli and wine bar The Bottle Newquay which launched a refillable wine company during the pandemic crisis and the Boathouse Food Hub, a set-up of local street food vendors.
Also opening in Newquay in the last couple of months, Cove24, an “open-space dining experience” in the town centre which offers a menu full of dishes made with locally-sourced ingredients cooked by chefs that learnt their skills at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen. The town also saw a number of drive-in cinema events as well as Paulos circus drive-in, a UK first.
Carla Marie Jones said: “We’re delighted with how responsible the retailers and businesses have been since reopening, ensuring safety measures are in place for all. We continue to be impressed with the flexibility shown in welcoming people back, in terms of adjusting opening hours, flexing capacity and the creative use of outdoor spaces. It never ceases to amaze us how bold, agile and resourceful the businesses in our town are, and this has been evident throughout the pandemic.
Together, we developed an extensive Business Reopening Guide which details all safety measures for businesses, cleaning protocols, risk assessment templates, and a ‘Back to Business Checklist’, as well as details of free sector-specific webinars…
“Newquay BID’s priority still remains supporting its businesses, ensuring we are providing them with all possible information on the support available to them. The BID website and social media is being updated regularly with advice and information as soon as we have it. For more information, please see the Newquay BID website or email email@example.com.”
The Box opens in Plymouth
New dining experience The Box Kitchen & Bar will now launch on Friday 25th September in Plymouth after postponing its original May 2020 opening date due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The new restaurant will open within The Box, a £44 million cultural and heritage attraction in the city. The museum will celebrate Plymouth’s rich history and culture, part of an ambitious regeneration plan that’s backed by £1 billion of projects in the pipeline for Plymouth.
MasterChef: The Professionals contestant and National Chef of the Year 2020 semi-finalist, Nat Tallents, will run the kitchen at The Box. The dining experience will make the most of the wide-open space, inside and on the patio to offer a safe, socially distanced environment for diners. The kitchen will serve breakfast, lunch, coffee and cakes initially before launching their evening menu from mid-November. The breakfast menu includes a Mexican-inspired breakfast flatbread, as well as items like pancakes with maple syrup and smoked bacon. The lunch menu includes a beetroot and halloumi burrito and Devon beef minute steak.
Nat Tallents said: “The Box Kitchen & Bar will be everything the community space around it represents: welcoming, fun and hospitable, with great food and drink made with the best seasonal produce we can source. We’ve worked hard to ensure the venue is as clean and safe as possible, with every system we can put in place for our guests’ and team’s safety. I’m extremely proud to be a part of this exciting new chapter and can’t wait to welcome our first guests in September.”
Adventure golf tees off in Cornwall
China Fleet Country Club in Saltash, Cornwall opened their Woodland Adventure Golf on Sunday 2nd August.
It features 18 holes “filled with amazing wooden carved features, sounds and exciting course challenges” plus a stream runs through the course which you players can pull themselves across using a raft.
Managing director Dean Bennett said: “We opened on Sunday 2nd August and already we are pleased with the volume of visitors this course has attracted locally and all over the region.
“We are also running the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, and have recently reopened the brasserie, alongside the Farm House and outdoor marquee area for all diners, so this really is an affordable day out for all the family.”
Opened in 1991, China Fleet Country Club is a hotel, golf and health club set in 180 acres on the banks of the River Tamar in Saltash.
FOOD & DRINK NEWS
New distillery launches rum for gin lovers
Cornish distillery Penryn Spirits has launched BORA Botanical Rum, which they describe as a “Caribbean Spirit with Cornish Spice” and “the rum for gin lovers”.
Named after the Cornish word for dawn, BORA uses British botanicals including nettles and quinces to reinvent traditional spiced rum and create a “light, dry, aromatic spirit”.
Pete Mack and Willoughby Werner, Co-Founders at Penryn Spirits, said: “We are very excited to launch BORA Botanical Rum this Summer. Following nearly a decade of dreaming, two years of experimentation and refinement, and plenty of setbacks along the way, we’ve created what we believe is a truly unique spirit. Harnessing the wealth of flavour offered by the natural botanicals in the Cornish landscape around us, BORA is a complex, smooth, and aromatic rum that brings something different to this bourgeoning category. We couldn’t be prouder to be distilling and launching BORA within the context of Cornwall’s rich distilling heritage.”
They recommend partnering it with tonic and a sprig of rosemary. Priced at £30 for a 50cl bottle, BORA is available at www.penrynspirits.com.
