This week’s exclusive Diary includes Michael Turner pondering acquisitions; Mitchells & Butlers dazzling through digital; Marco Pierre White laying down the law; and what Ralph Findlay and Phil Dixon had on their football shirts. Brumby gets involved Ubiquitous City analyst Mark Brumby has a sideline as a sector investor. He already has a stake in funky City bar operator Drake & Morgan where he sits on the board as a non-executive. Yesterday, M&C broke the news that former Pizza Express chief executive David Page had beaten his old chum Luke Johnson in the race to acquire Real Greek - and Brumby features in the supporting cast as an investor. Clayton investigates Rolling out a new hostel concept or a chain of wine bars may be enough for most operators, but not Will Clayton, owner of the fledgling business Gresham Inns Pub Company. Clayton, who operates the Pride of Paddington pub and the iconic Cork & Bottle wine bar in London, has decided to add another string to his bow, by investing in Bluemoon Investigations group, the largest national private investigation agency in the UK. So if you have a problem and no one else can help, Diary know’s exactly who you should call. Peter Grieve moves on Hardly a week goes by in the world of tenanted pubs without a change of personnel. This week is no different. Diary hears that long-serving Enterprise Inns head of recruitment and training Peter Grieve is leaving the company after the best part of two decades in harness. For the record, he was the seventh employee to join the company back in the early 1990s. Dixon and Findlay get shirty M&C Report's sister magazine The Publican’s Morning Advertiser runs an annual feature listing the UK’s 50 Most Influential people in the pub trade. Eighth-placed person, Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay, met sixteenth-placed Phil Dixon for lunch soon after publication. The venue was Richard Macey’s award-wining Fountain Inn in Clent, Worcestershire, where Macey had enterprisingly made-up football shirts with their numbers on for them to take away. Turner sizes up options A regular M&C Report reader noted Fuller’s chairman Michael Turner playing a very straight bat indeed to inquiries about acquisitions at results - before it was revealed that Fuller’s is trying to buy Capital Pub Company. Asked about that subject by M&C, Turner told us there were a number of small operators doing well in the sector that he admired, but that any sizeable estates that he admired had already been “taken out”. I suppose it depends on your definition of “sizeable estate”. Marco Pierre White: my gaff, my rules Celebrity chef Marco Pierre White is already making his mark on the six-strong group of coaching inns, Maypole Group, he bought out of receivership for £8m at the start of the year. Foster’s lager and Strongbow cider have disappeared from the bar at the Angel in Lavenham - much to the chagrin of some of the locals. And he’s setting out his vision: “When I take over an establishment I see myself as the caretaker. I accept not everyone will agree with my decisions. But I object to swearing, tattoos and dogs sitting on chairs. If I was going to take my mother to dinner there I would not wish her to be exposed to that sort of thing.” Quite right too. Diary smells the coffee Coffee Nation machines at petrol stations around the country are being replaced by Costa Express machines in the wake of the takeover by Whitbread. Diary’s local at the Tesco Express in Horsham changed over this week. And the verdict? Much slicker, much quicker - and the coffee tastes better too. Shame, in aesthetics terms, about the four foot tall Costa coffee cup now sited in the garage forecourt. Loungers expands, post haste Genteel Stamford in Lincolnshire is as pretty as a picture. Local operator Michael Thurlby has long dominated the local scene with two pubs and a boutique hotel in the town’s best trading drag. Now West Country cafe bar up-and-comers Loungers are set to build their third Cosy Club site in the town - the second site, in Bath, opened last week. And they’ve got themselves a corking site. They’ve got their hands on the characterful old post office, beating both JD Wetherspoon and Carluccio’s to the lease. Works should start on converting the shell in early August. M&B’s a digital marvel Digital marketing is fascinating, isn’t it? Costa, Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) and Pizza Express were among the winners at this year’s Marketing Society Awards for Excellence. M&B held off competition from Tesco, Standard Life and BSkyB to win the prize for customer insight. Diary was e-mailed a copy of the Mitchells & Butlers entry. We’ll be reporting the contents in detail shortly but there’s no doubt that the UK pub and restaurant sector is at the forefront in terms of utilising social media. Here’s one snippet: M&B invited guests who fill out customer surveys to join its guest database to receive future offers. This has increased its digital database by a third and provided more access to consumers who actively seek offers and therefore may be more likely to defect to competitors. A recent example in Sizzling Pub Company is offer of two steaks and drink for £10.99. In total, 45,000 people (27% of those contacted) downloaded the voucher, with an email open rate of 38% compared to the industry standard of 20-25%. Outstanding work, guys.