Propel Quarterly Winter 2015

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An inspiration for success Martin Wolstencroft interviewed Inside: Turning pub noers into pub growers Samuel Smith builds on success The power of research Benugo executive to owner/operator Charles Wells reinvests in managed division Lunch times are a-changin’ Peter Tiley interviewed The ‘Great Tea Revolution’


ISSUE 13 • WINTER 2015

Editor’s Opinion

Editor’s Opinion

Dear Reader, Two of the companies featured in this edition of Propel Quarterly have both embarked on the same radical new strategy. Charles Wells, the UK's largest privately-owned brewer, is opening managed pubs (see page 63) for the first time in many years. It's making a small start with a handful of openings. Chairman Paul Wells said the starting point is that the division must make money from the start. A pretty sensible approach. Much more ambitious is Enterprise Inns' target of opening circa 800 managed pubs within five years. In this edition, commercial director Paul Harbottle reports on the progress so far, setting out some of the learnings picked up (see page 32). This monumental goal is little short of the most ambitious thing ever attempted in the sector. Enterprise will seek to create a lot of value by investing in pubs in partnership with some of its best retailers, whom it refers to as “managed experts”. It envisages 100 schemes within five years, with each pub turning over at least £1m per annum after a £400,000 investment. To my mind, this is the most straight forward part of Enterprise’s managed plan, co-opting experienced retailers, properly incentivised, to apply their knowledge to some of the company’s finest properties. Opening the additional 700 managed pubs under two proposed formats – Bermondsey Pub Company and Craft Union Pub Company – is where Enterprise will have its hands full. The starting point here is far less about the forthcoming Market Rent Only (MRO) option, ending the beer tie, than observers might think. Chief executive Simon Townsend began his strategy review in the summer of 2014, six months before MRO became a serious and cemented option. Townsend fears far too many Enterprise pubs, run less than brilliantly, often in screaming need of investment, are being left behind in their local market. The company simply needs to develop the capability to run many more pubs itself rather than trust in the often unreliable process of reletting to a fresh tenant, too often producing a clattering failure or a sub-standard operation. Enterprise's early steps look like the right ones. It’s spent serious money on an estate-wide market segmentation exercise, hired managed sector expertise and outsourced back office support to minimise costs. But, right now, it stands at the foot of the mountain gazing upwards. There is the challenge of spending £350m over the next five years. The only investment and segmentation exercise of recent times to remotely compare to this job-list is Mike Tye’s work at Spirit. Major difference though: he was working with pubs that were already managed. The question arises: is the Enterprise estate capable of carving out 800 managed pubs? Isn’t this estate tenanted and leased for a reason? Certainly, the company’s forecast midrange average weekly take of £12,000 is on the low side for managed pubs. Undershoot this by much and the argument for managed conversion is vaporised. Townsend told analysts in May that he believes 1,500 pubs are effectively run as managed pubs already within the Enterprise estate because their leaseholder employs a full-time manager. There will be leaseholders, current and past, who will have trouble disguising their glee if Enterprise finds it harder than envisaged to outperform its former tenant. Lastly comes the major supposed negative. Enterprise no longer grants long, tied leases. It still plans to run 2,400 tied tenanted and leased pubs but on five-year lease terms. In this respect, it becomes more like the family brewers who have always kept tight control of their pub estates through shorter term agreements. But the long, tied lease was supposed to perform a valuable function. It was supposed to encourage long-term commitment to particular pubs by partnership of tenant and landlord sharing a co-interest. It was supposed to be a tool to attract high quality tenants looking to make large investments who needed long lease terms to ensure appropriate returns, but who could, if worst came to worst, call on additional help from their landlord. Some would say the long, tied lease merely led to the overall decline in the physical standards of thousands of tied pubs – as many could not afford to meet their repairing obligations. The truth is that five years is quite a sensible time to commit to a pub – it’s one year less than the current Enterprise estate average tenure. Best wishes,







Contents 8

Chilli Pickle turning up the heat in Brighton by Sonya Hook


Turning pub noers into pub growers


An inspiration for success


The key to reviving a brand


Samuel Smith builds on success


Introducing the five phases of developing leading individuals

by Kate Nicholls

John Porter interviews Martin Wolstencroft

by Chris Edger and Tony Hughes

by Glynn Davis

by Chris Muller


Giving an insight into the power of research


Propel Multi Club Conference


Fast-casual shaking up the UK dining scene


Dusk ’til Dawn


Time to consider what’s on the menu?


Saluting the success of the Salutation


Capturing the next big idea


How Sticks ‘n’ Sushi has become an international brand

by Ann Elliott

an overview

by Rachel Royster

in pictures

by Steven Pike

Sonya Hook interviews Peter Tiley

by James Hacon

by Andreas Karlsson


40 Published by Propel Hospitality The Goose House, Brighton Road Lower Beeding West Sussex RH13 6NQ



An ‘unholy’ alliance against alcohol


Charles Wells reinvests in managed division


Benugo executive to owner/operator


The web has untangled so many opportunities


Bar & Nightclub Conference


The ‘Great Tea Revolution’


Lunch times are a-changin’


Propel Morning Briefing

by Paul Chase

John Porter interviews Craig Mayes Sonya Hook interviews Rupert Davidson

by Gareth Powell

a round-up

by Clare Fuller

by Muriel Illig

News Digest

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Contributors Paul Chase, Glynn Davis, Chris Edger, Ann Elliott, Clare Fuller, James Hacon, Sonya Hook, Tony Hughes, Muriel Illig, Andreas Karlsson, Chris Muller, Kate Nicholls, Steven Pike, John Porter, Gareth Powell, Rachel Royster Printing and Distribution Evonprint, Mackley Estate, Henfield Road, Small Dole, West Sussex, BN5 9XR

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Dawn and Alun Sperring

Hot in the city: the Indian turning up the heat in Brighton


lun Sperring clearly loves international cuisine and his 20-year career includes roles as an expat chef in a host of exotic locations. But when the time came to open his own restaurant along with his wife Dawn, he admits it took a while to hone in on the style of cuisine. “I needed to choose which type of food to focus on and initially nothing seemed defined enough,” he says. But once the decision was made to focus on their love of Indian regional cuisine, particularly street food, “it all seemed to flow naturally”. The pair wanted things in the restaurant they loved as well as elements from India they enjoyed when they ate out themselves. “All of this is combined with a great product,” says Alun. “I knew I could make a good impact by producing meals from Indian regions, often with a slight twist.” The restaurant’s menu changes regularly and dishes reflect different regional cuisines. One of its flagship dishes is oxtail madras, which hit the headlines in 2008 when Alun adapted the dish to win an award for Britain’s hottest curry. He says: “We try out new dishes all the time and while we also cater


Chilli Pickle has won a raft of awards, is often fully booked at weekends and has paved the way for some new Indian restaurant concepts in its home city of Brighton. Sonya Hook finds out what makes it such a hit


for those who just want a bottle of Cobra and a chicken curry, we make sure it is a chicken curry that we really think is great. And really it is all the things around these dishes that makes it interesting. We also started out with a great beer menu, which was important to me as I had spent seven years in Munich. ‘Craft’ wasn’t a cliché back then and we flew the flag from the beginning.” Chilli Pickle started up in 2007 in a small listed building tucked away in Brighton’s historic Laines area. Alun grew up in Brighton and knew the city would be open-minded enough to understand what he was trying to do. “They also loved the fact it was a bit hidden away,” he says. But getting started was a challenge. “We had no marketing budget and not enough of a buffer if things went wrong, plus it was the start of the recession,” says Dawn. “One hot week in August is memorable as we had a problem with the tills, and then the freezer packed up. Alun then broke his fist, and then we heard that a health inspector was due that week.” But weekends quickly got busier with trade gradually spreading to the earlier parts of the week and it wasn’t long before the concept ▲

Feature formed and we have something special; the time is now right to grow.” The good thing is that the concept can work in a number of spaces, according to Alun. “It won’t work in every city but we don’t have a pre-defined idea of what kind of venue we want – we can have more than one template as we can morph into different spaces,” he says. “We will need to make sure the kitchen space can include a tandoor oven and a grill, but otherwise different spaces can be adapted.” ▲

Chilli Pickle in Brighton

Award wins 2 AA Rosettes 2009-2014 The National Restaurant Awards 15 top 100 UK Restaurants 2011-2015 outgrew its 45-cover venue. It meant that in 2011 when the chance arose to move into the Myhotel space near the vibrant North Laines area of the city, the pair leapt at the chance. Alun says: “Many of our regular customers expressed concern about us moving, and we loved it that they cared so much, but really it seemed like a natural progression for us and we really believed it could work.”

Opportunity knocks Alun had experience of working in big restaurants, and this certainly helped as Chilli Pickle went from 45 covers to a whopping 115. He says: “We were at maximum capacity at our old site and the move gave us more opportunities, particularly as the kitchen space is really great now.” The current venue, which was a success from the start, has a team of 55 staff in total – of which at least 20 work in the kitchen. Alun adds: “The shell was good and it has a great kitchen; aesthetically we were able to do a good job on a reasonable budget and the hotel owner made it all accessible to us. To keep costs down we did it all quickly as we needed a quick transition.” Alun explains the pair have always been mindful of growing the business, “and we are constantly striving to move forwards”, he says. He adds: “The top line is increasing now, and achieving £2m as an independent is not that common; we are really happy with this. Dawn and I worked really hard on being business owners. It’s a tough industry to make money in; staffing costs need to be factored in and we have to get visas too. We have to be smart about price points.” He admits it has been a lot easier since he made the decision to move away from the kitchen more, in order to look at the bigger picture. “We have a good core team now,” he adds. The pair also take their family to India once a year on research trips. “Last time we went to Hyderabad with the core aim of checking out the biryani there,” says Alun. Alun and Dawn are now in the position where they are speaking with potential investors with the aim of opening up more venues. “We are at a point now where we have created what we are,” says Alun. “Our identity has been

The Craft Guild of Chef Awards 2013 (Ethnic Chef Award – finalist. Alun Sperring chef/proprietor) Michelin Bib Gourmand 2010-2015

“Many of our regular customers expressed concern about us moving, and we loved it that they cared so much, but really it seemed like a natural progression for us and we really believed it could work”

Hardens 2011-2015 (“By far Brighton’s best Indian”) British Curry Awards 2010, 2012, 2014 (Best Casual Dining Indian Restaurant & Best Delivery Service) British Curry Awards 2010 (Most Innovative Restaurant) The Craft Guild of Chefs Restaurant Show 2010 (Winner, Indian Restaurant Challenge) Britain’s Hottest Curry 2008 (Winning Dish: The Chilli Pickle’s oxtail madras) Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Awards 2014 (Gold, Best Takeaway) Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Awards 2013 (Silver, Best Restaurant; Gold, Best Takeaway) ¡ WINTER 2015 ¡ PROPEL QUARTERLY


Feature Additional revenue streams: In January 2014, Chilli Pickle launched a delivery service called The Chilli Pickle Canteen, described as “a delivery service offering a unique experience of in-home Indian dining”. Dishes include grand thalis, railway trays and biryani sets, all inspired by Alun and Dawn’s travels to India. “The canteen element was a big thing for us as we needed to get enough delivery cars running and we had a thali box especially fabricated for us,” says Dawn. “We wanted to emulate the ‘special-ness’ of the restaurant; it was a really big challenge, particularly with the logistical side. We knew we could create the product and we knew how it should be served, but we wanted to give good customer service as well.”

Why it works:

The logistics of manning the drivers and the overheads of running a website needed some work. Alun says: “We had to introduce a pre-ordering system on the website to avoid bottle necks but we made it as customer-friendly as we could, and now the canteen is another good arm to the business.” The takeaway arm, which runs five evenings a week, now accounts for about 15% of the business. The restaurant also has a retail arm, selling its red chilli jam and chutneys, following demand from customers. “It’s a branding thing really,” says Alun. “Some of these are made in-house and some are brought in from a company in Calcutta. It’s not that difficult to manage and it’s great for our identity.”


“Indian food often has a reputation for being unsuitable for lunchtimes but we wanted to change that”


Over time, Chilli Pickle has managed to break down some of the myths associated with Indian food. “Indian food often has a reputation for being unsuitable for lunchtimes but we wanted to change that,” says Dawn. “We have proven that you can be in and out within 40 minutes and back at work and we have also shown that it can be a light meal using good quality, healthy ingredients, and that this can be suitable for a lunchtime.” The restaurant is also increasingly becoming popular with families. “We have a family ourselves and we always eat as a family when we can,” says Dawn. “We don’t want their food to be different from ours so here we serve the same food but without as much spice. We want the restaurant to be accessible for the whole community including families, couples, vegetarians; it’s about the experience.” Chilli Pickle also gets involved in local projects. This summer it had a pop-up stand to support the summer Big Screen event in Brighton. “It was a really wet August, which made it challenging, and it was our first pop-up without a kitchen, but it went down well,” says Dawn. “We also do food demonstrations at the Brighton and Hove food festival.” More recently the team have been working on improving the early part of the evening by introducing a pre-theatre menu. “We have a thali offer, which is a set meal of ten items,” says Dawn. “It is working well and helps us with the quieter times on Sundays to Thursdays.” The “£10 King Thali Monday” is another successful concept. “It’s been great PR as everyone in Brighton now knows about it, and we run it even through bank holidays,” adds Dawn. “It really helps to bring in new people.”

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Opinion alienation with our potential customers – those who haven't been to the pub in the past year are less and less likely to come back as time passes.

Female perspective

Turning pub noers into pub growers using the feminine touch


ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls explains why feedback from women could be key to attracting customers back to the pub

he customer is always right – the customer is king. Two truisms that were drilled into me when I started working in the sector and which were very much to the front of mind as I attended the very first Pub Goers Conference last month. Now, I have always had a bit of a problem with the idea that the customer is always right. Not because the principle is wrong – far from it – but because I spent lots of time when I first started working in the sector in rooms of men confidently (and often wrongly) telling me what women wanted, or in marketing meetings talking about different ways of segmenting the market, but always looking at our existing customers only. It seems obvious that, in an increasingly competitive market, with next to no customer loyalty, we need to look outside our existing customer base. The latest research from Cardinal suggests that even those calling themselves regular pub goers and eating and drinking out on a weekly basis say they only visit their favourite pub two to three times a year. So the fact the starting point for the discussion was looking at non-goers and interrogating their views, concerns and needs was music to my ears. And to

paraphrase Cardinal's research, customers fall into two groups – pub growers and pub noers. Pub growers might not be firm customers, but they crucially identify themselves as potential pub customers and visit the pub at least three times a year. The good news here is that they have a going out habit – not always to pubs, but they are eating and drinking out – and their frequency of going out has increased and they intend to go out more often. There is 11% net growth in frequency of going out amongst this segment, so confidence is returning, particularly among Generation X and Y – the very markets many of us worry are turning away from going out. The pub noers are those who don't visit pubs frequently – less than once a year – and worryingly those people are much more pessimistic about their personal circumstances. They are going out less and less – almost two-thirds think they will go out less in the coming year and that is all forms of going out, not just pub visits. As always, the real competition is not pub versus casual dining versus fast casual, but going out versus staying at home. There is a real polarisation between these two consumer groups and worryingly an increasing and growing sense of

And when you look at the root cause of that alienation it is clear that their views of the pub are rooted in the past – dirty toilets, unsmiling staff, sticky carpets, not a good choice of food. These are pub stereotypes none of us would recognise from the modern, dynamic sector we live and work in. They are all ones we would gladly consign to the past – and indeed thought we had – but our pub noers are clearly disconnected from the modern reality. And here is where my other gritted teeth moment – what women want – comes in. As the chief executive of Saint Nicks Fraser Brown observed, we are still a male originated and dominated sector – and men are far more simplistic and linear (his words not mine!) when it comes to commenting on what they like or dislike about the pub or your offer. He advocates all-female panels for customer feedback to his clients. Asking women directly what they want and what they think not only means you get more sophisticated and constructive criticism, it will also address the ambience, comfort and service concerns, which are turning too many customers off pubs. So it could be key to tackling the pub noers too. Two other key stats from the conference stood out for me – the fact that 51% of pub visits always include food, and a similar proportion are meal deals; and that just 26% of drink sales in branded pubs contain alcohol. This is evidence writ large of the transformation our sector has gone through over the past decade. They probably don’t come as news to any of us operating in the sector, but I guarantee that they would be startling killer facts if presented to those customers who feel pubs are not for them. They are also killer arguments to use against those other pub noers – some politicians, the police, the enforcers and, more importantly, the health lobby. Pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants are not just night-time economy businesses, they provide valuable services throughout the day for tourists, residents and office workers – society generally and the cultural life of the community. They generated 8% of net new jobs in the last year, in all regions and for all skills but crucially for young people. And they paid more than a third of their turnover in taxes – funding vital public services. So we have to work hard to address the "misperceptions" of actual and potential customers – our sector is broad, inclusive and progressive – and to ensure relevance. Get it right and we can turn those pub noers into pub growers.

Kate Nicholls is chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers ¡ WINTER 2015 ¡ PROPEL QUARTERLY



An inspiration for success As Leeds-based Arc Inspirations begins expanding across the Pennines, John Porter talks to managing director Martin Wolstencroft about how he’s built up the company and what the future holds


he irony is far from lost on Martin Wolstencroft that he started his career in the hospitality industry mainly because he found it difficult to get excited about furniture. “The daft thing is I’m now passionate about the bloody furniture,” he laughs, patting one of the large wooden tables at the newly-opened Banyan bar in Manchester’s redeveloped Corn Exchange. The new venue is the 13th for Arc Inspirations, the bar and restaurant company founded by Wolstencroft 15 years ago, and marks a move across the border into Lancashire for a business whose heartland is in Leeds. With Banyan’s neighbours at the Corn Exchange including casual dining royalty such as Zizzi, Wahaca and Byron, managing director Wolstencroft is focused on what gives Arc Inspirations its edge in such company. “I like to think we’re a bar serving food, and at the Corn Exchange all the others are casual dining concepts,” he says. “That’s our big point of difference.” However, rewind about 25 years to when Wolstencroft was a recent graduate. He says: “I got a job as a sales and marketing executive for an office furniture company. I was bored, I didn’t see eye-to-eye with the boss, and I agreed to leave. The landlady at my local pub was short-staffed, so I began working there part-time.” The pub in question was the Skyrack in Headlingley, owned at the time by Whitbread and enjoying the dubious reputation of being one of the roughest pubs in a city where that commodity has never been in short supply. The fact that Wolstencroft had played rugby league for the England student team while at Leeds Polytechnic undoubtedly helped his job prospects, and by the age of 22 he was the youngest general manager in the Whitbread business, tasked with turning the Skyrack around. Having banned the problem clientele, he boosted the pub’s appeal to the student community, and to sports teams in particular, “and there came a point at which I realised there hadn’t been a fight in pub for a month”, he says. The short summation doesn’t do justice to what was one of the most successful pub turnarounds ever. “We doubled trade and turned it from an intimidating place into a much more fun, enjoyable place,” he adds.


Banyan in Manchester

The Skyrack won a range of industry awards, and Wolstencroft was given the chance to earn his operational spurs within Whitbread. He says: “I became a trainee area manager, then an area manager. Back in the day, they started you off as an area manager with the tough pubs. These were community pubs in Leeds, Sheffield and Hull, and the main challenge was getting managers to take them. If they felt safe, you kept the doors open.” Wolstencroft went on to work on the development of wet-led Whitbread brands such as Hogshead, Casa and RSVP, and it was while prospecting potential locations he met property developer Chris Ure, who was lining up possible tenants for a site he owned in Headingley, which had planning permission for a bar and restaurant. The short version of the story is that the two formed a business and opened their first venue, the Arc, on the site in September 2000. The slightly longer version is that Wolstencroft remortgaged his house and borrowed money from family members to get the venture off the ground. He says: “Never mind the bank, try having to articulate to your parents what a cafe/bar is. We’d be up against the Skyrack, then still Whitbread’s biggest turnover pub, as well as Bass Taverns’ Headingley Tap and the Original Oak. These were huge, successful pubs. “However, because those pubs had been so successful over the years with the students, they had become tired and run down. Student pubs tended to get taken for granted by the brewers. I was confident that we could put something different together for the market, and do a good job.”

