Pubs (and bars) in brief …

Brewhouse & Kitchen has reported a busy festive period across its 22 brewpubs. Liquor and food sales were up 7% like for like. Pre-booked party covers were up 14%.

Mitchells & Butlers traded well over the core three-week Christmas period, the company has reported, with like-for-like sales growth of 5.6%, including strong performances on all of the key festive days. Overall sales have strengthened over the 14 weeks since the business’s last update, with like-for-like growth of 3.5%, and particularly strong food sales growth.

Cardiff brewery Brew Monster has launched a bar on the City’s High Street, close to the castle. The company crowdfunded to upgrade from its existing taproom.

Developer Crest Nicholson, Milton Keynes Development Partnership, and McMullen & Sons have teamed up to deliver a new pub at Campbell Wharf in Milton Keynes. Situated on the Grand Union Canal, the pub will offer a social hub and destination for residents and the local community. Offering indoor seating and 66 parking spaces, the pub will also feature a beautiful outside terrace and south-facing beer garden overlooking the marina.

The £1.3 million transformation of Shepherd Neame pub The Woolpack in Banstead, Surrey, has been marked with a launch party. The pub, on the village’s High Street, was closed during the major three-month project. It involved remodelling the layout and redecorating throughout, with stylish new décor and lighting aimed at retaining the pub’s warm, traditional feel, but with a quirky, modern touch.

Black Country Ales has re-opened the Seven Stars pub in Stourbridge. The venue is being run by Paul Hicks and Liz Oakley and will feature mostly the brewery’s own ales, with some guests.

Now purely a pub business, Fuller’s saw revenue rise 6% to £174.8m in the 26 weeks to September 28. Adjusted profit was level with the previous half-year at £17.9m. Chief executive, Simon Emeny, said: “Fuller’s is well funded, has a clear vision, a distinctive strategy, a portfolio of extremely high-quality assets, and an excellent culture, which stands us in good stead to navigate further political and economic turbulence.”

The Queen’s Head in Boughton, Kent, has -re-opened after a £100,000 refurbishment by Shepherd Neame. Reuben and Kate Love have taken charge of the historic 16th century pub, which offers cask ales as well as a selection of local and international lagers.

Geoff Thornton, founder of the Atlas Pub Co, has opened Hoist House, a bar offering craft beer and real ale, in the Wellington Place development, Leeds.

BrewDog has opened its 100th venue. The bar at Capital Dock, Dublin — the company’s first in Ireland — has an on-site five-hectolitre microbrewery.

Registrations for the World’s Biggest Pub Quiz, organised by PubAid in March, have passed 400. A target of 2,000 has been set before the contest gets under way, between March 8 and 12. To sign up, visit worldsbiggestquiz.pubaid.com/

Stonegate is to put 40 sites on the market to help address competition concerns surrounding its acquisition of the Ei group.

Robinsons has purchased the six-strong Individual Inns estate, according to industry website Propel. The pubs will join Robinsons’ managed estate in Cumbria and Yorkshire.

Woolpack Banstead

A £1.3million transformation of The Woolpack in the Surrey village of Banstead has been completed by Shepherd Neame. It has been remodelled to raetain its warm, traditional feel, but with a quirky modern touch. The drinks offer has been refreshed, with an extensive range of beer and cider on draught and in bottle.

NewRiver has announced the acquisition of community pub company Bravo Inns Limited for £17.9 million. Bravo Inns owns 44 wet-led community pubs, predominantly located in North West England. These will be converted to NewRiver’s Hawthorn Leisure brand, which operates 660 community pubs.

Brewhouse & Kitchen has won four categories at the NITA Bii Awards. There were triumphs in most innovative recruitment strategy, professional trainer of the year, and best managed training programme: under 50. In addition, chief executive, Kris Gumbrell, received the lifetime achievement award. The NITA awards celebrate the people and companies propelling the hospitality industry to higher standards. 

The Campaign for Real Ale has named the four finalists its club of the year competition. Among the finalists are former winners the Cheltenham Motor Club, in Gloucestershire (2017), the Flixton Conservative Club, in Greater Manchester (2018), and the Appleton Thorn Village Hall in Warrington (2019). The Orpington Liberal Club, in London, completes the quartet.

Lincolnshire Brewing Co has been put up for sale, along with a pub it owns. The Georgeis in the village of Langworth, where the brewery is based. The businesses are available separately or as a package through Sidney Phillips.

The British Beer & Pub Association has published the latest edition of its operating cost guide for tenants and lessees. The data is intended to help those wishing to take on a tenanted or leased pub business to be as well informed as possible about the current costs involved in running a pub. It can be downloaded here.

Guinness is opening a pop-up Pint-Sized Pub in London this week. The venue, with its cosy fireplace, Christmas tunes, and board games, will be on Flat Iron Square, from December 5-8. Tickets are obviously limited, so guests must reserve a space via Design My Night.

Laine Pub Company has opened Dead Wax Digbeth in the former Waggon and Horses pub on Birmingham’s Adderley Street. The premises is described as a music venue and vinyl bar.

Arkell’s Brewery is recruiting for new tenants to run the Village Inn, at Liddington, the Priory Inn, at Tetbury, and the Bell Inn, at Purton Stoke. Potential licensees can find more information, including an informative video, at www.arkellsrecruitment.co.uk/

Twenty-seven pubs celebrated their success with Wadworth at the brewer and regional pub operator’s annual Best of the Best Awards. Best beer and cellar quality was won by Anne and Kevin Ford, of the Beehive, Yeovil (tenanted pubs) and Matt Humphries, of the Three Crowns, Devizes (managed).

Admiral Taverns has completed the purchase of 137 pubs from Marston’s. Admiral also acquired 150 venues from Star Bars and Pubs in October.

Half Moon Herne Hill

The Half Moon, in Herne Hill, London, has been named Fuller’s pub pof the year, winning the coveted Griffin Trophy. The pub, run by Matthew Dutson, was acquired by Fuller’s in 2016 after it was damaged by flooding.

JD Wetherspoon has reported a rise in like-for-like sales of 5.3% in the 13 weeks to October 27, with total sales rising by 5.6%. Steve Miley, a senior market analyst at www.asktraders.com, said: “The figures show that JD Wetherspoon customers continue to spend in the 900 pubs across the UK, despite Brexit uncertainty. Whilst consumers are reining in their spending elsewhere, pub-goers haven’t been deterred. Costs remain a challenge, particularly staff wages. Given the difficult trading conditions, these are encouraging results.”

The British Beer and Pub Association has published new guidance for pubs, titled An Open Welcome: Making Your Pub More Accessible For Customers, which will help licensees make their venues as welcoming as possible for those with access needs. The guidance has been published on Purple Tuesday (November 12), an international call to action focused on changing the customer experience for disabled people and improving awareness of their value and needs. 

The SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers) Business Awards 2020 will, for the first time, feature an award for the UK’s best independent craft beer taproom, following huge growth in the number of breweries opening their doors and serving beer on-site.

The British Beer & Pub Association has welcomed plans to extend pub opening hours for the VE Day 75 celebrations. Under the proposals, pubs, clubs and bars which are licensed to trade until 11pm could be allowed to open until 1am on both Friday, May 8, and Saturday, May 9, 2020. The Friday will be a public holiday.

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