<b>Pub landlords face tenfold rise in cost of licence</b>

Pub landlords could be hit by tenfold rises in the cost of their licences under plans put forward by the Government. The Home Office is proposing to hand the power to set licence fees – paid by bars, pubs and anywhere that serves alcohol – from Whitehall to local authorities. It also plans to scrap the banding scheme that links the price of the licence to the rateable value of the property.

The industry fears this will see struggling pubs forced to pay hundreds of pounds more. The Home Office estimates that local authorities could benefit by £14m to £16m though it adds the figure could be higher and vary greatly between authorities.

The owner of a band B pub, the typical band for a pub, pays £180 a year for a licence. The proposed cap under the new scheme is £740. For smaller pubs paying £70 that would represent a 957 per cent increase. Brigid Simmonds, head of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: ‘We are asking publicans to write to the Home Office with their views.’ The consultation closes on April 10.

<i>Mail on Sunday</i>

<b>Vicars report greatest job satisfaction while publicans are least happy</b>

Want to be happy in your work? Go to theological college and avoid a career pulling pints. That would seem to be one conclusion to draw from a new study into wellbeing and public policy, which found that employees reporting greatest job satisfaction were vicars, while publicans – who on average earn almost £5,000 a year more – were the least happy in their work.

Overall job satisfaction, in fact, has little to do with salary, according to the figures drawn from Office for National Statistics data. While company chief executives, earning £117,700 a year on average, were found to be the second happiest employees (mean clergy income by contrast is a mere £20,568), company secretaries, fitness instructors and school secretaries, all earning less than £19,000 a year, emerged among the top 20 most satisfying careers.

Slumped with pub landlords at the bottom of the list of 274 occupations were construction workers, debt collectors, telephone sales workers and care workers, all earning significantly below the national average salary of £26,500. But chemical scientists, earning almost £10,000 more, only scraped into the top 200, while quantity surveyors, on £38,855, could do no better than 234th place.

The data has been used to help inform a report, published on Friday by the Legatum Institute, an independent thinktank that examines wellbeing as a core part of national prosperity, alongside wealth. “Not only does GDP fail to reflect the distribution of income, it omits intangibles, or feelings, that are not easily reducible to monetary values,” note its authors, who were chaired by Lord O’Donnell, formerly the head of the civil service. “There is a growing recognition that the measures of a country’s progress need to include the wellbeing of its citizens.”

<i>The Guardian</i>

<b>Pubs and parents to help schools serve free meals</b>

Thousands of small and remote schools are scrambling to organise meals on wheels for their pupils as they try to meet the government’s commitment to provide free lunches for all children under seven. About 8,000 schools are unable to provide hot lunches because they have inadequate kitchen facilities or they have been closed after proving uneconomic to run. As well as having hot food delivered, head teachers are examining ideas including mobile kitchens, deals with local pubs to heat up food and drafting in parents to help prepare meals.

Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, announced the £600m free meals initiative last year in a blaze of publicity. Many schools fear, however, that the cost of providing the meals from this September will exceed the government subsidy of £2.30 a meal. Some critics fear schools will be forced to cut staff to foot the bill. In response, a government-funded taskforce has been created to help schools with fewer than 150 pupils.

<i>Sunday Times</i>

<b>Dry bars – is England sobering up?</b>

Britain may be falling out of love with alcohol. As more and more dry bars open across the country, could it be that we are entering a new age of temperance? Alcohol is omnipresent,” says Catherine Salway, handing me something called a Beetroot Coco-tini. “You can’t even go to the cinema now without considering having a glass of wine. But I thought: ‘There’s a way to cut through that, and do the opposite.’”

Salway is 40, and the founder of a new “gastrobar” called Redemption, located at the foot of the Trellick Tower on Golborne Road, west London. The decor is stripped-down and chic: bare brick walls, neon signs and furniture that a neighbouring social enterprise has made out of other people’s junk. Sight unseen, you’d think you were in a reasonably typical urban hostelry. But that’s not quite true. The food here is “pretty much” vegan, but what really sets the place apart is a completely alcohol-free drinks menu. To read the full article click here http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/mar/21/dry-bars-is-england-sobering-up

<i>The Guardian</i>


<b>Quelle surprise, Paris relishes the Whopper</b>

When Burger King returned to France last year after 17 years, food purists scoffed at an initiative they said was an insult to Gallic gastronomic tradition. However, the Whopper swiftly became a luxury product.

