City of London and Manchester show signs of Saturation

17th November 2017

City of London and Manchester show signs of saturation, says Imbiba partner: Imbiba investment fund partner Darrel Connell has told a Propel conference that both the City of London and Manchester are showing signs of saturation. Speaking at the Propel Multi Club Conference, he said: “We’re in tricky times from a cost perspective with a lot of inflation but excess supply is almost a bigger factor for us when we look at businesses to invest in. If there are two markets where you can really feel excess supply, one is the City in London. It’s astonishing how many operators have opened in the City since 2009. The Ned has just gone in, which is eight new bar restaurants, and Bloomberg has just opened with seven bar restaurants, it’s a huge influx. The second market is Manchester. I spent some time there a month ago with an operator who has 12 sites in total across various businesses and he reckons that in the last three years, £400m of extra F&B supply has gone into Manchester.” Connell outlined to delegates what companies needed to do to counter the problem. He said: “In a world of excess supply, it’s no longer good enough to serve the best burger or have the best site, you need to be able to drive demand to your venues. There are a number of ways this can be done, firstly with a genuine excellence in product quality. There are few places I would say are consistently excellent and as a result drive demand – one is Padella, a pasta place by London Bridge with queues round the block consistently. It’s seen as very good value. Secondly, there are very few businesses that have genuine brand power. The Ivy is one – the Ivy Brasserie sites that are opening all over the place, they’re generating £200,000-plus sales a week and that’s based on the brand. Soho House’s The Ned – the brand is 9.9 out of ten in my view.” Imbiba is looking to invest in early-stage multi-site companies through its new £50m Growth Fund, whose advisory board includes Karen Jones, Graham Turner and Karen Forrester. Connell said: “Imbiba looks very closely at a business’s strategy to drive demand. Sometimes we meet entrepreneurs who tell us that to drive demand they’re going to ‘hire someone who is 22 who is really good on social media’. That’s not really a strategy.”

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2017 – the year operators took the influencer seriously by Ann Elliott

27th October 2017

2017 – the year operators took the influencer seriously by Ann Elliott

As an operator, what’s your main aim? To increase footfall? Spend-per-head? All of the above and more? Welcome to the world of influencer marketing. This year, more than ever, I’ve heard various clients and colleagues talking about “influencers” and how to successfully work with them. Brands are fascinated by them, consumers are obsessed with them and, no matter what, you cannot escape how they are shaping the food and drink industry.

While consumers are becoming wiser about (and increasingly annoyed with) paid-for content, using an influencer is an effective way to reach demographics that have been traditionally difficult to engage with, such as millennials or Generation Z. What’s more, it’s working. According to research carried out by Zizzi, 18 to 35-year olds spend five days a year browsing food images on Instagram.

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Kitchen concept is a game Changer

13th October 2017

Kitchen concept is a game changer by Glynn Davis

Sitting in the reception of Deliveroo’s headquarters in the City of London recently, most people signing in seemed to be starting their first day at the food delivery company.

This is not particularly unusual for rapidly expanding businesses of this ilk, but what made it interesting was these new starters were all heading to work in Deliveroo’s new Editions division.

This is the delivery-only kitchen sector of the business, which used to be casually called “Roobox” until it was renamed something that sounds a little smarter following Deliveroo’s realisation the concept could be a game changer.

It seems the company’s investors also recognised the same potential in this fledgling part of the business, and it was noticeable in the statement accompanying its recent $385m fund-raise that Editions was top of the page and is clearly a big focus.

Personally, I’ve had a bit of a downer on home food delivery because I’ve heard far too many stories of how it can cause bottlenecks front-of-house in busy restaurants and clogs kitchens with orders that are often generating little margin even if genuinely good incremental business. Also, don’t forget every order heading out to someone’s home doesn’t have the valuable alcohol component that would be accrued from typical restaurant sales.