Sharpham Cheese gets new look
Award-winning Devon cheesemakers Sharpham has unveiled a new visual identity. It’s hoped the new look will “communicate its simple natural approach” to cheese-making and has been rolled out across its entire range.
Exeter-based design agency, Buddy Creative were briefed to create new packaging that appealed “to a wide range of consumers” and created “a renewed sense of engagement with the brand”. The new labels use hand-illustrated imagery plus a clear description off the cheese, tasting notes and serving suggestions.
David Jones from Buddy Creative said: “The previous brand design was inconsistent throughout the portfolio and needed a stylish new look to stand out. Our vibrant and eye-catching design harmonises the range and strives to capture people’s attention at the delicatessen counter.”
Greg Parsons, Managing Director of Sharpham Cheese, said: “We think the beautiful branding unifies the range and captures the essence of Sharpham perfectly. We are excited to see the brand’s latest incarnation hit the shelves.”
The Green Dragon in Somerset for sale at £485,000
A substantial village pub dating back 400 years in a south Somerset village has gone on the market for £485,000 with Stonesmiths.
The only pub in Combe St Nicholas, The Green Dragon is a village freehouse within a spacious character property. It’s well-known for locally sourced food, quality ales and wines, located not far from the Blackdown Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The business is reluctantly offered for sale due to personal family circumstances. For more details contact the agents on (01392)201262 or email:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Freehold Glastonbury pub comes to market
The Sheppey Inn is on the market for an asking price of £950,000 with Christie & Co. This freehold inn and restaurant has a popular riverside beer garden and terrace seating 150, vaulted dining room (seating 180) and three boutique letting bedrooms.
The pub is situated four miles from Glastonbury and Wells in a quirky 17th-century former cider house which occupies a substantial two-storey building. The sale offers the potential for new owners to create more letting accommodation, according to the agents.
The Inn has been owned by Mark Hey since 2010, who has decided to sell up and relocate to Portugal with his wife. He said: “It is with great sadness that we will say goodbye to The Sheppey. We have seen year on year growth since we opened in 2010, and the pub has turned into a bit of a must-go tourist destination for visitors to Somerset but it also has a big regular following from the local communities especially from Bristol and Bath retaining its integrity. I’m always happily surprised at the demand for quality products like natural wines, craft beers and, of course, artisan cider by our customers.”
Nicholas Calfe, director of pubs at Christie & Co, who is handling the sale, comments: “Tucked away in the beautiful Somerset Levels, The Sheppey Inn is a hidden gem and people travel far and wide to experience its quirkiness. The current owners permanently relocating to Portugal gives a new buyer the exciting opportunity to take ownership of this highly profitable and popular riverside pub, to add to their portfolio or use this acquisition as a lifestyle change.”
Taste Of The West Producer of the month: Natural Branscombe
Natural Branscombe, a small farm in the beautiful seaside village of Branscombe in East Devon, won Taste of the West’s Supreme Champion Product Award for their mixed salad bag in 2019. Everyone involved in last year’s Taste of the West Awards judging process raved about this salad. It’s classy, delicious and every mouthful offers a different flavour and texture. The variety of leaves and flowers in each bag is amazing and every single one of them has been grown with skill and care with perfect results.
“You can see from my face in pictures that I most definitely wasn’t expecting to win Taste of the West’s Champion Product,” says Jenny Lonnberg who runs the farm. “For us to win out of thousands of products, well: I was stunned. I certainly hadn’t prepared a speech. It was an amazing moment.” Containing everything from sorrel to edible dahlia flowers, wild garlic to New Zealand spinach, Natural Branscombe’s fresh mixed salads have long held legendary status in their tucked-away corner of East Devon. But it was not until Jenny’s friend Katy persuaded her to enter the Taste of the West awards that the news spread: these salads are simply superb. “When we won, Katy gave us a bottle of champagne and said, ‘I told you so,’” Jenny laughs. Jenny and her partner Ian Crowe, with help from their young children, grow their dazzling array of ingredients at their home farm in the seaside village of Branscombe. “I’ve always had green fingers and gardened as a child growing up in Sweden. When I met Ian, I saw that the land here in Branscombe was very favourable – it’s south-facing, mild and plenty of moisture, just what salad crops enjoy,” says Jenny. Since their win, the couple have expanded the business with a new packing barn and acquired many keen new customers, says Jenny. “We sell the salads locally through independent stores and also to chefs and restaurants. It’s been a huge boost to us to win the top product at the Taste of the West awards. This really has given us a sense of confidence for the future.”
Visit www.naturalbranscombe.co.uk for more information. To see more Taste of the West producers, go to www.tasteofthewest.co.uk.