Parisians queued three hours for one on the first day, and still often wait for 30 minutes for their dose of fast food at the restaurant by Saint Lazare station. The trend is such that Burger King has found itself in a situation reserved for the most refined fashion houses, such as Hermès or Dior — with the rarity of its products generating passion for them.

Now the US chain is seeking to return to the mass market by opening 25 stores in France this year. Burger King wants to capitalise on France’s enthusiasm for burgers. A recent study found that the French consume an average of 14 burgers each per year — up 40 per cent on 2011 — and the second highest number in Europe behind the British, who get through 17. About 70 per cent of the burgers are bought at McDonald’s, which has 1,285 restaurants in France and generated €4.35 billion sales in 2012.

Enthusiasm for the symbol of American cuisine has even reached top chefs, with Eric Fréchon producing a foie gras burger. A third of traditional French restaurants now have a burger on their menu, according to the study by a food consultancy. Burger King abandoned France in 1997, when burgers were being held up by gastronomes as the symbol of bad food. Later this year it will open a 1,000sq m store on the Left Bank in Paris — putting it right in the heart of the French intellectual establishment.

<i>The Times</i>

<b>Easterbrook nears top job at McDonald’s</b>

Steve Easterbrook’s journey from Watford Grammar to the top job at the world’s biggest fast food chain appears to have taken a big step forwards after one of his main rivals at McDonald’s bowed out. A year after his appointment as executive vice-president and global chief brand officer, the Englishman’s role has been expanded to include responsibility for corporate strategy, “restaurant solutions” and the corporate responsibility, sustainability and philanthropy department. His elevation was sparked by the announcement that Tim Fenton, 56, would be stepping down as chief operating officer after 41 years with the company due to his severe asthma, which was preventing him from continuing “to meet the global travel demands of this position”.

<i>The Times</i>

<b>Masterchef host Wallace’s restaurant goes bust with £300k debts</b>

Masterchef host Gregg Wallace has lost almost £300,000 after his latest ­business collapsed. The troubled star – due back on BBC1 on Wednesday for a 10th series of the hit cookery contest – shut his Wallace & Co restaurant in Putney, south-west London, last month.  Official documents show its ­parent company Wallace Cafes Ltd has gone into voluntary liquidation, leaving him £293,000 out of pocket. And the business still owes creditors £93,000.

<i>Sunday People</i>

<b>Jean-Christophe Novelli: ‘I’m losing my hearing’</b>

Jean-Christophe Novelli, the award-winning chef, has disclosed that he is suffering from severe hearing loss exacerbated by his years in noisy kitchens. The clanging of stainless steel, the clatter of washing up and the stream of yelled instructions are part and parcel of restaurant life. It was only when Novelli began struggling to grasp conversations or follow TV programmes that he suspected he had a problem. Still, the 53-year-old remained in denial about his condition, believing that he was too young to be suffering from deafness. He finally received a diagnosis late last year of age-related and noise-related severe hearing loss.

<i>Sunday Telegraph</i>


<b>M&A at four-year low as cash floods into flotations</b>

The number of mergers and acquisitions in the UK has fallen to a four-year low during the first three months of the year, while flotations have had their strongest start since the peak in 2007. Despite all the right ingredients for dealmaking being present – an uptick in the economy, available financing and growing confidence – deal activity has remained sluggish.

Anthony Gutman, co-head of UK investment banking at Goldman Sachs, said: “One of the constraints in the first quarter has been the strength of the initial public offering (IPO) market. “A major component of M&A volumes comes from private equity and those portfolio companies that would traditionally be sold are being floated. Across the sectors, companies are achieving a premium in IPOs compared to sale.” Investment bankers in M&A departments have felt the pinch as fees from advisory work on completed deals fell by almost a third to $265.5m (£161m), the lowest year to date since 2003, according to data from Thomson Reuters.

<i>Sunday Telegraph</i>


<b>Why almost everything you’ve been told about unhealthy foods is wrong</b>

Eggs and red meat have both been on the nutritional hit list – but after a major study last week dismissed a link between fats and heart disease, is it time for a complete rethink? Could eating too much margarine be bad for your critical faculties? The “experts” who so confidently advised us to replace saturated fats, such as butter, with polyunsaturated spreads, people who presumably practise what they preach, have suddenly come over all uncertain and seem to be struggling through a mental fog to reformulate their script.