Strong appeal The Arc was developed with an appeal to higher-spending students as well as young professionals, with a high quality drinks range and a menu that had echoes of brands such as PizzaExpress and Ask, “which was where the casual dining market was 15 years ago”, along with upmarket sandwiches. The design was glass-fronted and open, with a strong appeal to female customers.



Martin Wolstencroft

“I knew I could recruit and motivate a fantastic group of people, and give customers something that was different for Leeds, and also put a design together that was totally different for the area, clean and attractive and not just for students,” adds Wolstencroft. “We took Headingley and north Leeds by storm. The Arc took £70,000 in the first week, then £80,000 the next. This was before licensing extensions, when pubs closed at 11pm. We used to take over £10,000 on a Sunday night. It was overwhelmingly wet trade, about 18% food, but that was still a take of £12,000-£13,000 a week on food. We didn’t do any discounting or offers, and it was a superb success.”

“I knew I could recruit and motivate a fantastic group of people, and give customers something that was different for Leeds, and also put a design together that was totally different for the area, clean and attractive and not just for students” The history for Arc Inspirations from there looks smooth, on paper at least. New venues opened more or less annually, with the reach extending across Leeds and on to Harrogate and York, with multiple concepts such as cafe/bar Banyan and barbecue brand The Pit alongside standalone venues. Inevitably though, it wasn’t all plain sailing. Arc Inspirations’ second venture, a development in a former job centre site in Headingley, fell foul of a well-organised campaign by a vocal group of local residents. Arc eventually won a licensing appeal in the crown court – and somewhat controversially asked the judge to award costs against its opponents. “We were in the crown court for four days and it got very personal and quite

aggressive,” he says. “We bought in a QC and we won. It was putting a marker down.” That venture opened as the Box in 2002 and went on to win several awards, as did Arc Inspirations as a company. Expansion continued until the economic downturn, when the focus switched to supporting the existing businesses. “Sales started to calm down, and we also reinvested massively back in the Arc, spending £80,000,” adds Wolstencroft. “As well as opening new places, you need to keep your core sites up to the same standards.” With expansion now firmly back on track, Wolstencroft says: “I think licensing and planning are easier, but the competition for sites is now unbelievable. We’d been working on coming to Manchester for some time, and were just waiting for the right opportunity in the right building. The Corn Exchange is a superb location, and we beat a lot of other operators to get the site and location.” Wolstencroft jokes that having been born in Saddleworth, north of Manchester, “it’s a beautiful story of a local lad, moved to Yorkshire, done good, moved back home, and opened a bar”. More realistically, he acknowledges that Arc Inspirations’ reputation in its home county doesn’t give it a free pass across the Pennines, but believes being a bar operator among restaurants helped swing the deal. “There aren’t many places here you can just have a beer,” he says. “With us, you can have a coffee, gin and tonic, glass of wine, cocktail and, of course, a pint.” Alongside craft beers from Thornbridge, Sharps and Manchester’s own TicketyBrew, the draught choice includes the more mainstream Coors. “It’s important you don’t intimidate your customers, and there are a lot of people out there who just want a lager, nothing too challenging,” he adds. As with most of the group’s sites, Banyan in Manchester opens at 9.30am for breakfast, and reflects current customer expectations with options such as superberry granola alongside more traditional choices. “People are a lot more health conscious generally, and the young professional market is very conscious of their health and welfare,” says Wolstencroft. ▲ ¡ WINTER 2015 ¡ PROPEL QUARTERLY


Feature Menu exercise With menu development undertaken in-house, Wolstencroft admits to doing some of his research amongst members of his gym, which has seen options such as sweet potato wedges, quinoa salad and bulgar wheat added as a result. “In each section of our menu there are a couple of healthy choices,” he says. “It appeals a lot more at the female market, which of course is where we first stole a march on the competition 15 years ago.” More generally, food is sourced locally. Wolstencroft adds: “We’ve added some new suppliers in Manchester, but our butcher and fruit and veg supplier have been with us almost from the start, and have grown with us. They’re as competitive on pricing as the mainstream catering suppliers.”

“The industry needs to work together to get younger people away from their social media and Xboxes, to come out and enjoy what we’ve got to offer” With a target gross profit of 70% on food, food sales are 22% of sales across the business, “but we’ve got some very strong wet sites within that”, he says. In Manchester, “I expect food sales to push towards 35-40%”, he adds. The main challenge he sees in expanding the trading area “is investing such a large amount into a new team who aren’t yet part of our culture”. Arc Inspirations works with training provider Half Full, which is run by Julia Hill, a former colleague of Wolstencroft at Whitbread. He says: “Whitbread put so much trust in me, and trained me so well. It’s very much about the customers and team; if you deliver great service to your customers, everything else looks after itself. The challenge at a new site is getting everyone else

Martin Wolstencroft, managing director, Arc Inspirations ■ Favourite Book: No White Flag – Jamie Peacock’s autobiography, an inspirational story of a skinny lad being told he’d never be good enough, culminating in him leading the Great Britain rugby league team to a historic series whitewash against New Zealand and winning every honour in the game ■ Favourite Film: The Great Escape – brings back so many fond memories of watching it with my son curled up on the settee when he was young ■ Favourite beer: Thornbridge Tzara – a great beer brewed by great people ■ Favourite place to eat: La Soucoupe – on the slopes above Courchevel, sitting in the sun on the terrace with magnificent views of the mountains, enjoying a nice long lunch with a bottle of Gevrey or two, laughing about the morning’s skiing and the previous night’s antics with the ones I love


Kith & Kin on board, but we’ve got a good reputation and have recruited some good people.” Other challenges for the business will be familiar to every operator targeting the younger market, and students in particular. “The biggest change we’ve seen is social media,” he adds. “When students finished their college day, they used to come out and have a drink. If you had to meet someone, you met them in the bar or pub. Now, they know where everyone is, because they’re all on social media. “We want people to get out, go to bars and restaurants, and enjoy themselves. The industry needs to work together to get younger people away from their social media and Xboxes, to come out and enjoy what we’ve got to offer.” For Arc Inspirations, the next phase of expansion should see the business trading at 20 sites by 2018, including a Banyan “on a flagship site in the centre of Leeds”, along with a £300,000 refurbishment of Banyan in Harrogate. Wolstencroft adds: “Beyond that, we’re looking for sites across the north. Operationally, it would make sense to look at another couple of sites in and around Manchester.” As well as checking the tables at Banyan in Manchester, when I meet him during the soft launch of the bar, Wolstencroft takes time out to greet me from the job of rejecting a four foot high pot plant being delivered by a supplier, on the grounds that the leaves could be too scratchy for customers. Few industry managing directors are quite so hands-on. “The success of our business is down to the fact that we intensively manage our sites, we obsess about the detail,” he says. “All the staff love their job and every customer has a fantastic experience. You only get that if you’ve got the right people in place, you stick very close to the business, and you’re right on top of it.”

Arc Inspirations Founded: 2000 Trading areas: Leeds, Harrogate, York, Manchester Brands: The Pit, Banyan, plus standalone concepts Staff: 400 Turnover: 2013/14 – £14.4m 2014/15 – £16.7m – this is projected as rising to £19m and 500 team members in 2015/16 2015/16 – £19m (projected)


One year part–time Postgraduate Diploma in Multi–Unit Leadership and Strategy leading to a nine–month part–time MSc in Multi–Unit Leadership and Strategy.



The key to reviving a brand


u RECAPTURE ‘TRUE NORTH’ – Successful foodservice brands start their lives with a focused position that either exploits or shapes consumer demand. Often it is the case that – far from needing dramatic repositioning – brands that have drifted off course from their original “heroic mission“ need to be put “back on point“. It is not that the original purpose of the brand has ceased to have any consumer franchise – the brand has, for a number of reasons, mislaid or forgotten what its “true north“ was! Ad hoc, opportunistic behaviour has diluted the brand proposition, confusing both brand members and customers. What the brand reviver must do is return the brand back to its “founding vision“ of what it stood for and sought to achieve. This is not to say that the brand reviver takes the brand “back in time“, remodelling the brand in the image of its original stores. No, what the brand reviver must do is take the brand back to first principles; getting everyone in the organisation to understand its founding vision and spirit. From this vantage point the organisation can successfully start to address how it improves both its marketing mix and distinctive employee/customer benefits.

What happens when a brand has lost its way? Chris Edger and Tony Hughes look at the elements needed to refresh or revive a brand

he brand reviver must refresh a brand proposition that has a diminishing customer base. Remaining customers will be delighted that the brand has tightened up its operational execution but do they truly need or love this brand? How does it benefit them in comparison to other foodservice options? In truth, the brand reviver can re-instil a sense of operational dynamism and optimistic momentum in the enterprise through his/her energy and passion but their efforts will founder unless they restore the brand’s distinctiveness. They must turn their attention to ensuring that their brand has a compelling culinary proposition with distinctive functional and emotional benefits that satisfy employee and customer needs, feelings and aspirations (resulting in attraction, loyalty and advocacy). Of course – unlike the brand originator – they are not starting from scratch. They have inherited a brand that had a differentiated position in the market place with a vibrant personality and strong reputation. This has waned in the face of a fierce competitive onslaught and/or changing consumer behaviours. So what do they do now? The brand reviver needs to go back to first principles with the brand, testing its salience and relevance, before instituting changes that – without compromising the brand’s central essence – propels back into category leading status. But what actions must the brand reviver take to achieve this objective?

Refresh Qualifiers Commentators who study, observe and write about company turnarounds are usually pretty prescriptive about what “turnaround” leaders should do when reviving a moribund organisation. They generally advocate a sequential process of transformation involving; analyse (conduct a management review using activity based costing, SWOT analysis and root failure causes analysis), plan (create a restructure and long-term strategic plan), do (seamlessly implement) and review (make incremental changes as necessary). They also point to the fact that there are various stages in turnarounds (acute needs, evaluation/assessment, restructuring, stabilisation, revitalisation and retrenchment) during which turnaround managers can deploy various strategies (selective shrinking, repositioning, replacement and/or renewal). Our view is that – whilst these perspectives are extremely instructive and useful – there are four things that revivers must do in order to refresh a brand’s proposition: u RESEARCH TRENDS AND RELEVANCE – the first thing that brand revivers should do is conduct exhaustive quantitative and qualitative analysis into macro and micro culinary trends. Whilst doing so they should ask the following questions with regards to both “imitating” and “shaping“; what are the “happening“ brands in our segment doing that we’re not? What can we imitate or “bastardise“ immediately without compromising the integrity of our positioning? How can we shape the segment going forwards? How do we leverage developing consumer preferences and tastes to our own advantage? How can we restore our reputation for category leadership and innovation?

“Often it is the case that – far from needing dramatic repositioning – brands that have drifted off course from their original ‘heroic mission’ need to be put ‘back on point’” u REINVIGORATE ‘BENEFITS’ – Having looked at nascent trends and re-established what the enterprise stands for the brand reviver now “cheerleads“ functional and emotional enhancements to the brand. Suffice to say, certain employee and customer needs, feelings and aspirations have changed since the brand was founded. Bearing in mind the extant market insight, the brand reviver must address the following questions; what enhancements to the brand can we (quickly) make now that will be of high perceived value to employees and customers (but low cost to us!)? Is the brand’s value proposition (ie price, product quality, service and environment) imbalanced, if so what elements need fixing now? What changes can we make that – in accordance with the core purpose of this brand - will make our employees and customers love us again?! What changes can we make to the marketing mix that will make us stand out from the crowd once again? u REVIEW AND ROLLOUT – Inevitably, brand revivers cannot take a scattergun approach to changing consumer facing elements of the brand. Changes need to be rigorously piloted, trialled and measured in “control“ environments prior to roll-out. That is not to say that this process should be conducted in a slow, formulaic manner. We strongly urge brand revivers to throw caution to the wind and “go big“ remodelling the marketing mix of a few key sites, albeit with slight iterations in each location. This will enable them to clarify what works – checking validity and replicability with employees and customers through the open-ended “start, stop, continue“ question.

Professor Chris Edger teaches multi-site management at Birmingham City University. This article is extracted from a forthcoming book on brands’ life cycles he is co-authoring with Tony Hughes, the former managing director of restaurants at Mitchells & Butlers and currently a non-executive director at The Restaurant Group ¡ WINTER 2015 ¡ PROPEL QUARTERLY



Being boring? Not this brewery! “


e love being unique and quirky and hate the idea of being boring,” says Sam Smith, the fifth generation of the Smith family, which continues to own the Yorkshirebased Samuel Smith brewery. “We’re also not interested in what other people say about us, that’s just other people’s views. Just judge us by what we do, with our beers and pubs.” That pretty much encapsulates the brewery to those people who know a little about the business and how it simply brews beer and operate pubs without reference to micro and macro trends and general industry-wide thinking. This has not caused it any great headaches as such because it has continued to grow its operations from its base in Tadcaster, Yorkshire, since The Old Brewery was established in 1758. It took on the name of Samuel Smith Brewery in 1886 following some earlier upheaval involving the family ultimately running two breweries in the town – the other being the well-known John Smith’s. While John Smith’s was bought-out long ago, Samuel Smith has continued to do very much its own thing to the extent that as cycles have come and gone it has frequently found

As Samuel Smith continues to successfully build its beer and pub operations, Glynn Davis finds out how it manages to stay ahead of the game

itself ahead of the curve. This has certainly been the case in the modern era under the stewardship of Smith’s father Humphrey and his brother Oliver (who recently retired). Take craft beer for instance. Samuel Smith was a major influence in the US as the country began brewing interesting styles of beer and created a whole industry that is now being taken up by the world. Smith says: “Craft beer in the US is a concept, which came about due to beers exported to the country from the UK, Germany and Belgium. We started selling our beers there long ago and we were instrumental in providing them with inspiration. We have always been very well appreciated in the US. We are now seeing British brewers who’ve been influenced by the US and so it’s gone full circle.” And Samuel Smith is now benefiting from this. Until very recently customers would frequently ask for well-known branded lagers but now they are specifically requesting Taddy Lager and Oatmeal stout. Smith adds: “It is high quality and they really enjoy it now. It is no longer seen as a second choice, cheap lager, but as a high quality beer which has an important place amongst the high quality beer which is now available all over London.” The rest of the country appears to have caught up with Samuel Smith’s thinking. “We’ve continued to expand the range,” Smith says. “Whereas most brewers did just cask ale and rode the real ale wave and are feeling the pinch now, we’ve never been like that. We innovate.”

German influence

Samuel Smiths Old Brewery in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire



He refers initially to the desire in the 1960s to brew a Great British lager and because Samuel Smith didn’t know how to brew the style, it sought out the skills in Bavaria and began brewing Ayingerbräu lager under licence in the UK. This lager became universally known as “Man in the box” due to the pump consisting of a traditional Bavarian gent in a plastic box. Smith says: “The Ayinger Brewery brewed Helles and Export – sensational beers and we got them to teach us how to brew it in Yorkshire, with all natural ingredients and a long maturation period. To begin with lager was a niche product but now lager is the British national beer.” Wheat beer was next up on the programme of brewing different styles of beer in the UK ▲ and again Samuel Smith relied on the skills



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of Ayinger to get it up and running. “We discovered it in Bavaria and thought let’s brew this too,” says Smith, adding such moves are what excite the company. “It was unheard of British wheat beer but we got in there way ahead of the game. “There’s no point in resting on your laurels. It would be boring. Let’s have some fun. You need to try things and we’ve the skills at the brewery to do it. We’ve been great admirers of fruit beers so we said let’s have a crack at it. We experiment.” Amid this ongoing addition of keg dispensed beers, Samuel Smith sticks to producing just one cask ale – Old Brewery Bitter – that is housed in oak barrels. These are made by a cooper, who uniquely is training up an apprentice, who will keep the tradition going. Tradition is not really Samuel Smith thing and the minimal production of cask it produces (compared with other regional brewers) is down to the view that the container is immaterial. Smith says: “It’s not about cask or keg? It’s about good quality – of ingredients and taste – versus poor quality beers.” There is ruthless focus on quality at the company, which has ultimately resulted in the (again) unique scenario where no big branded products are sold in Samuel Smith pubs. One by one they have been removed in preference to having small, high quality independents produce its crisps, nuts, wines, and spirits under the Samuel Smith brand. This helps the margins but Smith says it is much more about a dislike of mass-market brands and taking an anti big corporate stance. Instead, supporting small producers is its thing and yet again it seems the rest of the world has been following it on the path to artisanal goods being cool and edgy. “We’ve just done what we’ve thought has been right,” adds Smith.

Pub portfolio Exactly the same policy is employed across its extensive pub estate that runs to over 300 outlets spread across the country, including an extremely high quality grouping in London, which is looked after by Smith. It has been

“There’s no point in resting on your laurels. It would be boring. Let’s have some fun. You need to try things and we’ve the skills at the brewery to do it”

building its portfolio of pubs over many years and now sits on assets that other pub companies and brewers would kill for. Again, it was well ahead of the trend for securing sites in the capital and is now reaping the benefits. Although the company is on the look-out for additional units in the capital, Smith says the focus is more on investing in the existing estate and finding the right managers so that more is generated out if its present portfolio. This includes food, which has not been a particular area of interest but investment is now going into its kitchens and training. Smith says: “We now run different menus in the pubs and have been getting it right with sales growing all the time. It is becoming an important part of the mix. But beer will always be the most important.” Work has also been done on creating the link between the beer and food with beer used as an ingredient – including steak and Old Brewery bitter pie, pulled pork and cider pie, and organic raspberry beer and chocolate brownie – as well as recommended food and beer pairings. Such dishes are finding favour in some of the upstairs rooms of Samuel Smith pubs, like the one at the Cock Tavern, that have undergone extensive refurbishment and make excellent dining areas. It is indicative of the programme of work that the company is doing across its estate in London and the rest of the country. “We treat our buildings with a soft conversational angle,” says Smith. “We want to be faithful to the heritage. We don’t rip the guts out of them. We don’t impose a retail formula. We’re fully faithful to the heritage of the individual building. That’s when a pub is at its best. It’s not a cheap way but we’re very proud of the quality of our interiors and exteriors.” The Cock Tavern follows the extensive work done at the Windsor Castle, which had been called the Cardinal for many years due to its ecclesiastical connections with the nearby Westminster Cathedral. As part of the refurbishment there was a reversion to the original name the Windsor Castle, which did not please the church. It lobbied for Samuel Smith to reverse the decision but the company took its usual route of keeping silent and ploughing its own furrow. What is interesting is that time and again – with its beer, pubs and general philosophy – Samuel Smith has been proven to be ahead of the curve. As such it is now being joined in its furrow by a growing army of other operators that are adopting its thinking. This won’t unduly worry the company because Smith has clearly been brought up with the genes to take a strategic path regardless of what everybody else in the market is doing. Whatever steps the company takes next, I’m sure it won’t be boring for Smith and hopefully its customers who admire independent free-thinking spirits that produce good beer and run great pubs.

Glynn Davis is a leading commentator on retail trends ¡ WINTER 2015 ¡ PROPEL QUARTERLY


Walt Disney World® Resort, Florida

23rd – 27th May 2016

Your multi-un multi-unit managers are critical to achieving superior operational p performance. But world-class operators do not master multi multi-unit management by accident. Leading Operational Excellence

• Learn from a multi-unit manager who applied the lessons of the programme to turn around sales performance, almost tripling profits within six months

Mastering Multi-Units (MMU) specialises in building the capabilities of multi-unit managers to deliver operational excellence.

• Be inspired by the insights of leading thinkers and practitioners including Jim Sullivan and Prof. Chris Muller

For the first time the four-day MMU programme, which is transforming the performance of clients in retail and hospitality, is available through a public event.

