This week’s Diary includes the Business Growth Fund and Comptoir Libanais, Ted Tuppen’s remuneration, and a good day for the BBPA.

Out on its own

This summer we reported that the Business Growth Fund (BGF) was in early talks with Comptoir Libanais regarding investing in the London-based Lebanese fast-casual concept. Diary now hears that these talks haven’t borne fruition, with Comptoir Libanais, which is led by Tony Kitous, able to access some internal funding to aid its foreseeable growth, which includes scheduled openings at Heathrow Airport, the Kingston Riverside scheme and in Chelsea next year. Its rate of current growth is sure to interest other investors, while Diary understands that the BGF is working on making further inroads into the sector in 2014.


BBPA boost

It’s been a good day for the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA). Firstly the group announced that it has signed a partnership deal with Pubs of Ulster, which represents operators in Northern Ireland, to work closer on areas of mutual interest. Meanwhile, the BBPA’s latest accounts, published today, show that the trade body returned to pre-tax profit in the year to 30 September, despite a 3% dip in turnover and on-going costs associated with its restructure. Speaking to Diary, BBPA CEO Brigid Simmonds described the year as “very successful”. They say good things come in threes, so for the BBPA, could this mean the Government will be binning much-criticised plans to force a statutory code on tenanted pubcos? Time will tell.


Sheps attacks Government’s “Luddite” approach

Talking of the statutory code, and Shepherd Neame is among a number of tenanted pub operators to issue scathing criticism of the proposals in its response to the Government’s consultation. One of the many aspects that irked the Kent-based company regards the proposed banning of the use of flow monitoring equipment to issue fines for buying outside the tie. The Government’s reasoning was that the tie had existed for centuries without the need for such equipment. Sheps described this thought process as “naive at best” and said it “totally fails to acknowledge the fact that existing channels and means of distribution would be unrecognisable in the 18th century”. “Indeed, it is the Luddite approach to evolving technologies which would oppose the introduction of HawkEye to cricket,” the company continued. “Does the Government seriously believe that pubs should not utilise modern till systems because they could function without this technology in the 18th century?”


Never stumped

It is fair to say that Living Ventures co-founder and chief executive Tim Bacon is never short of energy or ideas. Unsurprisingly, after a certain recent cricket test finished, Diary found the Australian-born Bacon in exuberant mood and looking to further enhance his growing estate, including adding further space to the group’s Artisan Kitchen and Bar venture in Manchester’s Spinningfields. At 12,000sq ft, Bacon thought the existing unit was a bit small so has taken some ground floor space which he tells us will give it “a higher visual profile, as if it needed it!” There is also 1,500sq ft still undeveloped at the 1st floor, which is going to be a boutique cinema seating c50. As he says, it should be quite an operation once finished.


Dunkin’ drive

Diary was interested to hear that US doughnut brand Dunkin’ Donuts has faith in the potential of the UK market. The company’s UK general manager Jim Johnstone told M&C Report that there’s a long term target to have an incredible 1,000 stores on these shores, with Drive Thrus and sites in major transport destinations a big focus. “In American the transport hub is important,” Johnstone told Diary. “The saying in America is, Dunkin’ needs to be in the way, and on the way.” Diary wonders whether the group’s expansion will be in the way of ambitions from rival operators.


Sustainable cities

Newcastle, Belfast, Bournemouth, Cardiff, Liverpool and Stockport have been named as the first six cities in the UK that will receive funding to support efforts in improving food culture and becoming a Sustainable Food City. The Sustainable Food Cities Network aims to make healthy and sustainable food a defining characteristic of any city, and to use good food to address some of today’s most pressing social, economic and environmental problems including obesity, food poverty and climate change. The six cities has been selected from a shortlist of 13 pioneering cities to receive a share in the £1m funding that will set it on its way to becoming a Sustainable Food City. The Sustainable Food Cities programme, led by the Soil Association, Food Matters and Sustain and funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, will create six exemplar models of what a city can do to transform its food culture. More than 100 urban areas across the UK are expected to join the network by the end of the three-year programme.