Industry news round-up: March 31, 2014

lowlanderOur weekly round-up of industry news, for March 24 to 31, 2014

New concepts for Eclectic as earnings rise
Eclectic Bar Group has reported a 13% increase in earnings (EBITDA before adjusting items) to £1.7million on the back of a 9.6% lift in sales to £11.4million for the half year to December 2013. It has also exchanged contracts to acquire Lowlander Grand Cafe bar and brasserie (pictured) in Covent Garden, London, which it plans to roll out nationally as a food-led brand. Last week, it unveiled bar and restaurant concept Dirty Blonde, hidden behind a pawnbrokers shop, in Brighton, which is also set for roll-out.
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Revolution operator reports ongoing growth
New Inventive Bar Company, which operates Revolution bars, has announced an upturn in sales and earnings as it undergoes a programme of investment and change. During the half year to the end of December 2013, sales were up 5% to £59million while earnings (EBITDA) increased by 41% to £6.7million. Catering sales grew strongly in the half year by 13%. The company added that performance in the first six months of its current financial year has continued into the second half.
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World Class to return to the skies
Diageo Reserve Brands is building on its partnership with British Airways by holding the UK final of its World Class Bartender of the Year competition on a flight to Hong Kong. Four finalists will compete mid-air in one of the airline’s new A380s in May. The partnership also sees last year’s UK winner Gareth Evans create a pre-flight aperitif (pictured) for BA First customers in the Concorde Room at London Heathrow’s Terminal 5.
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Funkin launches premium pickle juice
Cocktail specialist Funkin is expanding its portfolio with Funkin Pickle Juice – the first premium branded pickle juice designed for the on-trade. Funkin has developed the new product to give bars, pubs and restaurants a simple solution for the popular pickleback serve that is gaining momentum in the UK as well as an ingredient for adding a savoury flavour to cocktails.
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Report reveals on-trade soft drinks growth
Soft drinks sales in the UK’s on-trade continue to grow despite tough conditions, led by rises in cola, lemonade and mixers. According to the latest Britvic Soft Drinks Review, sales in the leisure channel, including pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants, increased by 2% while the total soft drinks market grew value to £10.3billion – topping the £10billion mark for the first time. Soft drinks generated value sales in the leisure channel of more than £2.8billion.
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Bar show extends to year-round seminars
Boutique Bar Show is expanding its offering beyond its three exhibitions to a series of seminars, tastings and experiences for the trade throughout the year. Involving a variety of drinks brands and bars, the events are aimed at providing a platform for people in the industry to exchange information and ideas.
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Ardbeg counts down to limited-edition whisky
Ardbeg is preparing to launch its latest limited-edition Auriverdes, which has been matured in American oak casks with specially toasted cask lids. The lids produce a mocha coffee flavour at one end, flowing into creamy vanilla at the other. The 2014 limited edition will be available from May 31 – Ardbeg Day when the distillery holds an annual celebration. It has been bottled at 49.9% ABV.
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Hotelympia announces innovation finalists
Ground-breaking new products in hospitality have been unveiled in the list of finalists in the Innovation Awards run as part of trade show Hotelympia. Products in the four categories of tabletop and design, catering equipment, food and drink, and technology will go head to head on day one of the show at London Excel on April 28.
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Club praised for female safety initiative
Liquid & Envy nightclub in Ipswich, operated by The Luminar Group, has been praised by police and a local MP for a new female safety campaign. Girls United is designed to give female customers the tools and information they need to stay safe on a night out. Initiatives have included installing free mobile phone charging points in permanently manned cloakrooms, and displaying approved taxi firm numbers at reception.
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Mauritian rum festival comes to UK
Rums from the island of Mauritius will be brought together at the first-ever UK outing for the Mauritius Rum Festival. The event, aimed at people in the bar trade and drinks industry, takes place at the Emirates Stadium in London from midday to 6pm on April 3 and 4.
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Cocktail bar planned by London restaurateur
Restaurateur James Robson is to open a bar in a cobbled side street in London’s Mayfair, with a cocktail list created by award-winning bartender Richard Woods. Cartizze will be an Italian-influenced cocktail and Bellini bar in the same building as his restaurant Mayfair Pizza Co in Lancashire Court. It is due to launch on April 8.
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Positive start to 2014 for Adnams
Adnams, the Suffolk brewer, distiller and retailer, has reported that 2014 started “reasonably well” despite a dip in profits. Operating profit was down 2% to £3.3million while sales increased by 6.3% to £60.5million in the 12 months to December 31, 2013. It also saw 1.2% growth in volumes of beer. It is celebrating after Adnams Triple Grain Whisky and Adnams Single Malt won medals at the World Spirits Awards in San Francisco.
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Bartender wins rum and coconut challenge
A cocktail combining beer with the classic flavours of a Piña Colada helped to earn Marco Piroli first place in this year’s Coco Lopez & El Dorado Cocktail Challenge. Marco, from London’s Lab bar, took home £1,000 and a 21-year-old bottle of El Dorado Rum after his Pina CoLager and The Bounty Hunter cocktails impressed judges. The award for best twisted Piña Colada was won by Ami St Claire of former Newcastle upon Tyne bar Popolo.
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Sparkling Argentine wine to launch in UK
Moët Hennessy is set to launch a sparkling Argentine wine under the brand name Chandon in the UK. There will be two wines: a brut, which is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and a rosé, which is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and a hint of Malbec.
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Details revealed for new Mortlach whiskies
Diageo has revealed details of its new releases of Mortlach whisky after its announcement of investment in the distillery and brand. Available in the UK from June in 50cl bottles, they will be the complex and bold Mortlach Rare Old, the Mortlach 18 Year Old, with meaty notes, malty sweetness and balancing acidity, and the Mortlach 25 Year Old, which is highly complex and multi-faceted with dense layers of decadent sweetness.
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Bar team off to Jamaica after rum cocktail win
Shem Gordon from Radio Bar at the ME Hotel in London has won a trip for himself and his bar team to Jamaica. Shem, who is from Jamaica, and two other finalists in the Appleton Estate #DiscoverRum competition were challenged to create an original cocktail using the Jamaican rum.
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New packaging for classic liqueurs
First Drinks has introduced new bottle and packaging designs for two of its liqueur brands. Bénédictine’s bottle has switched to green glass with a contemporary and cleaner front and neck labels to create more stand-out on shelf. A new bottle design across all 43 liqueurs in the De Kuyper range keeps the bartender-friendly classic long neck but the shape is sleeker, giving it a more modern look and feel. The front label features higher on the bottle for clearer visibility on the back bar and the De Kuyper name is now embossed on the glass.
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World Cup licensing hours extended
The Government has announced that it will relax licensing hours for the on-trade during England’s World Cup matches for four hours to a latest time of 1am. The move was welcomed by the British Beer & Pub Association and the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR). The ALMR’s strategic affairs director Kate Nicholls said: “The relaxation will alleviate the need for thousands of pubs and bars to apply for costly and time-consuming Temporary Event Notices, saving the industry and local authorities around £2.5million per England game and will ensure a much welcome boost in trade.”