• Discover new approaches to old challenges by sharing ideas and best practices with counterparts from diverse multi-unit businesses

In the apt setting of Walt Disney World® Resort, Florida, participants will:

• Prepare to apply the disciplines of operational excellence in their jobs through practical activities

• Understand how to implement the Critical Impact Activities that drive sustained profitable performance

• Visit and observe how other leading operators deliver outstanding customer experiences

Invest in world-class operations Operational Excellence Package – £3,499*

To Book or Find Out More:

All programme activities, materials, transportation in Orlando, meals and accommodation

• Visit the MMU website at opsexcellence2016 to download a booking form and T&Cs.

World-Class Operator Package – £4,999*

• Email us directly at for more information or to request a booking form.

As per the Operations Excellence package PLUS face-to-face coaching sessions with MMU consultants up to 3 months after the programme

• Call us on + 44 (0)203 713 9718 to speak with the team and ask any questions that you may have.

*Please note that flights to and from the USA are not included in the prices quoted and it is the responsibility of participants to make their own travel arrangements to and from Orlando International Airport.

“This MMU programme delivered the best possible experience to our managers, helping them understand what operational service excellence truly is and, crucially, what it takes to achieve it every single shift, every single day” Karl Jolly, Director of People, Welcome Break |

| @mmu_global #OpsExc2016


Introducing the five phases of developing leading individuals


Chris Muller examines the five steps to multi-site management competence

or more than 30 years, at least since the publication of research conducted by Kimberly & Miles in 1980, there has been agreement at both the academic and practical levels on the usefulness of the “organisational life cycle model". The life cycle model draws a picture of business development as a process akin to the maturation of a biological organism. The Five Phases of Leader of Managers Development model is an application of such an approach. It depicts development as a function of complexity and time. The curved line represents the development of the Leader of Managers (LOM). On this line we have made marks which designate the achievement of five key competencies – operations, facilities management, finance, marketing, and human resources. In this article, I will outline the progress of a true LOM and in doing so will offer a better understanding of what distinguishes them from the simple “super-operator“.


Operations We assume that most, if not all, multi-unit managers have at one time served as a single unit manager. It is often the case that the best and most effective unit manager in a given region will be hired or promoted to the level of multi-unit manager. When he/she moves into this new role at the multi-unit level, he/she is expected to bring along the hard-earned skills and competencies gained while effectively managing a single unit. The transformation of a multi-unit manager into a LOM can only be accomplished on a foundation of this operational competence. A newly promoted multi-unit manager will often have to work two or three times harder than as a unit manager, given that he/she will continue to perform some of the functions of his/her old job – concerning themselves with questions about staffing, production, and scheduling – while he/she will now also have to consider the needs of an additional two to four units when making their decisions. The inevitable increase in stress can stunt the growth of certain individuals. It tends to be the case that in challenging and stressful times we manage to our strengths. We rely on familiar habits. For this reason, it is very natural that many multi-unit managers who are highly competent at the unit operational level nevertheless get stuck, so to speak, performing the role that we have called the “super-operator”. The “super-operator” is often efficient, but he/she is not a truly effective multi-unit manager. He/she is able to control unit food and labour costs, maintain a full staff schedule, drive up customer counts, ensure a safe and well-maintained building, and pass mystery shop inspections. But he/she is prohibited from further personal development because he/she is only thinking tactically. He/she bases decisions solely on an understanding and trust in past successes while projecting into the immediate future. These decisions are often a product of habit and The five Phases of Leader of may still work for a Managers Development short time horizon in a tightly controlled environment. But if the multiunit manager is to transcend the role of the “super operator” he/she must be liberated from a preoccupation with daily unit operations Time

and see a bigger picture. He/she must come to understand that the new job requires a constant and active drive towards integration. He/ she must realise that, as a multi-unit manager, he/she is responsible for growing a cohesive network among their units.

Finance A unit manager will typically spend time focused on net operating income (primarily because bonuses are traditionally based on this line item), and will consider data relevant to a week – or perhaps a month-long planning horizon. The developing LOM must learn to take into account how an investment decision affecting one unit today may not have an impact until three or even six months later. Each new financial decision rarely affects only one unit and may have an impact on the entire district profitability. The multi-unit manager must come to see that financial management is not just concerned with “the numbers” but also with the careful allocation of scarce resources across an integrated system. The manager must recognise that profits are not just generated from unit operations, but from wise resource investments in both people and facilities. It has been said that anyone can cut costs by 10%, but only a few can spend money wisely. We would alter this to say, any multiunit manager can manage costs at the unit level, but only a LOM can plan for the future of the whole district. Learning to see not only the parts but also the financial whole leads to the awareness that cash is fluid. Cash flows from individual restaurants into the district office and only then into the corporate headquarters. The LOM who makes this vision transformation comes to have a better point of view.

Marketing Once he/she has achieved an understanding of finance, of investment and integration, the multi-unit manager can begin to cultivate a new competency, one which, when mastered, will provide a refined perspective. It is at this point in development that the aspiring LOM turns attention from looking inward at the operation to looking outward toward the customer. Marketing, in all of its components, reaches out to customers where they live and creates in them a desire to become trial users and ultimately committed regular guests. The time spent building a strong operational system will reinforce this desire by providing patrons a reason to return. An LOM is able to recognise and exploit these key points of intersection among operations, finance and guest satisfaction. At this point in the development arc, a multi-unit manager must come to internalise the idea that success at the multi-unit level requires a maximisation of brand value through marketing and customer retention. Ultimately, the goal must be to gain patrons who identify personally with the brand.

Human resources Eventually, after mastering the fundamental competencies of operations, facilities management, finance, and marketing, the aspiring LOM is able to focus on that which is most characteristic of the LOM – achieving results through the development of other people. True LOMs are those individuals who create talented teams, who develop a deep and diverse bench of promotion-ready managers, and who maintain high employee retention rates at all levels of the district. At this point in the journey, which for the best multi-unit managers should take no longer than 24 months, almost all of the work of the LOM is spent investing in the people who truly create customer value – staff.

The virtuous circle Professional operations lead to solid financial results. Financial strength allows for investment in both facilities and customer outreach through innovative marketing. Targeted marketing builds a strong brand identity that attracts both loyal customers and top performing employees. High achieving team members demand personalised training and development. Completely engaged employees are able to grow to their full potential, and, in turn, benefit professional operations. When a multi-unit manager is able to balance this delicate and complex ecology, he/she has become a properly enlightened, effective LOM.

Dr Chris Muller is Professor of the Practice, Hospitality, at Boston University ¡ WINTER 2015 ¡ PROPEL QUARTERLY



Giving an insight into the power of research


Elliotts chief executive Ann Elliott explains how doing different types of research can be of huge benefit for businesses

hen I started Elliotts almost 15 years ago, research and insight were both an integral part of our offering. They still are today but instead of research being designed and implemented just by me, we now have a team of four running a myriad of research programmes for a very wide base of hospitality and leisure clients. We are also a resource for other companies conducting research for operators and suppliers in the sector. I write research and insight separately and advisedly. There is a distinct difference between the two. You can run research and not have insight but you can’t have insight without some form of research. To me insight is the ability to translate both quantitative and qualitative data into meaningful information that our clients can use pretty much immediately to positively impact their business. I liken the process to sitting in a dark room with a towel over your head deep diving the data until there is real clarity about what it all means. Insight is the distillation of the data into meaningful information and ultimately into conclusions and recommendations for our clients. We use research and insight in a number of ways:

Using research for PR Years ago when I was at Beefeater, we paid our PR agency £25,000 to conduct research, which could then be used to influence journalists and generate coverage. It did but it was unbelievably expensive. You just don’t have to run these set pieces of brand research now to find fantastic and interesting stories, which promote the brand message. Research has always been a great way of securing PR coverage. If you look through the newspapers every morning, there will always be a piece about a quirky survey with copy probably provided by a client or its PR agency. Quantitative data is imperative for producing effective press stories. That data can be so easily and cheaply collected – online, on the street, in the restaurant, via Facebook – there is no real reason not to do this. The key though is to have the idea, the content, and the story in the first place and to then determine what research is needed to support this.

Enhancing your operations We’ve all been there: entrenched in an internal and often anecdotal debate at head office about a potential operational change, with nothing robust to inform decision-making. Research is a quick solution to find the working compromise and a route forward – a few facts can quickly shut up the simply opinionated. I have used research for clients to confirm menu design and layout, decide menu items, determine operational standards and to improve service. At unit level, operators use data all the time to manage sites efficiently (sales, gross margin, net margin, covers, covers turn, labour percentage) but research is often something they feel should be left to the marketing team (or person). The really brilliant operators I know constantly research their customers themselves using informal focus groups, ad hoc questionnaires or just relaxed conversations with their guests.


Research can engage an online audience Research is a great way of engaging an existing or target audience online. So many operators we speak to have a large database for marketing purposes, but aren't contacting them for research. A quick online survey with a database can answer so many questions, and is far from expensive. Even better, it can even be incentivised with a voucher, helping to drive footfall. On social media, Facebook and, more recently, Twitter have developed great mechanisms for quick, simple polls. Again it's a fun way of reinforcing a message, but the feedback can often be invaluable.

The forefront of mobile technology There are more and more digital means emerging. Feed It Back has introduced a platform that links to EPOS, allowing surveys to be bespoked to a customers' experience. This is particularly handy for internal initiatives, such as raising service standards. The rise of tablet devices is a big plus for research. Rather than handing over a tired feedback card at the end of a meal, customers can fill out a quick survey (and data capture form) in seconds, without any admin required by anyone.

Competitor research Research doesn't just have to be conducted only with customers of course. We do a lot of research on real life competitors – taking the time to look at what they are doing and evaluating their impact (often on a site by site basis) on our clients. There's more to this than just going to eat or drink at a competitor site to see what it's like (honestly). We examine and analyse websites, social media, menu, drinks policy, branding, location, loyalty schemes, service, in fact almost everything of pertinence, and then link that back to see where they are performing better (or worse) than our client. This research does not have to be long-winded but rather a regular commitment to looking at the competition and trying to discover potential opportunities to differentiate or improve. What is key here is to judge each competitor (and the client) by the same consistent benchmarks.

Internal research One of my role models in the sector told me recently that one of the characteristics of a great leader was the ability to listen without talking and to practice non-judgemental listening. How true that is. This is research in its best possible format. He believed that being able to do this had made a substantial contribution to his company’s ability to deliver 80% employee retention – quite a staggering figure for this sector. This listening (or research) made the team feel valued and cared for at all levels. And it enabled him to turn raw data into insight and then action. It may not seem like research as you might know it but it is.

Creating the brand story This may well be totally apocryphal but I think it took less than 1,000 customer interviews to establish the preference for one coffee brand over the other, which then became the platform for the brand story. Again this can be so easy and quick to do providing the brand with preference information, which can be an incredibly powerful motivator for customers. So gone are the days of slow research, replaced by the ability to obtain data and input quickly. Gone too is the exorbitant cost, in its place is a variety of means to secure feedback that can make the difference in a brand moving ahead or finding itself stuck. Most of us by now have heard a soundbite about data, quite often along the lines of “90% of data has been created in the last two years”. Whilst it changes every time I hear it, the message that rings true is simple: there’s no excuse anymore, research simply has to be on everyone’s agenda.

Ann Elliott is chief executive of leading sector marketing and PR agency Elliotts – Follow her on Twitter: @elliottsagency


Conference Overview

Record numbers for Propel Multi Club Conference Thursday, 5 November 2015 The Lancaster London Hotel, Lancaster Gate, London, W2

Our next Our next conference conference is is on on 20th June 2013 16 March 2016 at at The Oxford Congress Hall, Belfry Hotel

Chris Gerard London








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Conference Overview

Enterprise Inns – 50 multi-site operators interested in partnering us, rapid learnings in building 800-strong managed estate


nterprise Inns has reported that it has received about 50 expressions of interest from multisite operators keen to partner it in creating stand-alone joint venture companies as part of its "managed expert programme". The scheme aims to open between 15 and 25 managed pubs a year, part of a much bigger plan to open between 150 and 200 managed pubs a year for four years, with a proposed opening plan of 35 to 50 directly-managed Bermondsey Pub Company and 100 to 125 Craft Union pubs. Commercial director Paul Harbottle told the Propel Multi Club Conference the company is capturing rapid learnings as it builds its proposed 800-strong managed business. Of the “managed expert” scheme, pioneered with former Geronimo Inns founder Rupert Clevely in a joint venture called Hippo Inns, he said: “We have about 50 interested parties but at the moment we'll engage with just a second managed expert in the next 12 months. We want to take this slowly and do it properly rather than rush in and create 101 managed experts around the country and get it wrong. But managed experts are great for us because they bring the skill set, experience and knowledge of running great pubs.“

Developing a managed estate Of the broader progress and learnings so far in developing a managed estate, he told the conference: “This project has been on the go for 15 months, and has been solidified and ramped up in the last six months. Time selecting the right pub is time saved in trying to correct a wrong decision. It was very easy, in the early stages, to say, 'Great estate here'. Actually, standing back and using the tools at my fingertips to select the right pub is key – defining your retail offer upfront, defining the demand and then selecting the pub. Don't do it the other way around – don't find a pub and then work out what you want to do with it is a key learning. Also, always close a pub if you're going to convert it – don't try to paint a door a day and see if that works for you. The consumer needs to see a change to be able to recognise you have changed it. Get the community involved in making sure it is a success – recruit local ambassadors. If you can get the head of local PTA of the local school, or the WI


change. Great publicans, however, don't make great pub managers – and viceversa. That's probably common sense but something we've learnt. In terms of back-of-house systems – it's important to have one till system rather than have the business run under various till systems under the sun.

“Without a brand, culture is key. You need to give people reason to want to join you” Paul Harbottle or the parish council and make them feel they're involved in the decisions you make with the local pub, it's amazing how much responsibility they take in making sure your pub is a success. Don't try to take a pub from each corner of the country – if you do that and try to resource it, you end with a regional manager with just one pub and that doesn't work.”

Keys to success Harbottle added: “People are absolutely key. The most important person is the pub manager, the reason for success. The support roles are also important – they need to be in place before the openings. Without a brand, culture is key. You need to give people reason to want to join you. It's very easy to stand behind a Wetherspoon door and watch people flood in. It's very interesting, having had a lot of experience of Wetherspoon and other branded operators. A Wetherspoon comes to a new town, the metrics are that you expect to turn over £30,000-a-week and when you open the doors for the first time you do £40,000-a-week. The challenge is how you hold on to that additional £10,000-a-week that you didn't think you were going to get. In my world now you open the doors on £10,000 a week and work out how you get to £20,000; a very different way of operating because we have no brand. In a fledgling company like ours, you've got to expect staff turnover to be high because you are developing it as you go along. The brief changes as you go along and some people don't like that


Also pay your suppliers centrally – don't let that happen across the till at the pub level. Legislation is an absolute minefield. Fortunately, no-one's heard of Bermondsey Pub Company. Unfortunately, everyone has heard of Enterprise Inns. So we don't have an opportunity to learn as we go along. We needed to get all the policies and procedures in place upfront. We've had great success in doing that by adopting primary authorities – that's really helped in this process. You can overset expectations if you're not careful – it's much better to underset them. Don't be too bullish – you need to give yourself 12 months for pubs to establish themselves. Also, don't ignore history. You can't change 20 years of history at a pub that might have a drugs problem or a violence problem. You won't do it – and you certainly won't do it without a brand. You've got to be clear about the battles you're going to fight – and the ones you are going to win. The last thing is about getting great people around you, who really understand the challenge and can deliver. We've been very, very fortunate in that we've started this process and managed to get some great people who have bought the story and the vision – the likes of Steve Cash, Karen Baskett and Steve de Polo from Mitchells & Butlers who have come and joined us and been fantastic for the growth of this. Other additions to this team have included Paul Hine, head of purchasing at JD Wetherspoon, and head of purchasing at Charles Wells, Miles Selby. I think that, more than anything else, will be the reason this will be extremely successful."



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Conference Overview

Novus boss – ‘we’re transforming customer experience, changing tack on capital expenditure and evolving the offer’


ovus Leisure has unveiled an industry-first system that it hopes will revolutionise customer experience within the 45-site business. Novus, which turns over circa £95m per annum, has 30 sites with a 3am licence. Its 22 landmark nightclubs produce a turnover of £55.1m, with 57% of revenue post 9pm and pre-booked sales accounting for 45% of turnover. Chief executive Toby Smith said the company has now launched a real-time customer feedback and interaction platform that will transform customer experiences. He told the Propel Multi Club Conference: “We have big venues, a captive audience, often and one of the opportunities for us is to link the fact we have great locations, 3am licences and a brilliant, proven sales model with completely revolutionising the customer experience within that.“

NPS score He added: “One of the issues for us is the Net Promoter Score. A lot of businesses have almost become obsessed with their NPS score. If you're Wagamama, your NPS score is really important – what's the propensity your customers will recommend you to someone else? That doesn't work for me. If you go to Scarlett's on St Martin's Lane and have a fantastic experience – and would score it very positively on a NPS scale – it doesn’t mean you are then going to go to our Mabel's site in Covent Garden because you wouldn't link the two sites to our ownership. The second thing that doesn't work for us is that the majority of our customers are aged between 18 and 28 – they do not fill-in online surveys two days after they visited to win a £20 voucher for two. It's not Vintage Inns. What they do is Tweet, Facebook and use Instagram – they use social media to tell you about their experience there and then. The issue for us is: if we only build capability to measure that and review it two or three days later and then make a difference, we're only as good as everybody else in our industry.

Real-time feedback Smith said: “So we have built a real-time customer experience feedback model. It's mobile, all information comes into one place – all of the data sources. The key is that social feedback comes in a realtime to a mobile platform. It builds a data history and information, therefore, is at the fingertips of any user within the Novus


Toby Smith business. If you are a pre-booked customer, you have a customer record within our CRM system that will tell us your name, your email address, the last time you booked and what you ordered. The system also now tells us what you said on social media when you were on-site. We have that attached to that customer record. That gives you real-time insight into how to make that customer experience better there and then. We can pick up any information on TripAdvisor, Square Meal, Design My Night, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, with key words about one of our venues. Tiger Tiger, London, on a Saturday evening after 9pm, gets over 400 individual pieces of data. The reality is how you deal with 400 pieces of data – it's just too much to get your head around and take action and make that experience better. The next stage for us has been to build a real-time dashboard – and the key is to respond in seconds to that customer. We now have the ability to respond to a customer that Tweets in seconds.“ Smith also revealed that Novus has adopted a new approach to capital expenditure.

