Crisis time for British pubs – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

01 September 2008
Crisis time for British pubs – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

Crisis time for British pubs
British Beer & Pub Association, said that there had been a "consistent and relentless" switch from pubs to retail outlets. He said that the switch to drinking at home, combined with other issues including the smoking ban, economic problems and a sharp increase in beer duty, had left pubs in "one of the most difficult periods ever". - 30 August. Read the full article in The Times >>

Coffee Republic is the latest coffee shop to reports losses
Coffee shops are the latest victims of the economic downtown with Coffee Republic reporting the chain's 12th consecutive year of losses, despite a quadrupling of outlets. The company lost £2.5m pre-tax for the year to March 30 on revenues down 40% to £5.85m. James Muirhead, Coffee Republic's finance director, made the announcement less than a month after Starbucks reported its first quarterly loss in more than 15 years. The US giant lost $6.7m (£3.7m) in the three months to the end of June, compared to a $158m profit during the same period a year earlier. "It would be naive not to expect a slowdown and belt tightening in the current economic climate," said Muirhead. Research by the CBI has shown that customers are now cutting back on high-street coffees as prices rise and the credit crunch bites. - 30 August. Read the full article in The Daily Telegraph >>

Restaurant Group denies threat from sale of Gatwick and Stanstead
Suggestions that the outlets run by the Restaurant Group may be threatened by BAA's plans to sell three of its airports, have been dismissed by the company's chief executive, Andrew Page. The group, which concentrates is business on airports and out-of-town shopping malls, runs 44 airport concessions, 30 of which are in BAA-owned terminals. However, there is concern that the new airport owners may bring in new companies to run the lucrative restaurant concessions. Page, though, sees things differently, believing a change in ownership may provide the Restaurant Group, which operates 25 outlets at Gatwick and Stanstead including Garfunkel's and Frankie & Benny's, with an opportunity for expansion. - 30 August. Read the full article in the Financial Times >>

Gordon Ramsay slams queen's chef for serving "prehistoric food"
The latest foul-mouthed outburst from Gordon Ramsay has been directed at Royal Chef, Mark Flanagan. In an interview on American television, he told chat-show host Jay Leno that the canapés he was served during a reception held at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the work of the British hospitality industry were "absolutely, shockingly s***. They looked prehistoric, like 300 years old." A Palace spokesman said: "Gordon was invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace. I would direct you to the comments he made immediately afterwards in which he said he enjoyed the food there." - 30 August. Read the full article in The Daily Mail >>

Credit crunch puts sale of sandwich chain eat and pizza business Prezzo on hold
Falling business valuations are believed to be responsible for the abandonment of plans by husband and wife team Niall and Faith MacArthur to sell the 92-strong EAT chain of sandwich shops. Part owned by the private equity firm Penta Capital, EAT was originally put up for sale with a price tag of £120m-£150m, following a review by its adviser PricewaterhouseCoopers. But sources close to the group said: "It just doesn't make any sense to sell a business like EAT at the moment. The valuations are just two low. That's not to say it won't be sold in the future when things recover." At the same time, the proposed management buyout of Prezzo, the AIM-listed pizza chain, is also thought to be in trouble. News of plans to hold off the sale of EAT and Prezzo comes at the end of a difficult summer for the leisure industry, with businesses like Leon, the London chain of healthy fast-food restaurants is rumoured to be struggling, though it continues to expand. - 31 August. Read the full article in The Independent on Sunday >>

Church of England plans wine bars in Birmingham
A chain of city-centre wine bars are planned for Birmingham in a move by the Church of England to attract and retain worshippers. The radical move is being put forward by Mark Hope-Urwin, a former executive with the John Lewis department store chain who has been recruited by Birmingham Cathedral to oversee a change to its image and branding, and could become a blueprint for dioceses across the country. The wine bars would feature stained-glass windows, pictures on a religious theme and be decorated in "episcopal purple". They would be intended to raise the cathedral's profile around the city, and would represent a significant departure from current practice, which is limited to bookshops and cafes in some cathedrals and churches. - 31 August. Read the full article in The Sunday Telegraph >>

Glasgow commonwealth games in 2014 will boost scottish expansion of Travelodge
Budget chain Travelodge is benefiting from the economic downturn and the public's demand for cheaper accommodation, as it looks ahead to host the thousands of sporting fans expected to travel to Glasgow for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. A fourth Travelodge has just opened in the Glasgow area in Renfrew, at a cost of £4.1m, and a further three are planned for the city over the next six years, creating a total of around 800 bedrooms. The company's expansion in Glasgow is part of a wider plan to increase the number of rooms throughout the UK from 25,000 to 70,000 by 2020. - 31 August. Read the full article in Scotland on Sunday >>

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