Industry news round-up: March 4, 2013

hawksmoor air street
Our weekly round-up of industry news for the week to March 4, 2013

Bar operators among UK’s best employers
Leading bar operators have been listed as among the best British companies to work for in the annual ranking published by The Sunday Times. In third place is bar-restaurant group TGI Friday’s, with London restaurant and bar operator Hawksmoor (pictured) in fifth place. In ninth place is Living Ventures whose venues include The Alchemist, Australasia and The Oast House in Manchester as well as the Blackhouse Grill concept nationally. Inventive Leisure, which operates Revolution bars, is at 25 and The Savoy hotel, home to the American and Beaufort bars, is at 39. Belfast-based Botanic Inns, which operates 16 bars, clubs and hotels, is at 78. Click here for full story.

Alcohol consumption continues to fall in UK
New figures out today for UK alcohol consumption in 2012 show that the amount Britons drink has fallen for the sixth year out of the past eight. Consumption per head is 16 per cent lower than it was in 2004 when the current trend began, according to the British Beer & Pub Association which compiled the new data based on HM Revenue & Customs alcohol tax returns. Last year, alcohol consumption dropped to 7.99 litres per head per year – the first time it has been below eight litres since 1998.

Brewer to launch craft beer bar in Edinburgh
A new craft beer bar, The Vintage, is to be launched in Leith, Edinburgh, next week by Darren Blackburn, formerly general manager of The Caley Sample Rooms in Edinburgh, and Richard McLelland and Scott Williams of The William Bros Brewing Co. It is opening in the former home of restaurant Café Fish which moved to Edinburgh’s New Town. The Vintage is described as a dedicated craft beer bar and kitchen offering an “eclectic, ever-changing” range of craft beers and a “considered” charcuterie menu. The core beer range will come from Williams Bros alongside a diverse selection focusing on seasonal craft beers from around the world.

Countdown to Manchester’s Boutique Bar Show
Details of this year’s Boutique Bar Show in Manchester on May 1 have been announced. Alongside a showcase of spirits, liqueurs and beers, there will be competitions, and presentations on cocktails. These include Jared Brown and Anastatia Miller on Cuban cocktails, Steam Punk Distillers on distillation, the team from the Rivoli Bar at London’s Ritz on the Manhattan, and Molecular on new bartending techniques. It also features the northern heat of the Brugal Rumble, an inter-city competition featuring bartenders from Manchester, Leeds, Chester and Liverpool. More at

Winners announced in Pink Pigeon competition
Leon Dalloway of The Whiskey Jar in Manchester and Gareth Evans of Pollen Street Social in London have been named as winners of the first Pink Pigeon Rum cocktail competition. After more than 70 bartenders entered nationwide, they won the UK heat and will fly to Mauritius. There, they will pair up to represent Team UK in a three-way competition against South Africa and Mauritius. Click here for full story and recipes.

Phileas Fogg-inspired bar planned by Inception Group
Inception Group, headed by Charlie Gilkes and Duncan Stirling, have revealed plans for their new site in London’s Mayfair, which is due to open this summer. Mr Fogg’s will be a recreation of the home of Phileas Fogg, the adventurer in Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days who lives in Mayfair after his travels. With the entrance hidden down a side street, the bar is set to be “refined” but “truly off-the-wall”. It will be headed by Mark Jenner, formerly bar manager of The Coburg Bar at The Connaught Hotel. Click here for full story.

New appointments at The Bramwell Pub Company
The Bramwell Pub Company has made three appointments in its operations team. Neil McKie, who was a finalist in the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers’ Operations Manager of the Year awards in 2011, joins from the Apartment Group, the north-east bar operator, to look after pubs in Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. Darren Rumbelow has moved from Inventive Leisure, where he was area manager for Revolution bars for the Midlands and south-west, to look after pubs in central London. Jason McKeon, who managed 12 sites in the south for Atmosphere Bars & Clubs, will be responsible for Bramwell’s pubs in the south-west.

Trade steps up campaign against beer duty escalator
The TaxPayers’ Alliance has launched a major new campaign urging Chancellor George Osborne to freeze beer duty in this month’s Budget, promoted through hundreds of thousands of beer mats in pubs and bars across the UK. It is calling for the public to contact local MPs via to call for an end to the beer duty escalator that has driven up tax by over 40 per cent in four years. Last week, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), the Campaign for Real Ale and the Society of Independent Brewers continued their campaign for a freeze in beer duty by taking a message in a hand-crafted oak barrel to Westminster and the Treasury.