Capex schemes He told the conference: “The issue for us is that with big sites and large rents, it's very difficult for us to undertake capital expenditure in the normal way because it's really expensive for the business. So we put some new fundamentals in place as to how we approach our capex programme. We want a proven general manager in place so we're investing behind people we know. Wherever possible we pick sites that are trading in growth. I'm not a big believer in using capex to reverse decline


unless you really have to – or if you've run out of sites in growth. Taking somewhere that's doing well and has a good customer following and then triggering it on to the next level is best practice for us. We've done seven capex schemes in 2015. We've now paused because at Christmas our business goes into a completely different dimension. At our Balls Brothers business in Berry Court next to the Gherkin, the last capex we did, we shut for just three days and invested £150,000 – historically, the business would have shut for two-and-ahalf weeks. The refurbishment started on a Sunday and it reopened on a Wednesday night so nearly zero closure costs and it is in 17% growth post reopening. At Tiger Tiger, London, our biggest taking site, we spent just over £800,000 and closed for ten days. Tiger Tiger, London, had never been completely closed before. Last week, the site did £202,000 net – the only time it's ever done more than £200,000 outside of December.“ Smith reported that Novus has evolved the offer at its Ball Brothers business, its seven-strong premium wine bars business in the City of London, taking £7.5m per annum. The brand has become a “drinks emporium“, broadening its wine focus. He said: “We wanted to make a real statement about quality. We wanted to be a drinks emporium so we ripped up the existing drinks range and started again. The icing on the cake was making sure the team was very knowledgeable as well – so they could back up our new drinks range. We took our drinks range and extended it, particularly around champagne and wine, where the list is now 73 bins long. That's actually a slight reduction from the previous wine list. But we've kept all the old favourites but introduced some of the new emerging wines – and we're a big supporter of English wine as well. We added the Meantime range alongside our core products. There's also now an opportunity to have a more exciting soft drinks range so there are so big changes around that. The biggest change is taking a business renowned for its wine and making it the same for spirits. We tackled gin, whisky and fortified wine. We flavour-mapped our gin, whisky and fortified wine range and mixed with recommendations. As a customer you can see whether your preferred gin, is spicy, citrus or floral, and then you can flavourmap that with an accompanying tonic or mixer that actually fits your flavour profile. We have two completed and they are going great guns.“



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Fast-casual is shaking up the UK dining scene Technomic senior co-ordinator, editorial content, Rachel Royster looks at the menu categories and brands within the segment helping to drive growth

Pret A Manger, ranked 14th in Technomic’s UK Top 100


echnomic’s Top 100 UK Chain Restaurant Report shows a 6% increase in annual sales and 4.3% increase in units across the 100 largest UK chains for 2014. Growth came from both full-service and limited-service restaurants, the latter of which saw a sales increase of 5.9% among the top 100. Within limited-service, the fast-casual segment stood out as a major growth sector, with an 8.6% increase in sales and a 5.7% growth in units. Let’s delve deeper into menu categories and brands within fast-casual that are helping to drive growth. The sandwich category, the UK’s largest fast-casual segment, saw a 7.3% increase in sales for 2014. EAT and Pret A Manger led the top 100 sandwich category; both chains are known for high quality fare prepared fresh daily, which is packaged for grab-and-go consumption. Pret A Manger, ranked 14th in Technomic’s UK Top 100, offers soups, salads, sandwiches, sushi and hot offerings and excels at customer service. Its units are bright and airy, with seating and Wi-Fi to cater to professionals and students. The chain recently opened its first hospital unit, which could indicate that non-traditional expansion is on the horizon. EAT, which is ranked 48th, boasts an extensive selection of rotating food offerings with seasonal updates. Hot and cold sandwiches, hot pots, soups, pies, salads and breakfast are all prepared daily at a central commissary. The chain is heavily focused on speedy expansion, opening ten units in the first half of the year with plans in the works for an additional 30 sites across the UK over the next three years. The Asian menu category was a standout in 2014, with the health-focused Asian concept Itsu taking a huge bite of fast-casual restaurant sales. In 2014, Itsu increased sales by 12% over the prior year and grew its units by a whopping 9.3%. The chain, ranked 76th, offers handrolled sushi, noodle dishes, grilled meats, soups and desserts made fresh daily. Its “eat beautiful” philosophy encompasses everything from its preparation and packaging to sourcing from UK suppliers

when possible. Similar to Pret A Manger and EAT, customers can order hot dishes at the counter or grab sushi, salads and other cold options in the grab-and-go section. The chain plans to continue expansion outside of London over the next year, with ten to 15 scheduled openings. Dominating the UK’s fast-casual chicken segment is Nando’s, which ranked tenth in the top 100 and had a 10.1% increase in sales last year. Founded in South Africa in 1987, Nando’s specialises in flame-grilled chicken that gets its heat from a marinade made with African bird’s-eye chillis. Peri-peri chicken itself is of Afro-Portuguese heritage, and Nando’s is deliberate about reflecting these influences throughout its menu and décor. The grilled preparation and spicy flavour of the chicken appeal to health-conscious consumers as well as those seeking bolder flavours in their dining options. Nando’s had a year-on-year unit growth of 6.9% in the UK and continues to expand its presence abroad, with plans to open ten sites in India over the next year.

Burger boom Leading the 5.8% growth of the fastcasual burger category is Gourmet Burger Kitchen, ranked 79th in the top 100. The chain specialises in made-to-order gourmet hamburgers prepared with topquality ingredients like 100% AberdeenAngus Scotch beef. In addition, the brand offers more than ten house-made sauces, which it recently launched for retail sale. Flavours like baconnaise, garlic mayo and green goddess sauce can be used for topping burgers and as a dipping sauce for Gourmet Burger Kitchen’s chunky skin-on fries. Customers order at a counter and food is prepared in full view of patrons thanks to an open kitchen layout. The brand’s recent opening in Abu Dhabi could indicate that further global expansion is in on the horizon. Patisserie Valerie, ranked 75th, led the patisserie category with sales growth of 5.6% and unit growth of 3.3% in 2014. Its cafes feature house-made speciality

cakes as well as gourmet sandwiches and salads, pasta dishes and breakfast offerings. Individual-size treats are displayed in large bakery cases and can be ordered with coffees, espresso drinks and frozen beverages. Products are handmade using artisan skills and traditional baking methods. Each cafe is created using unique décor, but all offer a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere. The patisserie chain recently announced its expansion into Debenhams retail stores, where it will open concession shops in under-utilised spaces. Learning from fast-casual’s success, some quick-service chains are incorporating elements of fast-casual into their stores. For example, McDonald’s began trialling table service earlier this year at select locations. Customers can order from digital kiosks or from staff members using digital tablets, and have their food delivered to their table. In addition, Greggs began revamping several shops as food-on-the-go outlets. The new look and design offers more space for browsing and is meant to meet the needs of busy shoppers who are eating on the go rather than at home. The updates also include outdoor seating and free Wi-Fi. As we enter 2016, fast-casual chains will continue to shake up the dining scene. Look for emerging chains like Le Pain Quotidien, Pod and the US import Five Guys to continue increasing unit counts to meet customer needs, and by next year, we could see these chains dominating the top 100. Also expect quick-service and even full-service restaurants to unveil more fast-casual elements to broaden their reach. Ultimately, consumer dining habits are changing and the growth of fast-casual is a reflection of what diners want from today’s foodservice experiences.

Rachel Royster is senior co-ordinator, editorial content at Technomic ▲ ¡ WINTER 2015 ¡ PROPEL QUARTERLY


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Best late-night companies recognised at Dusk 'til Dawn




ALMR honours the best of late-night sector The best in the late-night hospitality sector were honoured on Tuesday, 27 November as the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers’ (ALMR) Late Night Awards were dispensed at the third annual Dusk ‘til Dawn ceremony. More than 300 delegates representing the UK’s night-time economy gathered at London’s Cafe de Paris for the event, held in association with Propel. Awards were dispensed across seven categories recognising the vitality and diversity of late-night hospitality, including a special Icon award recognising the 25th anniversary of the Ministry of Sound nightclub. The Columbo Group brand Blues Kitchen took home the award for best food offer while Revolution Bars Group was crowned best drinks winner. The Deltic Group scooped the best entertainment award while Novus Leisure’s The Forge site took the title of best late-night venue. Intertain was named best for late-night marketing and promotion while Beds and Bars won the award for best service and team development. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls paid tribute to the dynamism and hard work of the sector and emphasised the night-time economy was vital to the UK, to the health of local town centres and to the safe social life of customers. She went on to highlight the changes the sector had undergone over the past decade and the “continued relevance of a sector that was worth supporting”. ¡ WINTER 2015 ¡ PROPEL QUARTERLY


Study Tour 2016


ALMR and Propel National Restaurant Association Show Study Tour in Chicago £2,395 for ALMR Members £2,595 for Non-ALMR Members To book your place please contact: or call 07780 826228

The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and Propel Info have opened their study tour to the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago in May 2016 for bookings. Next year’s visit takes place between Thursday 19 May and Sunday 22 May. The ALMR and Propel Info launched their ȴrst study tour trip to the NRA show four years ago, with the trip led by Propel Morning Brieȴng managing director Paul Charity. The NRA draws 58,000plus industry professionals from all 50 states and 100 countries, all seeking the newest innovations and up-to-the-minute information about trends and issues. The ALMR and Propel Info trip provides: insights from industry experts on the rise in fast-casual dining, social media, new and emerging brands, menu development, sta΍ management, two study tours and a host of other issues – with 70 free education sessions; involves a tour of Chicago’s hottest concepts and a market overview brieȴng sessions from US experts. Places are limited.

Itinerary Thursday 19th May 2016 - Fly to Chicago from Heathrow - Check into Hotel - Free afternoon sponsored dinner Friday 20th May 2016 - Market brieȴng - Study tour of Chicago concepts - Hosted dinner Saturday 21st May 2016 - Full day at NRA Show or study tour of more Chicago concepts - Hosted dinner Sunday 22nd May 2016 - Flight Home - Arrive 8am Monday 23rd Sponsored by


Time to consider what’s on the menu? HospitalityGEM managing director Steven Pike talks about the importance of a strong food offering in pubs for operators and how late-afternoon availability could be a great opportunity


he inexorable rise of food in pubs is something everyone in the industry is aware of, but as we have seen recently, this trend has reached a significant tipping point. Research by AlixPartners and CGA Peach found that, for the first time, the number of licensed restaurants in the UK has overtaken that of drinks-led community pubs. There was a 4.4% decline in the number of wet-led pubs and bars in the last 12 months, compared with a 6.9% growth in licensed restaurant sites, which clearly demonstrates the importance of a food offering. A trend that is continuing to move at that speed is impossible to ignore, but pubs are at the forefront of that shift – the increasingly competitive market is encouraging publicans to be innovative with their offering and some very creative forms are emerging that can act as real inspiration to others. While in previous years it was all about the gastro-pub, the market has spawned formats like the dual operation, where eating and drinking areas are clearly differentiated, and the craft pub, with its focus on beer fans but with a creative food offering to complement it. We’re also seeing pubs where a deli or an organic focus is the key differentiator, for example. For those pub operators evaluating the food offering in their site, or considering whether to introduce one, it’s worth looking at customer feedback that proves just how crucial it can be to a venue’s success. Our research found only 1% of people say they never eat food in a pub, with over 60% saying they usually or always order food when they visit, and women identified as slightly more likely to do so. In an analysis of demand at different dayparts, we found little evidence that people were looking for more pubs to be open at breakfast. But nearly one in five people said that, not only would they eat in pubs during the late afternoon (3pm-6pm), but also this was actually their preferred time of day to eat out. Since many pubs do not serve food at that time of day, it represents a great opportunity for those that do to shout about it, and perhaps have a differentiated offer for market segments most likely to take advantage of this.

Demonstrating the popularity of the Great British pub, 62% said they were more likely to return to the same pub for food than they would a restaurant, perhaps indicative of the community feel a pub can offer. This loyalty increases in people aged about 50 years old. In terms of cost per head, a huge 85% would expect to pay roughly £10 to £15 on a pub meal, while the most popular times to eat were dinner and lunch. Interestingly, our research highlighted a significant interest in food during the late afternoon – traditionally the most difficult time to order food in a pub! Nearly half of those questioned said they would be more likely to eat in pubs if food was available between 3pm-6pm, identifying an opportunity for those not serving at that time of day already, and for those that are, an incentive to shout about it more – and to target key market segments, such as families at weekends, keen to relax over a leisurely late lunch. Something else to consider is that when asked to think about the pub they visited the most in the last year, and how often they visited it, nearly 40% of people only frequented their favourite pub two or three times a year. The challenge for an operator is to find ways of keeping their pub front-ofmind so that two or three times a year becomes three or four.

Food for thought These figures can provide real food for thought for pub operators, if you can excuse the pun. Firstly, with an edible offering proving so popular, it’s worth looking at how your pubs present this to customers. For instance, what are the unique selling points of your menu compared to others? How do you present these through all your communications, from website to social media? Is it immediately obvious that you do food, and can customers clearly see what it is and how much it will cost them? The right visual images of food can have a powerful impact so it’s worth considering using these on your communications. When people leave your pub, what do they talk about to others or on review sites – is it your food or is this more of an after-thought? With pubs identified as more popular for return visits than restaurants, and customers demonstrating more loyalty to this type of establishment, it’s worth ensuring the friendly, ▲ ¡ WINTER 2015 ¡ PROPEL QUARTERLY



community air that only a pub can provide is being harnessed to For those pub operators keen to gain greater intelligence on push your food offer. Pubs are rooted more in helping people to their food offering, we’ve seen a development in our mystery socialise, whereas restaurants are under more pressure to come guest service proving very popular. When a guest reviews their up with new concepts that people try once or twice and then meal, they select what they ordered, view a photo of what it return a few times if they like it. Pubs that focus on what it is that should look like, and answer some questions on the specification, makes a brilliant host are the ones best positioned to capitalise providing specific details that allow the operator to measure on this, and generate great word-of-mouth. consistency and identify those where work is needed – whether You need teams that actively engage with guests and let that is retraining staff or changing the specification. their personality come across, and also see their role We are also beginning to see pub operators invest as a combination of both service and sales. In properly in back-of-house training. We have both cases, the manner in which this is done worked with some of our clients to define clear “It’s worth is the key to success. Having a programme development pathways for people wishing to evaluate sales and service can help to taking a hard, honest to work their way up in the kitchen and for embed the right behaviours and practices, companies that want to keep hold of their look at your pub with as can driving the balance between best people – another big issue for the uncompromising eyes and meeting brand standards whilst also pub industry. By giving employees a role to offering a memorable guest experience. seeing if there’s anything play in influencing their own development, There are other aspects an operator that could be letting you by providing mentor support and good should consider if they wish to encourage quality training materials on everything down; there’s no excuse customers to visit more often for food. from cooking eggs to preparing fish, we for it not being Our research asked people to rate what are as an industry beginning to reposition influences them the most when deciding immaculate” professional cookery as a serious career. which pub they choose to eat at. It’s no surprise Food is now a core part of the offer for most that “menu and quality of food” was top of the pubs, and creative innovations are driving further list, with “location” also hugely important. However, expansion. But in an evolving market, it’s important to stay the “cleanliness or hygiene rating” of a site has a real ahead of the curve and see what works and what doesn’t from the impact, rated above any other factor, including atmosphere, perspective of the guest. service and other people’s opinion. In other words, they are more likely to choose a pub to eat at because it’s clean and hygienic than because it has a great atmosphere or the service is Steven Pike is managing director dependable. It’s worth taking a hard, honest look at your pub with of HospitalityGEM uncompromising eyes and seeing if there’s anything that could be letting you down; there’s no excuse for it not being immaculate. HospitalityGEM is the UK’s leading expert in guest As an extension to this, we asked customers to detail what experience management (GEM). The company provides they believe pubs that serve food are most likely to get wrong. hospitality operators with tools for intelligence gathering, Not surprisingly given the question, the food itself was most guest engagement and staff learning, working closely with likely to not live up to expectations. But the pub or toilets being them with a personal approach and modern software to dirty was second on the list (followed by warmth or friendliness, help generate revenue growth through effective GEM. an uncomfortable atmosphere and timings of service). The HospitalityGEM's services include mystery guest visits, interesting thing about this is that it is not reflected in the way online feedback, social advocacy, performance analysis pubs usually evaluate themselves – a mystery guest report may and learning management. Clients include Wagamama, not need as many questions about cleanliness as service, but Brasserie Blanc, Malmaison and Peach Pubs. perhaps the weighting of any scores should reflect the impact of For more information, visit: getting it wrong.



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Advertising Feature

Data isn’t just for Christmas


he hospitality sector is notorious for reaping the rewards of Christmas cheer but as an industry are we really making the most of the festive fervour? Footfall, spend and pre-booked sales all increase throughout November and December offering a huge opportunity to build loyalty amongst new and existing customers. This starts with offering a great experience but also by engaging with customers so they actively share their data and connect with you digitally. Connecting with your Christmas customers to kick start 2016 growth plans could drive loyalty and repeat visits throughout the year. This isn’t as simple as just taking an email address on a booking form. Knowing why they visited, what they enjoyed and what interests them beyond your brand gives you a platform to engage with them beyond Christmas. Simon Blackbourne, Founder Tahola said: “We have seen a surge in hospitality brands wanting to know more about their customers. That means you need to combine a range of data sources to create a true picture of what influences customer purchase. Social media, purchase data, time of visit and total spend, when combined, give a really useful picture of each customer’s attitudes and behaviour. Overlaying different data sources means you can create relevant, timely offers and content that customers are more likely to share and act upon. Customer contact details are really important but they are useless if you don’t know enough not to become an instant delete in their inbox. Overlaying EPoS, booking data, purchase data and social media


Christmas is one of the hospitality industry’s busiest periods and this year over a quarter (27%) of people say they are preparing to spend more whilst over half (60%) say they won’t cut back either1


insight and analysing it quickly can give you a significant competitive edge. There are lots of ways to make this an easy reality for your business. There are countless social media listening tools and automated business information reporting systems. However, the real value isn’t the data in isolation, it is in the data mixology, combining the right information to generate meaningful insight.” Pairing labour and stock data on top of your customer picture creates an even richer view of the business. For example, you may identify a negative feed from your social media channel and, on the same screen, quickly identify that this was due to insufficient staffing levels. It is undeniable that getting the right data feeds in place to run your business is crucial but there is so much more that the right data can do to help you grow. Christmas provides a great opportunity to get thinking about capturing customer data and connecting with them via social media. It could kick start your 2016 and help you shake off the January blues. 1

Greene King Leisure Spend Tracker Report (23rd September 2015)

For more information about how Tahola can provide a data mixology solution for your business visit or call 01442 211122 or email


Take a bow: Saluting the success of the Salutation


lt’s not an easy time to start a career in the pub industry, especially when the pub in question is situated in a small village in the middle of the country. So why did Peter Tiley feel confident that this would be a good career move? “It wasn’t my intention to run a pub,” says Tiley. “I really wanted to launch a micro-brewery. I knew that running pubs meant unsociable hours but I really wanted to get into the beer world, so I started experimenting with home brewing.” He started looking around the West Country for industrial spaces to enable him to upscale his brewing project, but without much success– until the Salutation Inn in Ham, Gloucestershire, became available. “I got a call from my dad to say a pub we both knew called the Sally (Salutation) was up for sale,” says Tiley. “The pub used to brew its own beer in the back of the pub, and so naturally my dad thought it might be a good place for me to brew my beer.” So although Tiley had reservations about running a pub, he went to have a look at the Sally. “It needed a bit of TLC,” he says. “It really was in the middle of nowhere and wasn’t the ideal place at all, but for some reason I fell in love with it.” At the end of 2012, Tiley spent a few months negotiating with the previous owners until a price was finally agreed in March 2013. “Within that month I left my job and left London and went straight into my new career,” he adds. It was a tough transition, not least because he didn’t have a personal alcohol licence.

Peter Tiley quit his successful career in London in 2013 to take over a village pub in Gloucestershire having never pulled a pint before and within two years it won CAMRA National Pub of the Year. Sonya Hook finds out what makes it so special

“There were things I wanted to do before taking over but there really wasn’t time as I was too busy from day one,” Tiley says. Luckily the previous landlord gave Tiley a crash course in running a pub, including tips on how to change a barrel and clean the lines. In addition to this, Tiley’s wife Claire had to stay in London for another three months until she was able to get a job in Bristol and relocate. “It was hard and I was really in at the deep end, but I had a strong vision and that kept me going,” he says. “Plus I really didn’t want to fail after making such a drastic life change.”

