Whitbread appoints non-executive directors
The parent company of Beefeater, Brewers Fayre and Premier Inn has hired two new non-executive directors, Fumbi Chima and Kal Atwal.
Chima will become a member of Whitbread’s audit committee, while Atwal will join the remuneration committee.
Currently executive vice-president and chief information officer at BECU, Chima has previously served as CIO at Adidas, Fox Network Group, Burberry, Walmart Asia’s business operations and American Express global corporate technologies.
Atwal has 13 years’ executive committee experience at BGL Group, where she played a central role in strategic growth and scaling of the Group’s brands. She is also chair of SimplyCook Ltd and serves as a non-executive director of Royal London Group and WH Smith.
“I am delighted to announce the appointments of Fumbi and Kal as non-executive directors,” Whitbread chairman Adam Crozier said. “They bring an invaluable mix of skills to the board, including in the technology sector, in digital transformation, in marketing and general management, gained from a range of businesses.
“As Whitbread faces into the next phase of its growth, they will add huge value to the Board”.
Sandford Orchards invests £1.2m in cider business
Devon-based cidermaker Sandford Orchards has invested £1.2m into expanding its bottling and canning capabilities and developing and implementing a new branding strategy.
The new developments have tripled Sandford Orchards’ bottling rate to 6,000 bottles per hour, and increased automation in its kegging line.
“Whilst other businesses have retrenched during the last twelve months we have taken the opportunity to press forward with our expansion plans buoyed by an ever-growing number of consumers who are looking for an antidote to the standard commercial cider brands,” chief cidermaker Barny Butterfield said.
“At the beginning of the first lockdown our usual canning business became too busy to provide us with the capacity that we needed,” he continued. “We knew canned cider offered us a huge potential market, as it is not well served by quality craft ciders, so we took the plunge and invested in our own in-house canning line which delivers 3,500 cans of cider per hour.
“In the same period we also purchased brand new state of the art bottling machinery to allow us to meet the growing demand for our products and match our ambitious projections.”
What’s more, Butterfield added that the enhanced bottling capacity could see it increase its packaged distribution within the on-trade – where it already serves more than 2,000 pubs and bars through listings with the likes of Mitchells & Butlers.
“Traditionally our supply into the on-trade has been draft cider but our recent investment makes us well placed to grow our packaged cider presence in this sector,” he said.
“Many operators are missing a big opportunity to premiumise and diversify their cider offer, something that our market research revealed consumers crave.
“Our new packaging and brand message increases our appeal and stand out in the fridge and with a bottling capacity of 6000 bottles an hour we plan to rapidly expand distribution of our packaged ciders nationally, with a particular focus on partnering with quality led, multiple operators.”
Brighton Pier Group receives £1.4 insurance pay-outs
The Brighton Pier Group has received £1.4m in business interruption pay-outs from insurers, according to reports by The Morning Advertiser’s (MA) sister title MCA Insight.
The operator of Brighton Palace Pier, 12 bars and eight mini-golf sites, said that while the sum did not satisfy its claims in full, it has bolstered overall liquidity, which it says remains strong.
A High Court Judgement on 15 September 2020 found that the operator’s ‘Marsh Resilience’ policies were capable of responding to Covid business interruption claims, irrespective of the subsequent Supreme Court ruling on 15 January.
“While business interruption insurance is welcome, and the rollout of the vaccination programme provides a route back to normality, we are keen for the Government to announce a recovery roadmap for the tourism and hospitality sectors,” CEO Anne Ackford said of the pay outs.
“If businesses in the night-time economy continue to be subject to restrictions after the end of lockdown, the Government needs to recognise that further ongoing financial support will be required.”
In November last year, the Luke Johnson-chaired group announced it had written off £8.1m due to the pandemic.
The group reported full year revenues were down 41% to 22.6m, Group EBITDA down by 48% to £2.5m and a loss swing from £2.7m profit in 2019 to a £10.2m loss in 2020.
The Inn Collection Group appoints new property director
The Inn Collection Group has hired Louise Stewart as its new property director in a bid to further its expansions plans across the north of England.