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Michelin reveals new stars for 2018 including new three-star Restaurant

2nd October 2017
Michelin reveals new stars for 2018 including new three-star restaurant: There was one new three Michelin-starred, one new two Michelin-starred and 16 new one Michelin-starred restaurants in the 2018 Michelin Guide. This year’s stars were revealed live at The Brewery, near the Barbican, in east London. The new three-star restaurant is The Araki in Mayfair. Chef and owner Mitsuhiro Araki opened the venue in New Burlington Street in 2014 having closed his restaurant in Tokyo. The Araki has just ten seats at a counter and runs one set menu. Michelin judges described the sushi restaurant as “sublime” and it is the first Japanese restaurant in the UK to be awarded three stars. Choking back tears, Araki said: “I’m so happy. I have a responsibility to my customers to do my best.” Meanwhile, Claude Bosi at Bibendum in Chelsea received two stars. Judges described the cooking as “sophisticated and bold”. Bosi said: “This is absolutely fantastic. My team is unbelievable.” There were six new one-star restaurants in London, including La Dame de Pic by Anne-Marie Pic and Nordic-inspired venue Aquavit. The other new entrants were A Wong in Victoria, Jamavar in Mayfair, Vineet Bhatia London in Chelsea and Elystan Street in Chelsea. Meanwhile, there were ten one-star restaurants outside the capital, which featured Michael Caines’ Lympstone Manor in Devon and the Wild Honey Inn in Lisdoonvarna, which was the first pub in Ireland to receive the accolade. The other new one-star venues were The Latymer in Bagshot, Surrey; Coworth Park, Ascot, Surrey; The Clock House, Ripley, Surrey; The Dining Room at Whatley Manor, Malmesbury, Wiltshire; Moor Hall, Aughton, Lancashire; The Coach, Marlow, Buckinghamshire; Paco Tapas, Bristol; and Loch Bay, Isle of Skye. Michael Ellis, international director of the Michelin Guides, said: “These stars are testament to the work of so many skilled chefs using superb ingredients, showing inspiration and motivating great teams. Michelin stars recognise culinary excellence around the globe and are a sign of the quality dishes that are being produced.”

 

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Tackling the food waste phenomenon by Glynn Davis

15th September 2017

Tackling the food waste phenomenon by Glynn Davis

Starbucks’ decision to sell leftover food at half-price in the final hour of trading at its UK stores sounds like a great idea to me. After initial trials at 16 outlets in Manchester, Starbucks is rolling the initiative out across its 350 company-owned stores and is looking to convince its franchise partners to follow suit.

 

All proceeds from the sale of these near-expiry-date items go to Action Against Hunger. Starbucks’ 11-week trial resulted in £1,500 being donated to the charity so the sums across the whole estate will be meaningful indeed. This is one of those rare occasions when it really is a “win-win situation” because as well as fighting hunger this initiative also helps to tackle the huge issue of food waste.

 

The reality is that as margins come under pressure from a raft of factors, including the continuing rise of the price of raw materials, being able to reduce waste becomes ever more important. Selling food that would otherwise be thrown away at a discounted rate surely makes sense to support your margins or, in the case of Starbucks, convert into a charitable contribution.

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10th Anniversary of Ban on Smoking – By Paul Chase

14th July 2017

We’ve just had the tenth anniversary of the ban on smoking in all enclosed public places, and much has been written about its effect on pubs. Also, in a couple of weeks’ time, the UK’s Supreme Court will consider the legality of the proposed introduction of minimum unit pricing (MUP) in Scotland. Here’s my take on both:

Firstly, as a lifelong non-smoker I personally much prefer smoke-free pubs. And if I were going to die in a ditch defending the right of individuals to make free choices, the right to set fire to a paper tube containing tobacco and inhale the smoke wouldn’t be my starting point. But it is nevertheless the case an awful lot of hypocrisy is attached to the reasons given for the smoking ban. This was never really about protecting people against second-hand smoke, and the statistical case for the ill-health effects of second-hand smoke was always pretty dubious in any event. This was about stopping people from smoking by criminalising their behaviour if they did so in certain circumstances. The alleged ill-health effects of second-hand smoke on the rest of us were never more than a fig leaf.

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