Laying the foundations While the pub clearly needed some work, the foundations for a successful business were already in place. “It had a skittle alley already and it had a good reputation for real ale,” he says. The pub didn’t run many events initially so then it became about making it into a “classic traditional quintessentially British ale house”. As well as the skittle alley, the pub has a piano and often has singalongs. Some events involve swapping and sharing local and home-grown food. It even boasts apple wassailing events. On Thursdays the Sally often has a “Village with no pub” night, where the team sends flyers around one nearby village to encourage many of the residents to all come out on one co-ordinated pub evening. “Recently we did it for Rockhampton and the pub was packed – it really works to get them all out in one go,” says Tiley. “I became a bit obsessed with events and made sure we had at least five things a ▲ ¡ WINTER 2015 ¡ PROPEL QUARTERLY


Feature month. Generally none of these events costs much money – we don’t hire bouncy castles or karaoke gear. As long as it’s within the brand values and we stick to those core things then the community starts to build up around these events and people’s social lives start to revolve around the pub.” The thing that holds it all together, he notes, is the strength of feeling in the pub of friendships and of feeling welcome. Tiley says: “We’re not making huge amounts of money, but for a pub in the middle of nowhere we are

Food: These days a strong food offer has become a big part of many successful pubs, but Tiley was adamant from the start that food would not be part of the core offer. “We don’t do food in the evenings because it gets in the way – so many pubs are now like restaurants, or are trying to be like them,” he says. “I wanted a traditional pub where you come in to see friends and just sit, drink and chat. I like it when people come to swap and share; it turns the pub into a trading hub.” Tiley explains that he had a vision from his childhood of when his father would drink and chat with his friends in the pub on a Sunday lunchtime. “Someone would bring in a rabbit and he’d swap it for a home-made chutney or something,” he says. “I remember sitting there as a kid with my soft drink and just loving it all and it’s a culture that I really wanted to recreate.” Food does have a role in the pub but, says Tiley, it’s a misconception that you have to do food in the evenings. “You have to employ a chef and have someone to take the orders; there is a level of expectation then around the food and its quality, plus you then have to clear it up and keep wastage down,” he adds. “And alongside all of this there could well be a pub down the road offering two meals for a tenner.” He admits he had to give in and have a lunchtime menu, “otherwise we would have no daytime trade at all”. The pub offers a simple pub-like lunch with three main dishes: ham, egg and chips (using the pub’s own pigs and eggs and potatoes), Ploughman’s and a third dish, which changes daily. Tables can’t be reserved and they aren’t covered in condiments. The pubs has its own pigs and chickens, which appear on its menu, and with more land available Tiley explains he is considering lamb next. In addition, on the first Monday of each month the pub has a guest chef who cooks just one dish for dinner. Details of each month’s chef are listed on the pub’s website in advance.


“We’re not making huge amounts of money, but for a pub in the middle of nowhere we are doing well and the business is profitable”


doing well and the business is profitable. It definitely looks worth my while to carry on, but the main thing is that I am happy that we can run a wet-led pub in the middle of nowhere.” It wasn’t long after Tiley got involved that the pub started winning awards. He adds: “We won our first CAMRA award really early – it was a local one but it was a big thing at the time as it topped a well-known and highly-regarded pub in this area. And because it was my first pub and I had never pulled a pint before the local papers were really interested in my story, so it just snowballed after that.” After two full years of business, revenues grew by 40% on the first year, and Tiley says he expects this year to be up again by an additional 50%, following the CAMRA National Pub of the Year 2014 award win. “In my first year here revenues were up by 25% compared to my predecessor’s last year,” he says. He puts the initial interest down to word of mouth, social media and the personal touch. “I worked every single shift on the bar at first and this allowed me to control the level of service customers were getting,” he says. “I went ▲

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Beer: Beer can be profitable, according to Tiley, especially now there has been a resurgence of cask ale and craft beer. “If you provide an interesting bar and become known for your beer then it is enough of a draw,” he says. And since February 2015 Tiley has also managed to get started on his dream project of brewing his own beer. “The Salutation now has its own beer – we’ve done a pale ale and a best bitter; our porter has been really popular and might even become our flagship beer,” he says. Tied in with this project the pub now invites brewers across the country in for brewing sessions, allowing the public to see brews taking place. Tiley adds: “They brew a tweaked version of one of our beers just for us. The last one we did we also had a band in and a barbecue alongside.” Currently the pub is limited to a ten cask run so the beer is only sold at the bar of the Salutation, but the next step might be to sell to local pubs as well, he explains. “At the moment I want to concentrate on brewing the best beer we can possibly brew,” he adds.

the extra mile with the customers to ensure they had a good experience, and then word started to get around.” For now he is developing the brewing side, which eventually might lead to a relocation of the brewery in order to expand its capacity. He will also keep working on fine-tuning the pub’s programme of events. “It’s hard to know what to do now that we have won the award,” he says. “I do often ask myself whether I would like to run a second pub, and the answer to that is ‘probably’. “It’s been hard work and on some days we are exhausted, but really I am over the moon – I left London and won pub of the year. I get to mess around with beer and work with stuff I am interested in. On the whole I am pleased and proud of it all.”


Beer and cider selection: “It’s been hard work and on some days we are exhausted, but really I am over the moon – I left London and won pub of the year. I get to mess around with beer and work with stuff I am interested in. On the whole I am pleased and proud of it all”


The beer and cider selection is kept updated, but its most recent line up included the following:

Real Ale Butcombe Bitter Wye Valley Butty Bach Oakhams Citra Goffs Black Knight Butcombe Haka Tiley’s Best Bitter

Cider Tom Oliver’s Perry Barnes and Adams Tyndale Gold Barnes and Adams Baynham Court Perry Tom Oliver’s Goldrush Tom Oliver’s Making Hay Tom Oliver’s Shezam Tom Oliver’s Traditional Roger Wilkins Medium Roger Wilkins Dry

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Looking up could help capture the next big idea W

Taking in what’s around and photographing it on your mobile phone may prove to be an inspiration says Elliotts director of strategy and development James Hacon

e are in a world where looking down is becoming ever more the norm. Whether walking to a meeting, sitting in a coffee shop or even, dare I say it, in an internal meeting, it seems that most of us can't help but stare at our devices. Recent statistics show we pick up our phones more than 1,500 times each week and spend an average of three hours and sixteen minutes a day staring at our handheld devices. Health advice highlights this irregular neck position causes strain on your spine and has the potential of serious issues into the future. The shocking statistics and medical advice are of course a stark warning in their own right, but I see another consequence for not ever looking up – a lack of learning from what you see every day.

Inspiration from the world around you In my role, I am responsible for driving a culture of innovation internally at Elliotts, as well as working with leaders of companies across the sector to help inspire them and think about their own future. Part of this work sees me guiding study and concept tours around cities both here and overseas, with clear objectives of what I'm to highlight aligned with my client’s strategies. This type of activity helps give you the time to close down your email and restrict your phone usage to photography, with the result being an opportunity to take in what’s around you. The same result can be enjoyed to a lesser extent when going about your own daily work or life. Some studies suggest a general consumer is exposed to more than 5,000 brand advertisements or messages a day. Being commercially minded you are of course more aware of this than a general consumer, making your own judgements and opinions on the quality of the concepts and their delivery. All of this daily exposure and the subsequent opinion is stimulus in which to build insight, develop ideas and look at ways you can “borrow” from others.

Capturing the inspiration With so much stimulus in the world around us, it’s all too easy to lose the really juicy stuff to the everyday grind.

“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of coloured glass that have been in use through all the ages.” ~ Mark Twain

You know what I mean, you see a great advert and think wow, we could do something just like that with our own twist and by the time you get to think about it, it’s gone. Luckily we all have smartphones with some of the best camera technology built in. Your phone is your way of quickly capturing the things that capture your imagination and saving it for later. I take hundreds of photos, no probably thousands, each month and they are of anything and everything. Menu design, creative dish presentation, great adverts, interesting chalkboards, innovative products – I could go on and on, but you catch my drift. While at the time that image may not be anything more than something that interested me, every week I dig back through my photos in meetings or with clients to highlight something I think could work really well or just to add some new thinking. Being someone with the drawing skills of a toddler, I find nothing works better for quick impact. With thousands of photos it’s important to make use of what you’ve captured. I’ll regularly use down time on the tube or train to flick through the photos and condense my growing collection. My hard and fast rule is delete anything if you’ve photographed a better version since, don’t have more than one of any shot and if you think it’s not that inspiring when looking back, get rid. By going back through regularly, it helps to refresh you on what you’ve seen.

Where to look As a sector we can become very focused on others in the same category. Looking a little broader often brings the best results. As a first step, look to other operators that you may not always consider you compete with, because ultimately you are still vying for the same hard earned pound. For instance, as a pub operator go and check out what the food-to-go operators are up to and what you can learn here. The next step is to look beyond our sector and overseas. I am most often inspired by brands in the other experiential sectors; travel, leisure and entertainment. Disney theme parks for instance are leading the world when it comes to use of technology to enhance customer journey in a physical environment.

“We don’t look to other FMCG brands for inspiration” ~ Becky Akers, Propercorn design chief When you’re next out and about between meetings, try leaving your phone in your pocket and look up. You never know what will inspire you and how that will help your next big idea.

James Hacon is the director of strategy and development at Elliotts, the sector’s leading specialist marketing, insight and PR agency ¡ WINTER 2015 ¡ PROPEL QUARTERLY


Oakman Inns and Restaurants have worked with Reynolds for over seven years. Armend Aljo, Procurement Manager, shares his views on why the relationship continues to grow from strength to strength. 1. Armend, why do you continue to use Reynolds? We have been working with Reynolds since the very first days of Oakman Inns. When Peter Borg-Neal and I looked at the list of suppliers we needed to start the Oakman Inns business, Reynolds was one the obvious choices, given our collective experience from previous businesses. To this day, we continue to use Reynolds – not only for fresh produce, but also for dairy, cheese, and other items.

2. What strengths does Reynolds have as a supplier to Oakman Inns

There are many reasons we choose to work with Reynolds, but one in particular is provenance. At Oakman Inns, we pride ourselves on using, as much as is possible, fresh British produce. Reynolds has a vast range of fresh produce that is grown in our country. Our food concept is based on the quality of the products we use, which require little intervention from our chefs. The quality and freshness of the produce supplied by Reynolds, is second to none, which is very important for us. When it comes to service, Reynolds nears perfection. Delivery times are hit almost 100% and there are seldom any issues with availability, damages or indeed product quality. It is frequently forgotten how much good service adds value in business and improves staff motivation.

3. How well do you think Reynolds understands your business?

When constructing our recent spring menu, we benefited greatly from the knowledge and experience of Reynolds food development team. They presented many great ideas to us, specifically emphasising seasonality. One of the new items on our menu, sourced from Reynolds, is our award-winning cheese platter, which is drawing fantastic feedback from customers as well as our own team. In preparation for the menu change we also joined Reynolds’ marketing team on a tour of new and exciting restaurants in London. This insight, coupled with the sharing of some relevant market research, was hugely helpful to us, ensuring we keep up with the latest trends within the food industry. We think this added value support justifies the long term partnership we have with Reynolds and shows that they truly understand our business. We have already in place a schedule of working days planned for the year ahead including visits to growers and menu development sessions for autumn and Christmas menus.

4. Would you recommend Reynolds to other operators and why?

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It is not difficult to ‘sell’ something that is of the right quality and just ‘works’. The team at Oakman Inns would have no second thoughts in recommending Reynolds to anyone. One of the main reasons for saying this is that Reynolds greatest assets are the people who work there. From our account manager to the food development team; the marketing guys and the senior management team – everyone has great professional and personal attributes.

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Wind of change:

How Sticks ‘n’ Sushi blew itself onto the international scene Japanese restaurant Sticks ‘n’ Sushi has become an international brand but as UK chief executive Andreas Karlsson explains, it’s had to make some changes along the way


reating the right culture is imperative for any business that wants to succeed – and the foodservice industry is no different. It’s a journey that Japanese restaurant Sticks n’ Sushi has had to make as it has grown from its home in Copenhagen into the international brand that it has become today. That road eventually led the company from Denmark to London but UK chief executive Andreas Karlsson admits the journey has been a long one – and it is not yet complete as the company looks to expand further. Sticks ‘n’ Sushi was founded in 1994 by Kim Rahbek Hansen, his brother Jens and Thor Andersen. And despite the trio being desperate to get to London, it wasn’t until 2012 that the first UK restaurant opened in the capital. In order to do so Sticks ‘n’ Sushi had to be prepared to change. Karlsson, who previously worked for fellow Japanese brand Wagamama, told delegates at this year’s Chris Muller and Propel Multi-site Management Masterclass it has taken longer than they thought – but the founders knew it had to be done. He says: “The only thing they (the founders) had in their head was they were going to go abroad. They were going to go to London – London was the place to be. That was the dream. But to go from a small little place like Copenhagen to London creates and needs lot of preparation. What they did was change the cultural mindset of the organisation. They started speaking English at meetings, training manuals, agendas and minutes – they were all in English. They were totally clear they were going to go from little Copenhagen into the big world.”

taking on understands the values and DNA of the business. As a business we look for people with big, big smiles and very small egos. What we did as a business was capture the culture of how we want to be and how we want people to behave towards each other. We talk to each other, not about each other. Then there was the insurance policy, making sure the food was right.” Karlsson, who joined the company in 2011, admits there were “a few sleepless nights” working out how it was going to take a Danish-owned Japanese restaurant to the UK. But he says it was helped by the success of Copenhagen-based Noma, which has been named the world’s best restaurant four times in the past five years. He adds: “Being Danish has been an advantage to us. Denmark as a brand is great so we used that. It’s good to be foreign. We communicated that we are actually from another place but we serve good food and are ultimately a Japanese restaurant. The blessing to open up in London is you always get one chance to get your guests to come in and if you’re then good then you have a chance to survive.” The company now has four sites in London and will open its UK first venue outside the capital in Cambridge next March.

Capturing the culture Karlsson says this philosophy was used when it came to employing people across the business. He adds: “It’s not about learning the mechanics of the job, it’s about paying some attention to making sure the fit is right and the person you are

Key Learnings Andreas Karlsson gave delegates the following three pieces of advice to help them grow their business: ALIGN STRATEGIC EXPECTATIONS: “If you want to do something make sure everyone is aligned – it’s not some secret stuff at board level and the executive team. Be transparent and share that with the organisation, even if it’s not going to happen exactly how it was. The benefits of letting everyone know (what you are doing) are a great, great strength of any business.” INVEST IN YOUR TRAINING: “If you really invest in the training element that normally takes care of the rest.”

Sticks n’ Sushi Covent Garden



DO WHAT YOU DO BEST: “Our first restaurant here in London was not the Covent Garden restaurant; it was actually out in Wimbledon. Why did we open in Wimbledon first? That’s what we know best from Copenhagen. The majority of the restaurants in Copenhagen are in areas like that where people live 52 weeks a year. They go out, the demographic is right and we have a stable business. That’s what we knew and that’s what we did first. We did not end up going for something in the centre of town before we know what we do best works.”

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An ‘unholy’ alliance against alcohol Nicola Sturgeon


Derek Rutherford

The anti-alcohol social movement is having a greater influence on public health with the help of two key people says Paul Chase

his year we have seen two significant events concerning the ongoing neo-temperance campaign against alcohol. The first was the publication in September of the opinion of the advocate general of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) Yves Bot on the legality of minimum unit pricing (MUP). The second was a three-day conference in October of the Global Alcohol Policy Alliance (GAPA). The common factor is Scotland. It was the decision of the SNP government in Scotland to introduce MUP that was being contested by the Scotch Whisky Association and others; and the GAPA conference was held in Edinburgh – and financed by the Scottish government, NHS “Health Scotland” and the World Health Organisation (WHO). Let’s look at each of these in turn:

because he’s making a judgment about what an EU member state can or can’t do, and Scotland isn’t one; it’s a country that is part of a member state. Whilst the advocate general’s opinion did not, in and of itself, sound the death-knell for MUP, it certainly makes it very much more difficult to implement. If, as expected, the full ECJ confirms Bot’s opinion, the matter will return to the Scottish courts for a decision and this will present Sturgeon with a considerable mountain to climb, and may set the scene for an even more protracted legal battle in Europe.

The Global Alcohol Policy Alliance conference

The GAPA conference exemplifies the growing unholy alliance between “public health” and old-fashioned BibleMinimum unit pricing – the result! bashing temperance. Sessions included “Building I think it is pretty clear the advocate general Support for Protecting Children’s Right to Grow It was “difficult was not a fan of Nicola Sturgeon’s pet project Up Free from Alcohol Marketing”; “Alcohol and his opinion struck a potentially fatal to justify” minimum Marketing: the Need for Radical Action”; blow to the whole ill-conceived measure. and “Public Health versus Big Alcohol in the pricing as it appeared Amongst other things he found that fixing World Cup of Alcohol Marketing”. Just a tad “less consistent and a minimum price for a unit of alcohol could obsessive you might think! As the chances effective” than increasing only be justified if the Scottish government of MUP diminish, we can clearly expect neotaxes and “may even could prove that alternative means of temperance to turn to restrictions on alcohol be perceived as being curbing excessive consumption, such as marketing – a term it uses interchangeably discriminatory” increasing alcohol duty, would not deliver the with advertising. Another session at the same, or substantially the same, benefits – but GAPA conference was titled “Scotland the without restricting trade and the free movement Brave – Minimum Unit Pricing”. This mock-heroic of goods. He concluded it was “difficult to justify” representation of a policy that arose when Sturgeon minimum pricing as it appeared “less consistent and effective” was the SNP’s health secretary chimes well with the evangelical than increasing taxes and “may even be perceived as being sentiments of the other key speaker who shared the platform discriminatory”. Ouch! Take that! with her, one Derek Rutherford. In a recent blog, lifestyle economist Chris Snowdon referred This judgment was a little surreal in that the Scottish to Rutherford as “the most important temperance/public health government doesn’t have control over alcohol duty – that is a luminary you have never heard of”. And so he is. It is extremely ▲ power reserved to Westminster. That is not a concern for Bot



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“What I find interesting is the unholy alliance of moral temperance and medical temperance and the clever way in which the old temperance organisations have insinuated themselves in to the current public discourse around alcohol”

telling that Sturgeon should choose to be joint key speaker with such a figure. Rutherford joined the International Order of Good Templars (IOGT) when he was just nine years old, and was a prominent member of the now-defunct UK Temperance Alliance. He also trained in theology and clearly sees alcohol as an affront to God. Rutherford also became a director of the National Council on Alcoholism (NCA), which started getting state funding in 1972. This was replaced by the state-funded Alcohol Concern in 1985, but three years earlier Rutherford had walked out after a row with the NCA’s new chairman who said he had “no time for a bunch of Methodist teetotallers”. Rutherford returned to the UK Temperance Alliance, which in turn created the Institute for Alcohol Studies (IAS) – ostensibly an independent research organisation. The IAS is owned by a charity called the Alliance House Foundation on whose board sits a range of historical temperance outfits that time forgot – including “IOGT International”, which is what the “Good Templars” now call themselves. I’ve never read a piece of IAS research that wasn’t entirely negative about alcohol and its effects, so its independence has to be in doubt. One of the developments that have breathed new life into what would otherwise be a bunch of moribund temperance cranks is the development of the whole population approach to alcohol harm reduction. This approach succeeded the disease theory of alcoholism. The supporters of this believe that measures that reduce alcohol consumption across the whole population, such as the alcohol duty escalator and MUP, are the key to reducing alcohol harms. This is the opposite of targeted measures and a thin disguise for the old temperance ambition to reduce and eventually eliminate alcohol consumption entirely. This was music to the ears of Rutherford. In an interview in the magazine Addiction, he acknowledges the difficulty for temperance campaigners of a view that alcoholism comes in people not in bottles. He says: “The decline of this view and its replacement by a public health model really meant a return to the temperance perspective I acquired very early, which has always accepted that the problem is all to do with alcohol, and that if consumption increases then so will the level of harm.” What I find interesting is the unholy alliance of religious and medical temperance and the clever way in which the old temperance organisations have insinuated themselves in to


the current public discourse around alcohol. Rutherford’s IAS has established a strong relationship with the WHO and IOGT International eventually relocated to Sweden. This was perhaps more than just a fortuitous coincidence. The Nordic countries of Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark have long operated government alcohol monopolies with strict controls, and these countries were the epicentre for the development of this new public health approach to the control of alcohol-related harms. By the early 1970s a small group of radical addiction specialists began to focus on what could be done at the policy level to reduce alcohol harms. These addiction specialists worked with a Finnish historian-turned-social-scientist named Kettil Bruun. Their basic ethos was that public health should become an instrument that holds capitalism – “Big Business” – to account. Government would curb commercial excesses in the public interest – which “public health” would define. Alcohol issues were the first to be tackled and, as we have seen, demands to control alcohol consumption have widened into much broader demands with regard to the control of food – fat content, sugary drinks and so on. The GAPA conference brought together a broad range of these people for a state-funded anti-alcohol jamboree. Amongst them is Thomas Babor, lead author of “Alcohol, No Ordinary Product”. Babor is one of the inheritors of Bruun’s whole population approach and has been a key influencer of the WHO’s global alcohol policy. “Public health” has morphed into a socialist project and as such it has attracted cause-oriented activists who a generation ago might have joined a political party to achieve their aims. Now such people have submerged themselves into movement politics. The links between Biblical temperance, a left-leaning “public health” movement and the Scottish state are very clear. The Scottish taxpayer is funding the GAPA conference, as it funds Alcohol Focus Scotland – the Scottish equivalent of Alcohol Concern. If Rutherford is the “Godfather of Temperance”, Sturgeon is its fairy godmother. Rutherford is now 76 years old, and his key speaking role at the GAPA conference was billed as his swansong. He’s left quite a legacy.