Stewart joins the award-winning operator from her role as a director of Silverstone Building Consultancy and having spent more than 20 years in the commercial property industry, as well as being a chartered building surveyor with a master’s degree in construction project management.
“We are delighted to welcome Louise to the team,” Sean Donkin, the Inn Collection Group’s managing director said. “As we continue to grow, it is vital we strengthen our team with highly skilled professionals such as Louise, and we are excited for what she will bring to the group. We would like to wish her a long and prosperous association with The Inn Collection Group.”
At the time of Stewart’s appointment, the Inn Collection Group boasts a portfolio of 19 pubs with several refurbishments in the pipeline for 2021 and the Alchemy backed group aiming to open site number 22 by 31 March.
“It is exciting to join a company with such ambitious growth plans and I can’t wait to get started,” Stewart said. “Their current offering is something that customers love, and I can’t wait to help continue growing this across all their sites.”
Business investment in the hospitality sector rebounded 45% in Q3
Business investment in the hospitality industry recovered by 45.3% in the third quarter of 2020 having jumped £308m on the previous quarter, analysis of latest official data by tax relief specialist Catax has revealed.
Total business investment in hotels and restaurants was 7.5% down year-on-year to £988m between July and September 2020 amid the ongoing effects of the pandemic, latest ONS figures released on 12 February found.
This was, however, significantly better than the performance of UK industry as a whole, with total UK business investment across all sectors falling by almost a fifth (19.2%) in Q3 2020.
Quarterly UK GDP grew by 15.5% in Q3, however this pace of growth did slow later in the year, with only a 1% rise recorded for Q4. The result was that over 2020 as a whole, UK GDP shrank by 9.9% — the worst performance since modern records began.
“The hospitality sector starts from a lower base than most areas of the economy when it comes to business investment but it has still done well to bounce back from the lows seen in the second quarter of last year when the sector plumbed depths not seen since 2011, in the teeth of the financial crisis,” Catax CEO Mark Tighe said.
“This significant percentage jump in business investment in the third quarter represents a promising rebound for an industry that has been hit like a freight train by the pandemic and repeated lockdowns.
“It will continue to suffer so long as the leisure industry remains shut down, but the quick effects of the vaccine drive will hopefully allow the UK to throw off its Covid shackles soon and deliver a speedy return to normal levels of activity as we move through the year.”
HMRC clears Tipjar for tipping and tronc ‘revolution’
TipJar, the digital tipping platform founded by BrewDog retail director James Brown and Rosa’s Thai co-founder Alex Moore, has been cleared by HMRC in a move that could see operators move away from tronc systems.
The green light from HMRC means that as long as an operator hands over full control of tip management to staff via Tipjar, they cannot be held responsible for tax or national insurance contributions on tips collected and can move away from operating tronc systems.
Venues that operate via Tipjar – including Brewdog and Rose Pubs – typically distribute digital tips equally amongst all hourly paid stuff, including kitchen teams, and in line with the number of hours worked.
Commenting on the news, Brown, said: “We are delighted that HMRC agree with our view on how modern tipping can work better and work harder for both the employee and the business.
“We hope this clearance will encourage more companies, and their employees, to drop old fashioned tronc systems, which are a headache to organise, costly to run and lack transparency.”
Criticism of current tronc systems include the potential to leave staff waiting to claim tips, teams and customers lacking trust in the process and operators facing fines for errors in management.
Heineken tight-lipped on UK job cuts
Brewing giant Heineken has confirmed the loss of under 100 jobs at its UK operation.
As reported by The MA, it is cutting 8,000 jobs in total, with some from the head office in Amsterdam.
Staff in the UK were informed of a restructure in October 2020, after which a consultation occurred and has now completed.
The company was not keen to comment on what jobs were being cut in the UK or how its pub arm Star Pubs and Bars would be affected.
Job cuts would fall across the business, according to the BBC.
A spokesperson for Heineken UK added: “Throughout the pandemic, our focus has been on the safety and wellbeing of our colleagues who have shown great resilience in supporting our customers through the most challenging trading conditions we’ve seen in generations.”