Independent brewers report sales uplift
Local beer is offering a lifeline to Britain’s brewing and pub industries, with volume sales up by an estimated 6.8 per cent last year to over 1.4 million barrels, according to the Local Beer Report from the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA). Over the same period, on-trade beer sales overall declined by 4.7 per cent, according to the British Beer & Pub Association Beer Barometer. Click here for a PDF of the report.

Explorer inspires new beer from Somerset brewer
Somerset brewer Butcombe and on-trade drinks wholesaler Matthew Clark are joining forces to launch Matthew Pale Ale, a crisp, light amber beer. It is inspired by 15th-century Bristolian explorer John Cabot and his legendary ship The Matthew. With an ABV of 3.8 per cent, it is made with Maris Otter malt, English Challenger hops and American Amarillo hops to give it citrus notes and a clean, dry finish.

Bulmers promotes great times with TV ad
A new advertising campaign is going live on TV for Bulmers cider this month, with the message that a refreshing pint of Bulmers over ice is the perfect way to start great times with friends. It can be viewed at

Spitfire Ale teams up with Armstrong and Miller
Kent brewer Shepherd Neame has announced a new partnership between its Spitfire Ale and comedy duo Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller in the guise of their popular RAF airmen characters. The pair will take part in TV advertising and wider on-trade and off-trade initiatives.

LIWF to showcase Chinese wine for first time
Chinese wine will be represented at this year’s London International Wine Fair for the first time. The show, running at London Excel from May 20 to 22, will feature Château Hansen, established by the Han family in the 1980s and overseen by French winemaker Bruno Paumard since 2010. China will be among more than 30 countries represented at the fair. Show director Ross Carter said: “We are delighted that Château Hansen will be using the LIWF as a launch platform into the UK and key European markets.”

WSET announces new trustees
Two new trustees have been appointed at wine and spirits training specialist WSET after the retirement of Bill Page and Christopher Hayman. Andrew Hawes, managing director of Mentzendorff & Co, will represent the Wine and Spirit Trade Association on the board and Jonathan Driver, a consultant who formerly worked at Diageo, will represent the Worshipful Company of Distillers.

Fans to help Glenmorangie design new whisky
Glenmorangie has launched a whisky programme that will involve its fans in the selection of a new limited-edition whisky. Glenmorangie Cask Masters will run for 18 months and involve consumers across the world in the development of a new release to launch in late 2014. Working with Dr Bill Lumsden, director of distilling and whisky creation at the Glenmorangie Company, consumers will be able to provide their opinions and votes to select the new whisky. The winning dram will be chosen from three different ageing whiskies that are nearing the end of their maturation. Visit

Charity to raise funds with visit to royal gardens
Industry charity Hospitality Action will host a spring tour of the gardens at Highgrove House – home to the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall – on April 30 to raise funds. The event will also include a champagne reception and a three-course lunch at the five-star Whatley Manor. Tickets are £100 and include coach transfers between Whatley Manor and Highgrove. Details on 020 3004 5504 or at

Ex-St John Hotel team open Manhattan-inspired restaurant
Matt Edwards, previously of St John Hotel and Hix Soho in London, is to launch his first solo venture, Master & Servant, in Hoxton Square, London, today (March 4). Inspired by Manhattan, the restaurant will feature a seasonal menu focusing on its charcoal grill plus smoked meats and charcuterie. Cocktails have been created by the team at the restaurant’s Hoxton neighbour, Happiness Forgets, and include the Nolitan, a sour fizz made with manzanilla sherry, Kamm & Sons ginseng spirit, lemon juice and egg white.

Operators commit to work placements
Pub and bar operators pledged to create 100 work placements within hours of the launch of Pub and Bars Careers initiative by the industry Perceptions Group last week. More than 40 operators attended an event in London to hear about the initiative to create work placements in the licensed trade, which is supported by the Hospitality Guild. The Perceptions Group was set up by the bosses of leading bar and pub operators. Visit

Hospitality charity backed by TGI Friday’s
TGI Friday’s has made Springboard, which helps young people start careers in hospitality, its charity of choice for fund-raising activities across the UK in 2013. Springboard will also work with the company to help recruit new team members, apprentices and work experience placements.

Bar Essentials promotion: Grow with Zonal and Socket Mobile
For businesses looking for sustainable growth and improved efficiencies, turn to Socket Mobile epos solutions from Zonal, the UK’s number-one supplier of hospitality epos systems. The Socket Mobile SoMo 655 handheld computer is the ideal platform for hospitality epos, with an easy-to-read screen, fast processing power and reliable wi-fi connections. For over 30 years, Zonal has helped multiple hospitality retailers achieve their business goals. The company invests more in product development than any other epos company in the UK, ensuring its customers stay one step ahead of the competition. Visit or call 0800 131 3400.

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