Paul Chase is a director of CPL Training and a leading commentator on alcohol and health policy


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Feature Cox s Yard in Stratford-upon-Avon

Getting back into the management game


hat goes around, come around, so they say, and there are business cycles in the pub sector just as there are everywhere else. As befits an operator that will notch up 140 years in the game in 2016, brewer and pub operator Charles Wells understands those cycles all too well. In 2006, the company made the strategic decision to exit from operating UK managed pubs in order to focus on its leased and tenanted estate. In the years that followed, alongside the bread-and-butter business of letting pubs to individual licensees, Charles Wells formed successful partnerships with a new breed of savvy operators with a foot firmly in the casual dining camp, such as Peach Pubs and Yummy Pub Company. So the announcement at the start of 2014 that Charles Wells was investing £1.3m to refurbish a run-down hotel in its home town of Bedford to reopen it as a managed business, sparked some interest in the sector – probably not least from some of those multiple operators who would like such sites themselves. Chares Wells is far from the only regional operator to take a renewed interest in the managed model over the past few years. Brakspear has a growing managed business, Frederic Robinson has converted a handful of higher profile tenancies into managed sites, ▲

With Charles Wells now once again reinvesting in its UK managed division, John Porter talks to director Craig Mayes about the reasons behind the decision and its plans for the future

Craig Mayes, director of Charles Wells managed pub division ¡ WINTER 2015 ¡ PROPEL QUARTERLY


Feature Social media Building and maintaining a social media following is an important part of the strategy for success within the Charles Wells managed pubs division. Mayes says: “As part of the launch process we’ve become quite social media savvy, starting with d’Parys where we had Facebook friends before we opened the door”. In the run-up to an opening, pictures of the build process and new staff members are posted online, building to an invitation for followers to trial the menu at a soft launch. Once open, new followers who provide feedback online can claim a free glass of wine. Mayes adds: “It’s worked amazingly well. We normally have a team member who’s a dedicated Facebook champion, and we expect the business to post at least three times a week – but we’re not prescriptive about what they say.” d’Parys Facebook followers gained: Pre-launch (Oct 2013-Mar 2014): 1,027 Post-launch (Mar 2014-Sept 2015): 2,224 Salisbury Arms Facebook followers gained: Pre-launch (Feb 2015-Mar 2015): 200 Post-launch (Mar 2015-Sept 2015): 353 Merlin’s Cave Facebook followers gained: Pre-launch (Feb 2015-Mar 2015): 697 Post-launch Mar 2015-Sept 2015): 874 and Hook Norton reopened a large pub with letting rooms under direct management this autumn. Factors influencing this trend include the finite number of suitable lessees with the funds and business acumen to operate larger sites, the challenge presented to traditional pubs by slicker branded food outlets, and the need for greater support from pub owners for licensees in areas such as the back office, recruitment and training, particularly as the industry tries to deal with a shortage of kitchen skills. Craig Mayes, director of Charles Wells’ managed pub division, points to another influence. “We were working with the Yummys and the Peaches, who are doing a really good job, and making some quite decent money out of some of our pubs,” he said. “They’d bait us a little bit, tell us ‘you’re not really operators, you don’t know what it’s like’. So we thought why don’t we have a go ourselves? Rather than own award-winning pubs, why don’t we operate award-winning pubs?” The question quickly moved from being rhetorical to real, although Mayes


makes the point that a new business plan for the leased and tenanted business is also firmly in place. “It’s a dynamic business, everything about it is growing, and we’ve got some great tenants – but there’s also no doubt that some businesses are becoming harder for tenants to run,” he says. That first site, a new pub and restaurant with rooms called d’Parys, opened in spring 2014 as part of a new business division called Apostrophe Pubs, and went on to win several awards. A second Apostrophe site, the Merlin's Cave in Chalfont St Giles, opened in July 2015. Another site, the refurbished Cox’s Yard in Stratford-upon-Avon, opened in September and adapts the Apostrophe format into the first of what Mayes calls “our Riverside Collection”. These larger sites need a minimum of 120 covers, but alongside Apostrophe Pubs, a second managed division called Pizza, Pots and Pints opened at the Salisbury Arms in Cambridge in March 2015. This division will specialise in transforming smaller community sites to offer a focus on pizzas and one-pot meals served from a wood-fired oven, with menus designed around sharing as well as a contemporary craft drinks offer.

Starting from scratch Things are clearly moving fast, particularly since Mayes has had to rebuild Charles Wells’ managed operation from the ground up. “We had no infrastructure, all of the managed systems had gone eight year previously,” he says. Chris Gerard, owner of the acclaimed Innventure pub restaurant business was bought in as a consultant when d’Parys was at the planning stage. “Chris helped us with our systems, our processes, our back office, and did the design,” says Mayes. “We got it off the ground from there.” Gerard was also, Mayes acknowledges, “a bit of insurance”. He adds: “If we’d really messed it up then we might have offered him a lease, but we didn’t! We made a real success of it, and we are now going quite quickly.” Gerard still works on the design of new ventures, but has stepped back from the operational brief. That leaves a very flat structure. Mayes reports directly to recently appointed chief executive Justin Phillimore, and in turn has an operations support manager, Ros Phillips, reporting to him. There is support available in areas like training and PR, some outsourced and some through Charles Wells’ head office, but essentially each unit is run by a managing partner, which reports directly to Mayes. “We’d seen the pros and cons of the different ways managed operators develop,” Mayes says. “They start small, are quite entrepreneurial, with different menus at each sites, and gradually become more structured. We were quite keen that our businesses maintain that individual and entrepreneurial approach. “We want the managing partners to run


Pizza oven at the Salisbury Arms


Burger dessert

Merlins Cave restaurant

their pub as if it were their own, we don’t want them to come into it thinking there’s a big head office, because there isn’t! So, we control the supplier base, they can’t just go to a local butcher. We know what everything costs. I talk to the managing partner about menus every week, and we have some guidelines for our managing partners in terms of the menu.” So while, the obligatory burger and steak on the menu at each Apostrophe has to be cooked and served in a certain way, there is more flexibility with other menu choices. Chefs are given considerable freedom to decide how the dishes will be cooked and what accompaniments are served . “The menu guidelines are such that you’ll find a pork belly at every pub, but they won’t all be the same,” says Mayes. “On the specials you’ll have a fish, meat and vegetarian dish, and it has to be either Asian, Mediterranean or British, but within that they can play.” This approach has helped with chef recruitment, says Mayes. He adds: “It’s tough; we have exactly the same challenges the rest of the industry does. I think there are a lot of frustrated chefs out there who are being told what, when and how to cook. We’re trying to engage our guys’ cookery skills, so for example we don’t buy cut fillet steak, we buy a strip and they have to trim, cut and prepare it. Our commis chefs are learning about the different cuts of meat and fish. We’re having some success, but it’s slow.” The targets are very clear. Apostrophe pubs need to turn over £20,000-plus a week, or £1m a year. “Our first one, d’Parys, hasn’t really dropped below £30,000, so £1.5m to £1.6m a year,” says Mayes. “Merlin’s Cave is about £24,000 net a week and Cox’s Yard will start to be over £20,000. We have high expectations, because we invest quite heavily.” He adds: “Cox’s Yard is a different entity, its 1,000 square metres in total trading area and is a game changer for us in terms of where Charles Wells is going.” The Riverside format could turn over £70,000 to £80,000 in the summer, and “we’ve agreed heads of terms on a second riverside location in Bedford,” said Mayes. The ratio of staff costs to turnover is about 33% in the Apostrophe/Riverside format, and falls to about 21% in the Pizza, Pots and Pints format, which has less skilled kitchen teams. Mayes says: “Pizza, Pots and Pints is about crispy, home-made, artisan pizza, and terracotta pots of dishes such as macaroni cheese, coq au vin and chorizo cheese melt, all baked in our wood fired oven. The pints are our beer range. “The first one in Cambridge was a bit of a trial. We’d done something previously with the site that was a disaster, we needed to turn it around and this has been a phenomenal success. They’re smaller sites, but it hasn’t dipped under £10,000 a week and it makes money for us at that level, since it’s got a different wage structure.”

Retail reach Although only one Pizza, Pots and Pints is trading when we speak, Mayes is already talking in the plural, and believes the format could stretch into the casual dining space. He adds: “It’s making money and it’s a good brand, so we could probably go faster with it. It’s not just something we’re thinking about for pubs, we’ve been looking at retail units.” The range of formats will also help with staff development. Mayes believes the step up from deputy manager to managing partner is a big one in a business as large and busy as an Apostrophe site, with Pizza, Pots and Pints providing a stepping stone for someone ready to take on their first manager role. Gross profits in the high 60s to 70% are being achieved on food and drink across the managed business, with food accounting for about 60% of sales in Apostrophe formats and 40% in Pizza, Pots and Pints. The wet sales split is ▲

Craig Mayes, director managed pubs Charles Wells

Having started his career at Marriott Hotels and also worked at Scottish & Newcastle Retail, Craig Mayes joined Charles Wells in 2007. He was a finalist in the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers’ Operations Managers Awards in 2008, and has held roles including a stint as director of operations for Charles Wells’ French operation John Bull Pub Company. ■ Favourite Book: I enjoy reading biographies, particularly of successful people to gain inspiration. I think my favourite is Steve Jobs ■ Favourite Film: Gladiator ■ Favourite Hotel: Hospes Mariciel, Majorca – my wife and I always go away for our anniversary. We said we'd always go somewhere different, but we went there and just keep going back ¡ WINTER 2015 ¡ PROPEL QUARTERLY


Feature d'Parys bar area

roughly even between wine, soft drinks, and importantly for a brewer, beer. “Wine is important, and we challenge our brewers because the craft beer market is changing, and we need something more innovative, more creative,” says Mayes. New beer brands such as Young’s London Stout, Charlie Wells Dry Hopped Lager and collaboration IPA Dogfish Head have helped meet higher consumer expectations of beer, “and with all of our dishes there’s a beer and a wine match”, adds Mayes. Events tailored to each site also help to drive customer traffic. “In the more rural sites we need a more frequent calendar of events,” says Mayes. “We’ve done a cider matching night, and a create your own whisky blend evening. In Cambridge, a two-for-one pizza night on Monday is big for us.” Expansion plans should see the managed estate grow to about 25 sites in the next five years. More immediately, one more Apostrophe site and a second Pizza, Pots and Pints are expected to be trading early in 2016, with a further Apostrophe site to follow in March 2016, and the third Pizza, Pots and Pints in April. The second Riverside site, in Bedford, is due to open in the company’s next financial year, which starts in September 2016. Despite this schedule on the managed side, there should be no shortage of opportunities for tenants and lessees either, believes Mayes. He says: “d’Parys, Merlin’s Cave and the Salisbury Arms were existing sites where the licensees had indicated they wanted to leave, and none of them through business difficulty. Cox’s Yard was an acquisition and the new Bedford site is an acquisition. The core driver is how do we grow the Charles Wells pub business? By running these sites ourselves we can do that.


“We’re trying to get the balance right. At its heart Charles Wells is a family business that is all about the relationship with everyone we work with”


“We’re trying to get the balance right. At its heart Charles Wells is a family business that is all about the relationship with everyone we work with. Yummy have just taken another site with us in Stoke Newington. That could have been a Pizza, Pots and Pints, but our relationship with them is important. If licensees indicate that they want to leave their site we’ll have a discussion about the right approach for the site.” While acknowledging that the high customer expectations for food quality and service standards can be a challenge for tenants, he adds: “I don’t think we have as big a problem as the industry overall because we’ve been quite specific about matching the type of pubs we have to the type of operator we need. Some pub companies might rush it a bit, at Charles Wells we can take long term decisions.”

d'Parys burger

Please enjoy Pernod Ricard brands responsibly


Grabbing a slice of the action Former Benugo head of development Rupert Davidson decided four years ago to go it alone and open his own cafe and spurred on by its success he recently embarked on his dream project of opening his own pizza restaurant. Sonya Hook talks to him about the journey


ust six weeks after opening his latest Brighton venture, Rupert Davidson had printed a whopping 15,000 menus in total for passing customers to take home with them. “We put some out every morning and by the end of the day they are all gone – it’s great self-marketing” he says. His traditional Neapolitan pizzeria, Fatto a Mano, is attracting more and more customers as a result of these menus, along with word of mouth and social media. And despite this minimal investment in marketing, it all seems to be working well. But how did Davidson make the transition from his role as head of development at cafe operator Benugo to restaurant owner? Davidson, who turned 40 this year, began working for himself in 2012 when he opened a cafe in Brighton called Bread & Milk. And despite his years of experience in the cafe business, including his role at Benugo, it was a brave move – not least because the North Laines area of Brighton already had its fair share of independent cafes. “I always wanted to have my own business and with two young children, and now another on the way, I felt this was the time to do it otherwise it would never happen,” he says. “I found this site in Brighton and it works really well for Bread & Milk. I was slightly worried about Trafalgar Street in the North Laines area – but luckily the area has become even more vibrant than it was five years ago. There’s hardly ever any property vacant and it’s a real commuter road with people walking up to the station; we are also near local businesses and the main city college, so there’s lots of daytime trade.”

Rupert Davidson (left) founder of Fatto a Mano

The rent isn’t too bad for the area, he says, but it’s a small site, so it does have operating challenges. “But we benefit from having a great frontage, which makes it special,” Davidson adds. The cafe also manages to attract a good balance of takeaways and eat-in customers. “It’s now about 50:50, which works well,” he says. But the playing field for Bread & Milk has become tougher, Davidson admits. “It was one of five cafes on Trafalgar Street and now it is one of 16 places that sell coffee on that road alone,” he adds. At the start of this year our sales were slightly down on last year and we were worried about how to make up the numbers, but since April we have really picked up again. The product is easy to tweak but the service is the bit that needs work and now we have an amazing team, and we make sure we invest in training.”

“I always wanted to have my own business and with two young children, and now another on the way, I felt this was the time to do it otherwise it would never happen” He has confidence in the brand and consequently is planning a refit. “It is successful, particularly in making great coffee but also in making great breakfast baps and toasted sandwiches (for breakfast and lunch), which have become our speciality,” he says. “We want to redesign the cafe to better support this and to give the brand more definition, so that we really stand out from the rest.” As part of this he also wants to bring the bakery element to life. “I would like to open another store which has the bakery part really visible,” he says.

Back to his roots As a trained chef Davidson has always had a desire to get back to his roots and open his own restaurant. He says: “Also, I love pizza and I had worked with wood fired ovens and spent a lot of time in Italy with my family so it seemed to be the right move.” When the site became available in Brighton’s London Road area, he thought it was an opportunity that couldn’t be missed. In recent years the area has morphed from a rundown district to a trendy part of the city. “This end of London Road in particular is really coming to life and being surrounded by competition is great – it brings people to an area and being nestled between pubs is perfect,” Davidson says. ▲











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Feature But it wasn’t an easy project, he admits. “The run up to opening was one of the most difficult things I have ever done,” he adds. “There were a lot of challenges with the site – we had to remove the floor to raise it up, and we needed to put in a new shop front and ramp at the front. But it does now mean we can open up the whole shopfront on a summer’s day, so it was worth the investment.” In its first five weeks Fatto traded really consistently, and Davidson says he is “delighted”, although the challenge has always been filling the weekday lunchtime slot. At the weekend, meanwhile, business is booming. On Saturdays he can have 50 people on a waiting list for the 60-cover venue (the restaurant doesn’t take reservations except for groups of six and over). It can also seat 16 people outside when possible. Davidson says: “It operates like some of the great restaurants in Naples; people don’t mind waiting and we have a reasonably quick turnover. We call the next person on the list as soon as we give someone the bill.” Another gem from Fatto a Mano is that kids eat free. “And they really eat free, so they get the same quality of pizza as well as a drink and ice cream,” he says. Catering for families was important for Davidson, not least because he has two young children and a third on the way. “It can be torturous taking kids out to a restaurant but I believe you should do it, and nowadays kids aren’t as educated in this country about food,” he adds. “Making it more accessible is important. The business has to make money but I also want people to enjoy themselves.” And so far sales have grown steadily since its August start date. “I am very happy with trading in the evenings so we just need to boost the daytime sales and then we will be totally reaching our financial targets – I feel very confident we will soon reach these targets and go beyond them,” he says. Davidson believes Fatto a Mano has the potential to expand, and once the London Road branch is bedded in he may well look at ways to open another in or around Brighton. He says: “But first I need to focus on this site and make sure it is financially successful, because if it grows it will need to be self-financing. At this point I want to produce amazing pizza and give customers exceptional service. When I feel we are nearly there then I will look at another site but I won’t ever plan to head into central London – instead I will be looking for up and coming areas, which don’t have crazy rents. I would be looking at about 60 covers and even up to 80, but no higher. At the moment we only need 25 diners in here and we have an amazing buzz; maintaining this atmosphere is really important.”

Learnings from Benugo Davidson was with Benugo from its early stages, back in 2000. “They only had two stores when I joined,” he says. “I was initially recruited to go and grow their lunchtime sandwich platter business in the city but that soon became one of many responsibilities when the production manager left a couple of days after I started.” He went on to manage a couple of stores, which soon led to a group of stores when Benugo won the contract to put cafes onto the trading floors of Deutsche Bank. “My role then developed into head of development, responsible for all new design and build projects and for purchasing and product development,” says Davidson. He finished working full-time with Benugo in 2012 but continued to work with the company on a consultancy basis. “That has now come to an end as I now focus fulltime on the expansion of both Bread & Milk and Fatto a Mano,” he says. “Of course I am highly respectful of what Benugo has achieved; I was a big part of it and it was a huge part of my life and professional development. The challenge for Benugo now is to continue winning contracts in the public catering sector and maintaining the ones they have. It is a very diverse company operating across many platforms and the bigger this gets the more challenging this becomes.”