TCG plans festival of football
Managed pub and bar group TCG is to organise a “Festival of Football” to promote broadcasts of the 2014 Fifa World Cup in its venues. It has created point-of-sale materials which echo classic Latin American football posters. The theme will carry over onto venues’ websites which feature countdown clocks and details of matches being shown. TCG is also running tailored food and drink offers, including activity with Budweiser and Coca-Cola which are official World Cup partners.

New online training for TGI Friday’s
TGI Friday’s has set up a new online training system to complement the launch of its national Academy of Excellence training centre. The Online Academy will allow staff to learn and develop wherever they are, providing courses and online-based learning aimed at a variety of levels and experience.

Pressure by trade saves personal licence
The Home Office has announced that, after pressure from the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and other trade organisations, it will abandon plans to scrap the personal licence. The proposal was raised last year as a deregulatory measure but consultation found that 90% of people thought the move would undermine the licensing objectives. Kate Nicholls, ALMR strategic affairs director, said: “Removing the personal licence would have been a retrograde step certain to result in additional bureaucracy at a local level.”

New CEO for Scottish brewer
C&C Group has appointed Brian Calder as chief executive of Tennent Caledonian Breweries. He will move into the role from his current position as managing director of Wallaces TCB, which was formed after C&C Group’s full acquisition of the Wallaces Express business earlier this month. John Gilligan has indicated a desire to wind down as managing director of Tennent Caledonian Breweries and will work with Brian until the transition is complete.

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