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International restaurant chain Nobu to open hotels – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

14 April 2009 by
International restaurant chain Nobu to open hotels – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

International restaurant chain Nobu to open hotels
Read the full article in the Sunday Telegraph >>

Wetherspoon drops its 99p-a-pint offer
Pub operator JD Wetherspoon has called time on the controversial 99p-a-pint deal it launched in January, which had attracted criticism that it was encouraging binge drinking. It has now increased to £1.29 the cost of a pint of Ruddles and of a bottle of Beck's lager. Wetherspoon had originally cut prices on a pint of Greene King IPA and on bottle of San Miguel lager, but switched after Greene King complained that the promotion was undermining its beers' premium image. The pub operator had originally said the offer, combined with other cheap food and drink deals, would run indefinitely. A spokesman said yesterday: "At £1.29 it is still bloody good value - probably the best around - and allows us to keep the price for a longer period." The offer gained coverage in 400 newspapers and helped boost Wetherspoon's like-for-like sales in the first two weeks by 6%. - 10 April, Read the full article in The Times >>

Banks threaten to pull the plug on Tiger Tiger owner Novus Leisure, the owner of the Tiger Tiger bar chain, is holding urgent meetings with its landlords this week in a bid to secure rent cuts to stave off its collapse. Its lenders, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Barclays, have threatened to pull the plug on the company if it does not cut costs. Novus's owner, private-equity firm Cognetas, has been in restructuring talks with the two banks since January as its high debts raised fears it would breach its banking covenants. In March, the banks rejected Cognetas' offer to inject another £15m into Novus and instead agreed with Novus's managers to take over and invest if costs are cut. Otherwise, it is rumoured, the banks will call in the administrators. A source said the business was performing "very well" and "trading well ahead of expectations". Cognetas bought Novus for £115m in 2005 and, in 2007, invested another £20m in the company that also runs several other bars and nightclubs in the City of London and the West End, including Sugar Reef, Zoo Bar, Strawberry Moons and Abacus. - 13 April, - Read the full article in the Daily Telegraph >>

VAT change will bring chaos to New Year's Eve, warns pub trade
The pub industry is calling on the government to delay the reintroduction of the 17.5% VAT rate by at least a month to avoid chaos on New Year's Eve. The current 15% VAT rate is set to revert to the higher level at the stroke of midnight on December 31, which publicans warn will cause chaos as staff struggle to reprogramme tills and change the prices on blackboard menus. "Maybe the officials who thought this up are tucked up in bed on New Year's Eve, but it is the busiest night of the year for the trade," commented Nick Bish, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers. A spokesman for HM Revenue & Customs said the department would work with business to ensure an easy transition. - 12 April , Read the full article in the Mail on Sunday >> -


Italian hoteliers to sue TV weather forecasters for lost business
Furious hoteliers in the Tuscan resort of Forte dei Marmi in Tuscany are planning to take legal action against Italy's weather forecasters for predicting Easter storms at the resort when in fact it basked in sunshine and temperatures of 24°C. They claim that the "hazardous guesswork" and "cheating cynicism" of Italian forecasters have cost them at least 10% of their business by deterring guests. Paolo Corchia, head of the hotels association, complained that five customers had cancelled reservations at his hotel. "If we are lucky we will only lose 10% of business, which you can add to the 20% drop due to the financial crisis," he said. The hoteliers' action is backed by the mayor - but they may have some difficulty deciding which of Italy's three TV networks to target. - 13 April, Read the full article in the Guardian >>

Recession eats into regional hotels' profits
The recession is biting especially hard into profits at regional hotels, according to market researchers. Figures from TRI Hospitality suggests that the 13% drop in revenue per available room in January translated into a 29% fall in profits at regional hotels, while some estimates indicate a 40% fall in hotel profits this year. The economic downturn has hit the mid-market sector - especially independent owner-operators - especially hard as they are losing business to both the expanding budget sector and to the upmarket brands' promotions. However, the hard times are providing bargain property deals for some operators such as Travelodge, which is looking into 100 projects, and for committed independents such as Geoff Dunford, owner of The Close hotel in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, and The Beeches in Bristol, who is being bombarded with offers. Richard Balfour Lynn , chairman of De Vere owner the Alternative Hotel Group, does not expect the hotel sector to recover from the ravages of the recession until the end of 2010 "at the very earliest". - 12 April, Read the full article in the Sunday Times >>

By Angela Frewin

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