What’s unique about Fatto a Mano? Of course the most important element to Fatto a Mano (which means “handmade“ in Italian) is the pizza. “We are continually sourcing new ingredients, if possible from Sussex or Italy,” says Davidson. “We offer two specials every week – and plan to increase this to twice a week, we constantly look at what works and what needs tweaking.” The menu is simple but there is a focus on traditional techniques and recipes, and Davidson’s aim from the start has been in creating the best Neapolitan style of pizza in Brighton and the UK, described on the restaurant’s website as “not thin and crispy or a pizza pie, but soft and pillowy”. The dough is made on site twice a day and proved for a minimum of ten hours. Pizzas are cooked in the wood fired oven at over 450 degrees. The menu includes a selection of red pizzas (with a San Marzano tomato base) and white pizza (without a tomato base), priced between £5 and £9 each, as well as the Italian folded Calzone pizzas. “It is good value and we can deliver this by keeping the operation simple,” says Davidson. “We don’t have ten different glasses on the table; that is not what we are about. We have just two styles of glasses and one type of cutlery.” He also branched into offering takeaway food earlier than expected, due to demand. “We had to invest in special boxes and new packaging for various dishes,” he says. “It’s tricky because a Neapolitan pizza doesn’t hold its quality for very long once cooked so we never planned to do deliveries, but local people can come and pick up a freshly made pizza, and have a drink whilst they are waiting.” ¡ WINTER 2015 ¡ PROPEL QUARTERLY


The stripe symbol and the letters BOC are registered trade marks of The BOC Group Limited. Both BOC Limited and The BOC Group Limited are members of The Linde Group, the parent company of which is Linde AG. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited. Š BOC Limited 2012

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Apple Powerbook 100, from 1991

The web has untangled so many opportunities The technology revolution since 1991 means the hospitality sector has never had it so good says Intelligent Business Systems managing director Gareth Powell

ext year Intelligent Business Systems celebrates its silver anniversary as a sector leading EPOS and hospitality management solutions provider. A remarkable journey has literally flashed by so fast it seems like only yesterday when my wife and business partner Dee and myself left the hotel industry and set up our own technology business. Is it really a quarter of a century since John Major was prime minister, Bryan Adams topped the singles charts for 16 weeks with “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” and thousands of British shops defied Sunday trading laws in a bid to boost trade during yet another economic recession? A quick Google reveals there was a war in Iraq and they are fighting a different one with the same tragic consequences a quarter of a century later. A Clinton (Bill) was running for president of the United States and another (his wife Hilary) is doing the same in 2015/16. One plus is the price of a pint of beer hasn’t dramatically altered. In 1991 the average cost was £1.40 compared to today's £3.31, an increase of a mere 91p (taking inflation into account). Two events in 1991 irrevocably changed how we live and work. Sir Tim Berners-Lee quietly announced the World Wide Web project and software on the alt.hypertext newsgroup and the first website, "" was created. Berners-Lee’s invention was the catalyst for an unprecedented digital and technology revolution, the equivalent of stone age man discovering how to make fire or the Romans inventing lead pipes to carry water two millennia ago. Looking back, we’ve never had it so good and it’s only going to get better as technology works for rather than against us. I thought it would be fun to highlight 25 ways the technology revolution benefits the hospitality industry. There are many more but these are the ones that immediately spring to mind. 1 Networking devices on the web changes every aspect of how the hospitality industry does business. Who remembers the pub landlord dropping off the week’s takings at the brewery on a Friday? 2 In a digital rather than analogue world, words, sounds and images are converted to numbers faster, cheaper and more reliably than we ever imagined possible when we were first getting excited about the storage capacity of the floppy disc.

3 Talking about floppy discs: a USB flash drive the size of a stick of gum holds 32GB of data – the equivalent of 22,222 floppy discs. 4 But even USBs are overshadowed by the Cloud, where unlimited information is stored securely and cheaply. 5 What’s more, the Cloud is open all hours with an internet connection. 6 Operators access and analyse reports and business intelligence real-time 24/7. 7 Polling in the Cloud means sales and stock data and reports are available in seconds as opposed to days and weeks. 8 We’re not only storing more but we’re also sending it faster. Fibre connectivity dramatically increases the speed and amount of information that can be dispatched around the globe. 9 Not that we need to attach strings. Wi-Fi allows us to run IT assets without cables – while devices on the same wireless network seamlessly share files and data. 10 Automated processes give operators far greater control over how they run their businesses – kitchen video management systems are really taking off because they deliver consistency at every stage of the food preparation process. 11 Application programming interfaces enable EPOS providers like us to easily integrate with other applications such as PayPal, Flypay, Res Diary, S4 Labour, ApplePay, VeriFone and Tahola. 12 Thanks to the high speed internet we are always connected online. The shrill piercing sounds of dial up modems are a distant memory. Thank goodness. 13 Universal and cost effective broadband allows us to work remotely – from training and problem solving online to setting up and configuring solutions on different continents. 14 The simple cell phone the size of a house brick has evolved into a portable computer, an all-in-one tool for work and play. 15 Ditto the tablet, although it cannot match purpose-built EPOS terminals designed to meet the challenges of busy, and often wet, hospitality environments. The difference between backs and forwards on a rugby pitch!

16 However, just like modern rugby forwards, touchscreen terminals are increasingly sophisticated. Highresolution screens place the emphasis on graphics rather than words. Cash registers and picture-free black and white screens are museum pieces, like seven-inch black vinyl pop singles. 17 Payment apps are generating millions in investment capital. Numerous players are entering the market. Expect to see plenty of consolidation over the comings years as the strong prosper at the expense of the less robust. 18 Social media gives operators a costeffective platform to bypass traditional media and talk direct to their customers. 19 And smart apps let everyone get very creative when they engage and chat. 20 Loyalty and rewards schemes are managed and run online, free from time consuming and expensive print, design and distribution costs. 21 Online shopping and takeaway options provide additional revenue streams. 22 Technology solutions like ours are configured to specific needs rather than one size fits all. 23 Small multiples access the same technology tools as the big players. We see this on a daily basis as successful operators with several sites successfully compete with those with hundreds and thousands. 24 Like the cost of a pint of beer, price points have stayed the same even though the technology has advanced beyond our imaginations. Your buck definitely has a far bigger bang than it did in 1991! 25 Everyone has upped their game – businesses ignore customer expectations at their peril. And the next quarter of a century? I don’t have a crystal ball but I do know the next five years will see many more exciting innovations come to market. We want to be leading from the front as usual. Here is to the future. It’s only just begun.

Gareth Powell, is managing director of Intelligent Business Systems – ¡ WINTER 2015 ¡ PROPEL QUARTERLY



Round-up of first Propel & ALMR Bar & Nightclub Conference Propel and the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers have launched the first Bar & Nightclub Conference. Below, Propel reports on the key news to emerge from the conference CGA – food and a quest for ‘experiences’ have become key elements of a big night out Food has become a bigger part of a big night out, not least because restaurants have become better at keeping customers longer, CGA chief executive Phil Tate told the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and Propel Bar and Nightclub Conference. The late-night universe has seen a 26% increase in the number of restaurant bars since 2010 – and a 13% drop in the number of circuit bars. Tate reported just 5% of customers never visit a restaurant on a night out. “Over 25s are starting their night in a restaurant and restaurants are getting better at keeping customers longer with live music and great cocktails as we see with Turtle Bay, for example,” he said. “It is ‘experience’ that is driving the mission and (customers) are looking for something different.” Tate reported a survey found 39% of late-night customers had been to a street food event, 38% to a music festival, 28% to a ticketed indoor large event, 22% had attended an “underground” event and 16% had visited an organised rooftop party. Tate reported, though, that late-night consumers, of whom 72% are aged between 18 and 34, spend 33% more than the UK average on a going out occasion. He said: “The days of heading aimlessly into town and going where the night takes you have gone. It is all about pre-planning and, typically, where to eat,

and where to end the night are pre-defined and the cornerstone of the night. Also the circuit mentality of (visiting) seven bars and then the nightclub has been replaced by three venues maximum. For those 34% of late-night customers under the age of 24 there are differences. They typically leave the house after 10pm, not 7pm, go into the final destination later, and typically leave at 3am to 4am.” Tate forecast an even more fragmented late-night market will develop to meet consumers’ multiple and variable needs. He added: “We need to myth-bust. 43% of consumers in the 18-34 age bracket think a nightclub won’t meet their needs on a night out. They are basing this on old and out-dated perceptions of sticky floors and warm drinks. We need to educate them about the outstanding venues and experiences the modern late-night sector has to offer. Engage them early via social media midweek to make sure venues are on their route plan, then engage them in the venue with a compelling offer of high quality drinks and adaptive ranges. We are not blind to the business implications of this advice and the challenges on cost for both supply and staff. We need innovations in how can we deliver cocktails in a time efficient way that doesn’t erode margin and frustrate the customer in a busy venue? This is coming through with things like frozen cocktails or also barrel-aged drinks. 95% of consumers would try something new in venues, meaning partnership with brand owners are key.”

Tokyo Industries sets out expansion plan and moves to broaden offer Tokyo Industries, the operator of 32 bars, nightclubs and festivals led by Aaron Mellor, has set out its expansion plans. Mellor, speaking at the ALMR and Propel Bar and Nightclub Conference, stated that a Tup Tup Palace would open in Manchester in Christmas 2015 followed by the company’s fifth BrewHaus in the same city in spring 2016. The company’s City Vaults site in Manchester will undergo a full refurbishment and concept change in spring 2016. Halo in Leeds will be subject to a full refurbishment and concept change in September 2016. Mellor also revealed the company has moved to broaden its offer with the introduction of artisan pizzas and pies, a much larger range of draft and craft products and the development of an improved cocktail list and training by Liquorists of Manchester. The company has also opened Louie’s Liquor Store in the basement of its Huddersfield venue. It offers 100 specialist bourbons and whiskeys and is an “indie dive bar trading between 5pm and 5am nightly with no cover charge”. Mellor said the operating costs are low as the main venue was already covering the site’s fixed costs.


Tokyo Industries has also launched “night markets”, encouraging community groups to use its BrewHaus spaces. “These were really designed to drive footfall in slow trading periods,” said Mellor. “Instead, they’ve proved massively influential opening up our business to demographics that would just not have previously visited a club.” The company will also develop its Waterside Hotel in Newcastle, acquired as part of a package in 2013, by adding six bedrooms to take the wtotal to 30 and “re-imaging the hotel with a more boutique look”. Finally, Tokyo Industries is expanding its The Joint by Get Baked dirty burger and craft beer offer with sites under development in Headingley, Fallowfield and Jesmond. The first site located within one half of the Halo premises in Leeds is achieving turnover of £35,000 a week.


Deltic Group boss – we’re achieving two-year payback on investments Deltic Group chief executive Peter Marks has reported the company is achieving payback on its investments in two years. The company, which operates 58 nightclubs, will look to increase the number of site investments to 15 to 17 a year, up from the current figure of 11 to 12, thanks to the current returns, Marks told the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and Propel Bar and Nightclub Conference. Marks said Deltic, which bought the former Luminar bar and nightclub estate out of administration, has undertaken all refurbishments out of cashflow, bought ten new sites and managed to pass money back to shareholders since the company was founded. The company has increased its spend-per-head from £12.40 to £14.62 and improved its drink gross profit from 69.7% to 75.2%. Ebitda post central costs is forecast to increase to more that £12m next year, compared to just over £6m when it was founded in December 2011. The company is focused on a five-year refurbishment cycle – the company inherited an estate whose sites had an average of seven years since refurbishment and one site had gone 14 years since investment. Marks said: “We’re seeing payback on invested sites in two years – and profits in year three, four and five. The investment plan is really working.” Marks said Deltic is “pushing the boundaries” with investment in high quality entertainment, with well-known DJs making the company’s brands a “lot more credible” matched by improved service levels, premium offers and a powerful e-marketing strategy. Marks said the company had noted a polarisation in the fortunes of regional towns, with some becoming “mini-Detroits”. Mentioning Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, in particular, he said: “I can’t see some towns getting back to where they were.” Marks told the conference he had huge sympathy for Luminar founder Stephen Thomas who had faced a very difficult final few years leading the company. “I wouldn’t have wanted to be in Steve’s shoes in the last year or two – it was a perfect storm,” he said. Deltic has completed 28 major investments – and has 30 more to do. Advanced sales at the company hit £600,000 in September, which compares to £140,000 in September 2014. The company saw total sales decline by circa £10m on an annualised basis in the first seven or eight months of ownership as it waited on lease assignments and investment approvals. Sales flat-lined at circa £75m for 30 months as sales gains at invested sites were neutralised by sales losses at uninvested sites. But total sales have now risen for almost a full year and stand at circa £86m, virtually back in line with the company’s original top-line when it acquired the estate.

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A chance to pour life back into the Great British cuppa F

Getting back to serving quality tea is an attractive business opportunity but how is that best exploited? Clare Fuller from Rosy Lee Tea (London), who wants to start the ‘Great Tea Revolution’, sets out her ‘tea manifesto’

oodservice industry figures from global information provider NPD Group show that for the year ending June 2015, 887 million cups of tea were consumed in Britain’s foodservice market. This compares to 2.047 billion cups of coffee. That’s over two cups of coffee for every cup of tea. Tea is included in only 8% of all visits in Britain’s foodservice market (all dayparts and channels included), compared to 17.6% for coffee. Once again, it’s more than two-to-one in favour of coffee. So if tea is the traditional beverage in this country, is the game up for tea? Not a bit of it. My feeling is that we’ve forgotten our tea-making skills. The average cuppa served in Britain’s foodservice market is so poor that there’s a huge business opportunity to pour some life back into our great British beverage. We need to work together to start the “Great Tea Revolution”, just like we have seen the “coffee revolution”. It’s time for tea to catch up. How do we do that? First, we need to root out terrible tea from the foodservice industry and use top quality ingredients. Then we need to make tea properly. We also have to educate peoples’ tea palettes and give them choices. Above all, we must inject a bit of drama and excitement into the tea-drinking experience. Coffee has somehow sidelined tea in the image battle. The way things are, tea just can’t compete. The foodservice industry offers an experience. So would you rather pay extra for the “coffee experience” – a smart paper cup, froth, a fancy lid and sleek logo showing the world how chic and discerning you are? Or would you dole out the dosh for a dodgy cuppa that offers you the joy of swishing a part-submerged teabag around your cup and then fishing it out of the cup before trying to find somewhere to plonk it without staining your shirt? The way things stand now you’d probably choose a coffee. Does this mean it is all over for tea? No.

specialty hot drinks explain the two-to-one coffee-to-tea discrepancy in demand in the foodservice industry. Coffee is more likely to offer “specialty” variations, while tea is less likely to do so. The NPD Group provides clear evidence for this by pointing out that specialty coffee now represents 75.4% of all coffee servings in Britain, while specialty tea only represents 10% of all tea servings. Surely there’s a gap to fill there?

Our 2015 London Tea Audit So specialty teas can refresh the humble cuppa. But what else should be done? Those are the questions our Tea Revolutionaries asked in June in our London Tea Audit where in one week we visited venues serving tea – from posh hotels to modest transport cafes. Our mission? To find out what’s happening with the London cuppa, and to think about how we can improve it.

What did we find? The overall tea experience in the capital is really disappointing! Drinking a cuppa in your average shop, cafe, restaurant or hotel is akin to watching your favourite football team playing its last match of the season, quickly conceding three disastrous goals and heading for inevitable relegation. Our Tea Revolutionaries scored most outlets as 6/10 or less.

What was lacking? The big problem? Plain old tastelessness. Whether served loose or in a teabag, too many cups of tea were weak and bland. Next up? The lack of love with which the tea was made. Foodservice providers appear not to have mastered the art of brewing tea properly. They serve watery beverages that look unappealing, are too hot or too cold, and often have the milk thrown in before a teabag.

Tea can be exciting Dig under the surface, especially in the retail sector, and there’s a lot going on. And the foodservice industry should take note. Artisan tea brands are focusing on single-estate, whole-leaf teas and marketing unusual and rare teas – many with an ethical stance thrown in. These include the Rare Tea Company, Imperial Teas, The Tea Makers, We Are Tea and Tregothnan (grown in the UK). New brands are springing up, offering excitement, education and advice. Look at Teapigs, the Brew Tea Company, Rosy Lee Tea (London) and Joe’s Tea. They couple a strong premium focus with a fresher more modern persona. And there are new specialty products that make tea a more varied and exciting experience, including Matcha, green tea, and new herbal flavours from specialists such as Pukka – which describes itself as a “pure herbal tea adventure”. These variations point the way to how we can change the imbalance between coffee and tea. The NPD Group says


And third, virtually no product knowledge. Hardly any of the outlets we tried were able to explain anything about their tea – such as where it came from, what it tastes like or what’s great about it. A barista is trained to understand and explain coffee. The tea fraternity hasn’t even developed a script.

Some tea successes


Our best score? We gave (8/10) to the Ritz for its hot, fresh tasting and refreshing brew, with loose tea served in a silver teapot plus strainer, and tasty shortbread fingers on the side. Compared to many other offerings it felt like good value at £7 although our waitress poured it before it was properly brewed, and was unable to tell us anything about the tea except that it was “our own blend” and “natural”. ▲

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Insight For the price-pressed? We had a functional but more than satisfactory experience at the Beckenham Beacon Outpatients Hospital – £1.10 for a small cup or £1.30 for a large one. Also worth trying? Check out the modern “foodie” venues. Try the Albion Cafe in Shoreditch if you want to sit and linger: £2.95, or visit the Sourced Cafe at St Pancras if you are on the move: just £1.40.

Some tea failures We’d put the chains at the other end of the scale. There’s nothing particularly offensive about their offering – but there is nothing to write home about either. A typical example is Caffe Nero, which scored a mere three for its takeaway offering in a cardboard cup which lacked taste and was so hot that we had trouble carrying it, and couldn’t stay long enough to drink it. Other disappointing experiences include M&S Cafes at £1.80 (with a pot) and the Barbican Centre at £1.30 (in a cup). The fact that the vast majority of places we tried were bang in the middle – completely commoditised, totally unmemorable and lacking any distinction – means there’s a real opportunity for enterprising foodservice outlets to do something different and raise the status of the humble cuppa.

Good tea is good foodservice business Here’s the business opportunity for foodservice operators. You can mark-up a great tea. The British market has long experience of tea but the standard product offering today is disappointing. People have not gone off tea; they have gone off the way the foodservice industry often serves it. In any other business, that would be called a “market opportunity”. A large minty mocha might cost as much as £2.95 on the British high street. So why not make a point of serving a thirst-quenching pot of quality tea, properly made and backed up with some proven and visible provenance, and all served by keen staff that knows the script? Charge the same amount: £2.95. Charge a tad more even. People will pay for quality and they’ll come back for more.

Here are some of the brews you might be offered…some good and some bad. Scorchio: the tea that’s made with water from a coffee machine – so hot that the flavour seems to get “nuked” and it never cools to the right temperature. Avoid unless you want to sit in a cafe all day playing on your mobile phone. Builders’ delight: strong, refreshing with a little milk and two sugars. Builders are especially scathing about bought tea, awarding an average score of just 4/10. To be absolutely perfect, it has to be made on site or by ’er indoors.

Fighting back – our ‘tea manifesto’ I want to start the “Great Tea Revolution”, just like we have seen the “coffee revolution”. I told you about our Tea Revolutionaries doing the London Tea Audit this summer. And all good revolutionaries have their manifesto. So here’s our “tea manifesto” – some important steps we all need to take to revive tea and make sure it enjoys its true potential. At Rosy Lee Tea (London) – the company I am helping to build – our mission is to transform the tea category within the foodservice industry and at home.

1. Sort the basics • Serve a brilliant brew • Prepare it properly • Build your people into powerful ambassadors

What makes a champion cuppa? • • • • • • • • • •

Source a decent quality tea blend – teabag or loose Offer a choice of popular brews Provide a china mug or cup Serve in (or from) a warmed pot Train staff to understand your product Tailor the brew to the customer Allow the proper brew time – cater to variations in taste Use fresh full-fat or semi-skinned milk Invite customers to add their milk themselves Avoid those tiny thimble-sized cartons of milk and forget wooden stirrers!

2. Do smart and impactful marketing • Enhance the tea experience with brand and communications tools • Borrow coffee strategies, but reinterpret them for tea • Revive tea associations, in a modern way • Connect with others who want the same benefits

How do I develop smart marketing?

Cardboard cuppa: this version is usually huge, tastes of cardboard or plastic and is seldom dark and strong because the milk is added alongside the teabag. It’ll do if you are really thirsty, but is better described as a pale brown beverage than tea. Greasy spoon: for this, you need to start by thinking fish and chips or full English breakfast. Your accompanying cuppa must come from a communal pot and be strong, dark and delicious. We’re sorry to say that it’s hard to find in London but if you’re desperate, grab the car keys and make for Daisy’s Cafe in Ambleside in the Lake District. Business brew: most people drink tea in the office and, for those that can make it themselves rather than rely on a machine, the standard is reasonable. You can be sure of a brilliant brew at the Albion ad agency in Shoreditch – not just because it is located in an old tea factory but because it serves the celebrated Rosy Lee Tea in cute teacups like your gran might have used.

• • • • • • • •

Find a brand that has real standout and a crisp message Make sure that brand looks forward not backwards Ensure the brand has an active social media presence Search for personality – a brand that speaks an entertaining language Build on the idea that tea has long been associated with food Create meal deals Develop tea occasions Link tea to other products to differentiate your offer (tea and biscuits/tea and sandwiches/tea and cake/tea and scones)

The foodservice industry challenge Finally, the tea challenge is bigger than one teashop or even one chain. To be successful the foodservice sector needs to pull together. As a category it will generate more opportunities if all involved work on all of these “tea manifesto” initiatives all at the same time. After all, they say the best place to put a coffee shop is next to a coffee shop. If fizzy drink manufacturers can do it with an industrial process, coloured water, sugar and carbon, think what we can do with the people, magic, mystery, smells and sounds of the tea world. I firmly believe that’s the challenge facing foodservice tea. ¡ WINTER 2015 ¡ PROPEL QUARTERLY



Lunch times are a-changin’ Eating out at lunchtime is starting to make a comeback but not necessarily in the way that we know it as NPD Group foodservice account manager Muriel Illig explains


PD Crest data shows that lunch accounted for one third of all traffic for out-of-home (OOH) eating during the year ending June 2015, making it the biggest occasion in the industry in traffic terms. It is an essential occasion for foodservice operators and one that has become more competitive with new players entering the market. Existing foodservice operators such as coffee shops are trying to extend their territory into this meal occasion.

Hit hard by recession, lunch is on the rise again Following the 2008-2009 UK recession, British consumers cut down on some of their OOH occasions. Lunch took a large hit during the financial crisis, in stark contrast to dinner. The lunch meal occasion has not yet fully recovered and is still down by 3.8% in overall traffic terms as of year ending June 2015 compared to five years ago. Following the recession, consumers have chosen to cut their spending where they felt that little value was added. They have also chosen to prioritise “social moments” over “functional” needs. Many consumers have brought lunch to

work, reducing their spending away from more expensive lunch options on the high street and redirecting some of it to OOH dinner occasions with family and friends. Consumers are now feeling more confident about the future. UK consumer confidence levels are once again positive and arguably much brighter than Germany, France, Italy or Spain. Things are looking just as bright for the foodservice market – including the lunch occasion – that is now showing signs of recovery with a 1.3% growth in traffic to year-end June 2015.

“Things are back in motion but the motion is not circular. Lunch traffic is returning but some of the characteristics are different” Recent NPD data also shows that this growth comes largely from weekday lunches with an uplift of 1.5% compared to the previous year. There has also been

Chart 1: Total out of home lunch traffic

4.0bn 3.5bn 3.0bn 2.5bn YE Jun 11 YE Jun 12 YE Jun 13 YE Jun 14 YE Jun 15



a positive – although smaller – growth in weekend lunches of 0.8%. Traffic from adults aged between 25 and 49 has also been driving the trend with a growth of 2.8%. However, it was the weekday lunch occasion and the 25-to-49-yearold demographic that were hit the most during the UK recession and they still have some more catching up to do. Indeed, weekday lunch traffic is still down by 6.3% compared to five years ago and the 25-to-49-year-old demographic is still 7.5% behind over the same period. But does this mean that things are returning to the way they were before?

The lunch landscape is evolving Things are back in motion but the motion is not circular. Lunch traffic is returning but some of the characteristics are different. Yes the classics are the same: sandwiches still dominate at lunchtime and are included in 33.0% of all eat-out lunches. Retailers remain the biggest drivers of footfall in commercial channels accounting for 14.8% of all lunch traffic. However, the importance of sandwiches has slightly reduced over time; five years ago they were included in 33.9% of all visits, so this is down 0.9 of a percentage point, representing a drop of 68 million servings. More recently, burgers have outpaced sandwiches and are included in 16.4% of all lunch occasions at year-end June 2015, up from 11% of lunch visits at year-end June 2010. For the year ending June 2015, retailers lost 0.9% of lunch traffic compared to the previous year with traffic moving to more appealing channels such as quick service burger outlets (+2.6%), quick-service chicken outlets (+2.5%) as well as coffee shops (+11.6%). This shows that habits are changing and OOH lunch is less about satisfying a functional need and more of a “treat”. NPD data for the year ending June 2015 shows that functional motivations (for example, wanting to satisfy hunger or quench thirst, wanting something light or balanced, ▲

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Insight or simply not wanting to cook) are stable, rising only 0.2% in visit terms compared to the previous year. In comparison, social motivations (for example, socialising with friends, spending time with family, or celebrating a special event) accounted for 2.5% more lunch visits than it did in the previous year.

Chart 2: Total out of home lunch traffic on vs off premise

“Many Londoners have witnessed the ability of the vibrant London foodservice market to bring out new concepts” There has also been a shift in the way that lunch is consumed. Traffic growth at lunchtime has recently been driven by consumers eating on the premises with traffic up 5.4% in the last year alone. Meanwhile, on-the-go consumption has dropped dramatically (7.4% versus yearend June 2010) and is continuing with a persistent 2.8% decline year-on-year.

A ‘convenient location’ is no longer enough Food operators should note that when consumers were asked why they chose an outlet for lunch, the factor of “a convenient location” drove 0.7% less traffic compared to the previous year. On the other hand, there is a 4.5% rise in the “quality of food” being cited as a reason to choose an outlet. The factor of “good price” is also increasingly declared as a reason to choose an outlet, with a 1.6% rise in traffic driven by this motivation for the year ending

June 2015. Although lunch consumers have become more demanding, they are also expressing more satisfaction about their experience. Indeed, NPD Group satisfaction data shows overall satisfaction at lunch in the whole of the OOH market has grown significantly with 68% expressing “strong” overall satisfaction compared to only 55% five years ago. This means that they rated their lunch experience as either “very good” or “excellent”.

Lunch is heating up in London London is the driving force of the rebirth of the lunch occasion in Britain. Indeed, as NPD Crest data for the year ending June 2015 demonstrates, lunch traffic in London rose by 4.3% compared to last year while lunch traffic in the rest of Britain was essentially stable, growing by just 0.7%. This aligns with the overall OOH trend, which shows that London is driving the national foodservice market. Indeed, without the 6.3% overall traffic growth in London growth across all day parts, overall

Is London’s ‘foodie’ culture a crystal ball for the foodservice industry? In London, innovative concepts are popping up at an increasing rate and appealing to more adventurous consumers seeking to inject more excitement into their lunchtime experience. Food market operators have become a landmark in east London and north London. Many have created new collectives such as Kerb – a membership organisation for London’s street cooks. As they have expanded into new territories, they are injecting new energy into lunchtime in places such as the City and Canary Wharf. As a result, “foodie” culture is not limited to a few east London “hipsters” but can be enjoyed by any working person looking for an affordable, tasty and alternative lunch to grab-and-go. To manage its rebirth, street food has had to redefine itself and be more daring than conventional foodservice operators. The days when food trucks only sold hot dogs and a simple low quality burger in a bun are gone. Classics are still served – but perhaps with a twist – and food from around the world is on offer from vegetarian Indian street food dishes to Korean barbecue meat baps. Burgers are still king but they now offer special and appetising ingredients. The latest trend is to mix influences, like the duck confit burger from the “Frenchie” stand, which puts traditional French meat and cheese into a brioche burger bun or like the Indian poppadom nachos at the “Baba G” stand. The interesting point for the foodservice industry is that these innovations often reach the mainstream channels. So watch this space carefully. Today’s high street innovations could have a big impact on what we all choose to eat for lunch tomorrow.

traffic in Great Britain as a whole would not be growing this year. In London, the data over five years show lunch is growing rapidly in traffic terms. At year-end June 2015, it was 10.7% higher than at yearend June 2010. Over the same five-year period, Britain’s lunch traffic as a whole registered a decline of 6.3%. Contrary to the overall picture, on-thego consumption at lunchtime is no longer declining this year in London but remaining flat. However, as the London food-on-thego scene is booming during other meal occasions (with dinner and snacking in particular growing traffic respectively by 19.5% and 9.5% compared to last year), it should only be a matter of time before the lunch occasion also shows positive growth in the capital. What will prompt this positive growth? Many Londoners have witnessed the ability of the vibrant London foodservice market to bring out new concepts. A good example is the rise of new outlets offering food by weight or volume, allowing consumers more flexibility to pick and mix within a fixed personal budget. If this kind of novel approach spreads, it will help to address the reluctance to buy lunch out due to financial constraints. That in turn could become one factor that helps lunch to bounce back at a national level.

Street food in pubs Could street food be a new way for independent pubs to attract more lunch traffic? Collaborations between street food operators and independent pubs are certainly flourishing. Suddenly, a pub that did not ordinarily offer food now has the opportunity to do so. It is a win-win situation for both the street food operator and the pub owner: the first benefits from the pub customer base and the second satisfies the increasing need for food and excitement among its clientele. This is more than just a London trend; it has become an opportunity in other major British cities such as Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.

Muriel Illig is the foodservice account manager for NPD Group ¡ WINTER 2015 ¡ PROPEL QUARTERLY


News Digest

News Digest PizzaExpress working with former Waitrose innovation chef to launch chicken concept: PizzaExpress is working with the former Waitrose innovation chef Neil Nugent to launch its rotisserie chicken concept, Reys, in Cambridge, occupying the site of the former Cow pub previously operated as a Pizza Bar and Kitchen by Orchid Group. Nugent oversaw the launch of the Heston Blumental range of meals at Waitrose during his three years with the company as executive chef of innovation. The chef, who also co-owned iconic York bistro J. Baker’s for a period, also launched the Gary Rhodes meal range when he worked at Asda as executive innovation chef. His most recent position has been executive chef of product development at Morrison’s. He started his own consultancy, BullDogFish in September 2014. Earlier in his career he worked at Bibendum and Boulestin in London. MOD Pizza founder tells Propel there’s a market opportunity in the UK for hundreds of stores: MOD Pizza founder Scott Svenson has claimed there is a market opportunity for hundreds of MOD Pizza stores in the UK. Svenson and his wife Ally, who grew Seattle Coffee Company from three UK sites to 68 in just 22 months when they lived here during the 1990s, told Propel the company would look at sites within the M25 for the UK launch. The company is entering the UK in a joint venture with Sir Charles Dunstone, who also operates Five Guys in the UK. Svenson told Propel: “Our most loyal following is in suburban sites where units are a community gathering place. We will be very involved in the UK operation – I expect to come over to the UK four or five times next year. We chose to become involved in a joint venture with Sir Charles Dunstone because the ‘purpose’ behind MOD Pizza is incredibly important – we call it purpose beyond pizza. We’re huge admirers of Sir Charles and it’s an opportunity


Propel Morning Briefing, our sister daily news bulletin, has broken all manner of exclusives in the past few months. Here is a selection of the many stories brought to you first

to partner him in a special opportunity.” Svenson said that, in line with the size of the PizzaExpress and Nando’s estates in the UK, the potential of MOD Pizza is “massive – hundreds of stores”. MOD Pizza offers artisan style pizza cooked in three or four minutes with limitless customisation opportunities for a set price of $7.47 for all pizzas regardless of topping choices – about half the price charged by competitors. New Moon Pub Company to launch New York-influenced bar and pizzetteria concept in first venture with Star Pubs & Bars: New Moon Pub Company is to launch a New York-influenced bar and pizzetteria concept in its first venture with Star Pubs & Bars. The company, led by David Mooney and Paul Newman, will launch The Bronx on the site of the former Bar 21 pub in Knutsford, Cheshire – just 100 metres from its Old Sessions House venue. The Bronx will have a menu of 12 pizzas – priced at £5 for one, £9 for two and £12 for three – and will serve cocktails, craft ales and a selection of wines. Mooney told Propel he was “extremely excited” about the new concept, which is the company’s eighth site. He said: “We’ve been working on it for two months and it’s got huge potential and can be rolled out. It won’t be a restaurant. People will eat at the bar and tables. It will have high and low furniture. It will have a DJ and be open to 3am. There will also be an area upstairs when people can go for a bit of privacy away from the DJ.” Mooney also said the company’s new pizza concept Cassa Matta, which it launched on the site of the Hanging Gate pub in Weaverham, Cheshire, in September was ready to be rolled out. Steve Richards – Bella Italia, Las Iguanas and Café Rouge can grow to 600 sites: Steve Richards has set out ambitious growth plans for Casual Dining Group which he believes can expand its

Bella Italia, Las Iguanas and Café Rouge concepts to 600 sites. Speaking at the Fourth annual conference in London, the company’s chief executive believes there is scope for 150 Café Rouge and Las Iguanas sites and 300 locations for Bella Italia. Casual Dining Group, which also operates La Tasca, has 27 new sites lined up to open by May 2016 and plans are in place for another 23 in the following 12 months. The majority of them will be on leisure parks. Richards was delighted with the company’s performance over the past two years but said there was still a lot of work to do. He added: “What we want is great brands, great properties with it all underpinned by great people.”

Welcome Break – branded food and coffee have transformed our performance, now it’s time for a full-service branded restaurant: Welcome Break chief executive Rod McKie has hailed the transformational effect of branded food and coffee offers at his company. The company has 12 major brands trading at multiple sites within its 32 locations – it has 26 Subway sites, for example. The introduction of Starbucks had produced a 35% growth in coffee sales overnight, McKie reported. The company also now has nine drive-thru Starbucks, which had proven to be “a phenomenal success”. “The growth rate of coffee is staggering,” McKie told the ▲

Luke Johnson – I want to turn Eclectic into one of the leading players in the late-night market: Sector investor Luke Johnson has set out his ambitions for Eclectic Bar Group, the operator of 19 premium bars that he now chairs after a £1.5m investment during the summer. The company will add late-night sites on an opportunistic basis but also seek to balance the business by making acquisitions with higher food content. He said: “I want Eclectic to become one of the leading players in the late-night market, significantly bigger than we are. We will look to diversify from latenight wet-led into food-led concepts. We will focus our acquisitions on bars in the latenight industry that we think


can deliver a higher profit than they do now – like Coalition in Brighton. We will continue to focus on opportunities within the late-night bar industry and I believe acquisitions will become available, on a one or two-site basis, from time-totime.” The company will also look to make acquisitions of businesses with more food content to create a “better balance for the business”, he said. Asked why he had invested in Eclectic, he said: “I’m an opportunist. One of the shareholders approached me. I thought it represented fair value and was a bit of a challenge – and I can never resist one of those.”

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News Digest Chris Muller and Propel Multisite Management Masterclass. “Coffee is one of the key reasons why people stop at our service stations. Choosing Starbucks (as our branded offer) proved to be the right choice. We sell 17 million cups of coffee a year and it’s growing at a phenomenal rate.” The average customer length of stay at a service station is 21 minutes, with a toilet break the reason why 92% of customers stop. But, McKie said, there is an increase in customers having longer stops for reasons such as business meetings and the company is close to signing an agreement with a well-known licensed restaurant brand offering full-service. City Pub Company names key towns and cities it plans to target: The City Pub Company has named key towns and cities it will look to target as part of plans to build a 30-strong portfolio by the end of 2017. The company, which was formed in 2012, told Propel it has identified Canterbury, Cheltenham, Exeter, Southampton and St Albans while Birmingham, which would be its most northerly point to date, is also being considered. It also wants a second site in Bristol. It currently has 21 sites across its two companies – City Pub Company (East) and City Pub Company (West) –

having now secured a second outlet in Winchester, due to open next year, as well as a third pub in Cambridge, also due to start trading in 2016. Rupert Clark and Alex Derrick, chief executives of City Pub Company (East) and City Pub Company (West) respectively, said exciting times lay ahead. The company, which has already raised nearly £28m in EIS funding, is now looking to raise another £15m in order to finance its 30 site target, which it remains “on course” to reach. The latest fund-raise is through a convertible preference share scheme that was launched earlier this year and has raised more than £4m to date. Derrick added: “We want to create a fantastic portfolio of places with fantastic people running them. It’s been a great story so far but we are just getting started.” Benugo opens first department store site: Benugo has opened its first site within a department store, opening Benugo Cafe at John Lewis. It is located on the second floor of the Oxford Street store. A spokeswoman said: “Benugo Cafe at John Lewis will be a mix between our high street offering and what we offer at the V&A. The selfservice cafe will serve a range of daily specials full of fresh and colourful ingredients, from salads and oven-baked dishes to our signature sandwiches. Cakes, scones and a selection

Harrison added the brand has strengthened its position in the market and continues to win consumers’ hearts. According to the latest YouGov poll, 38% of people said Costa would be their first choice ahead of Starbucks on 17% and Caffe Nero on 12%. In 2008, 22% said Costa was their favourite, putting it behind Starbucks on 31% while Caffe Nero was 11%. Harrison said Costa had not raised its prices since VAT went up to 20% in 2011. He added: “We are continuing to pull away from the competition and Whitbread chief executive that’s because we are delivering Andy Harrison has said Costa is a great customer experience continuing to pull away from the and value for money. But we competition because it offers are not complacent here. We great customer experience and must continue improving our value for money. Costa’s price customer experience and value for a 16oz cappuccino or latte for money. We shall continue to has remained at £2.45 since put the customer at the heart 2011 while rivals Starbucks of everything we do.” Harrison and Caffe Nero had both also said Costa is aiming to raised its prices from £2.50 to have a 2,500-strong estate in £2.60 and £2.75 respectively. the UK by 2020. Andy Harrison – Costa pulling away from the competition because of its customer experience and value for money:


Charles Wells to grow managed estate to 25 sites in next five years: Bedford-based brewer and retailer Charles Wells has told Propel it plans to grow its managed estate to 25 sites in the next five years. The company, which only began operating a managed division in 2014 after an eight-year absence, is now looking to expand its two formats. Having opened its first river-side site at Cox’s Yard in Stratford-uponAvon, Warwickshire, under its Apostrophe Pubs vehicle last month, Craig Mayes, director of Charles Wells’ managed pub division, said it had now agreed heads of terms to acquire a site in Bedford that is due to open in the company's next financial year, which of speciality teas will also be available. Our trained baristas will be serving our renowned Benugo blend coffee and all of our cakes are delivered daily from our London bakery. There will also be an afternoon tea offering where you can enjoy a pot of our loose leaf tea, a selection of our signature sandwiches with our favourite cakes and treats. The interior is also going to be a bit more refined with blue and brass finishings. This is our first opening in a department store so we are very excited about the opportunity. John Lewis is a fantastic British brand that we thinks is a very good fit for Benugo and we look forward to our long-term relationship.” Benugo is part of WSH, a holding company made up of six trading brands in the food and hospitality sector.

Punch Taverns boss – some of our formats could be national brands: Punch Taverns chief executive Duncan Garrood has vowed to keep its pubs “at the heart of the community” – but believes


starts in September 2016. Two more Apostrophe sites are also set to follow – one that is expected to be trading in early 2016 and another in March. He added: “Cox’s Yard is a different entity for us – with its 1,000 square metres of total trading area, it is a game changer for us.” Mayes also said the company plans to start expanding its Pizza, Pints and Pots concept that launched in Cambridge, with one site under negotiation and another due to open next April. Despite expanding its managed division, Mayes said there would still be plenty of opportunities for its tenants and lessees. some of its concepts have the potential to become national brands. Garrood, who joined the company in June after serving as president of the food division of MH Alshaya, a franchise operator of 55 brands headquartered in Kuwait, stressed the importance of continuing to invest in both Punch’s employees and its licensees and make sure its 3,400-strong estate “offered great hospitality”. And he said he sees “great potential” in both its Champs sports bars format and its Brewed and Baked coffee-led concept, with the potential of growing them into national brands. Garrood also said he also had a team “working behind the scenes on other possible concepts”, although there was “nothing imminent at the moment”. Speaking at a Punch roadshow event held in Romford, Garrood told Propel: “The heartland of Punch will always be the local community pub. There are opportunities to grow some of our other formats but we are not going to go away from what is the heart of our business.”

ANALYTICS = SMART BUSINESS Transform big data into actionable insights through Fishbowl’s full suite of analytics solutions, and drive incremental sales and proÀts to your restaurant. Who are my guests? How do they interact with us? What do they like? How can I get them to spend more?

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For more information: contact Jo Fontaine, Managing Director, Fishbowl UK TEL: 0808.89-1495 -189-1495x197 x197EMAIL EMAIL : jfontaine@À : jfontaine@Àshbowl.comWEB WEB : À : À