Last week it fell to a floundering professor, Jeremy Pearson, from the British Heart Foundation to explain why it still adheres to the nutrition establishment’s anti-saturated fat doctrine when evidence is stacking up to refute it. After examining 72 academic studies involving more than 600,000 participants, the study, funded by the foundation, found that saturated fat consumption was not associated with coronary disease risk. This assessment echoed a review in 2010 that concluded “there is no convincing evidence that saturated fat causes heart disease”. To read the full article click here http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/mar/23/everything-you-know-about-unhealthy-foods-is-wrong



<b>Diageo boss takes axe to managers</b>

The Diageo boss Ivan Menezes is preparing a fresh shake-up of the drinks giant that is expected to axe a layer of middle managers. Menezes, who took the helm in July, has pledged to deliver annual savings of £200m by the end of 2017. He has already restructured the sales force at Diageo, which makes Guinness, Smirnoff and Baileys. The chief executive is now preparing to reorganise many back-up teams, such as legal and human resources, which is expected to lead to job losses. However, insiders said that a big cull was unlikely.

At an industry conference last week, Menezes said he would “reconfigure and reduce the size” of teams in several departments. It is the latest stage of his efforts to reinvigorate the FTSE 100 company and change its culture. He has identified ways to cut its £600m supply chain spending by 12% and devolved more responsibility to regional management teams. It is not clear when the latest changes will be announced although analysts believe it could be in the next few weeks. Diageo declined to comment. The news comes as the company is locked in a dispute with its American rival Brown Forman, owner of Jack Daniel’s, over how Tennessee whiskey is made. Diageo owns a rival brand.

<i>Sunday Times</i>


<b>Bingo clubs to invest in new technology, games and clubs after Budget tax boost</b>

The bingo industry is set to reveal plans to invest millions of pounds in new technology, games and clubs this week after the Budget tax windfall.  Mecca Bingo, owned by Rank Group, is spending the money saved by George Osborne’s decision to slash tax on bingo from 20 per cent to 10 per cent to pay for new tablet devices in its clubs. Customers will be able to play dozens of cards at the same time on handheld computers. The company is also planning to launch new-look bingo-style games on the devices as well as ‘just for fun’ games to play between main bingo sessions.

Rank, which has a third of the bingo market with 97 clubs, has not opened a new venue since 2009, but it now has three in the pipeline. Britain’s biggest bingo company, Gala, is also understood to be planning a multi-million pound revamp of its 137 clubs. An industry source said: ‘It’s a really exciting time. One club closure has already been reversed, new ones will open and clubs which haven’t had a lick of paint in years will be transformed.’

<i>Mail on Sunday</i>


<b>Pay in key UK industries won’t recover until 2025</b>

Employees in a range of industries, including manufacturing, retail, hospitality and construction – where annual pay is, on average, £2,000 lower than it was four years ago – could wait until 2025 before their salaries return to 2007 levels, according to analysis by the TUC.

The figures reveal that construction workers are earning an average of £88 a week less than they were before the financial crisis seven years ago. Manufacturing workers’ wages are an average £33 a week less than in 2007, and in retail, wholesale, hotels and restaurants, employees are £25 a week worse off, with their earnings not predicted to recover until 2024. The cost of living meanwhile has soared by 25%. The labour market has also seen a huge increase in job insecurity, part-time work, short-term and zero-hours contracts, and a cut in remunerations such as extra payments for unsocial hours and pay progression (extra pay when moving up a scale in a job).

<i>The Guardian</i>

<b>Meet ‘Maidstone mum’</b>

Supermarket chiefs want her custom and politicians want her vote: meet “Maidstone Mum”, the swing shopper who is changing the status quo. “I used to do a Tesco online shop all the time – now I come to Lidl once a week,” says Caroline Preece as she wheels a trolleyload of shopping across the car park with her daughter Annabel. “I like Lidl because they do the brands as well – and it’s a lot cheaper. My brother-in-law lives in Germany and Lidl is his equivalent of Tesco.”

Preece is a Maidstone Mum, the women identified by Lidl UK boss Ronny Gottschlich as key to the retailer’s growing success in the UK. But the legions of middle-class women who now shop regularly at the so-called discounters also present a rich seam for political strategists who see them as a possible successor to Mondeo Man or Worcester Woman with the power to tip marginal constituencies in their favour.

Alongside rival Aldi, the German chain shot to fame during the recession as bargain-hunting Britons shunned mainstream retailers and started shopping around to save money. But even with the economy kicking into gear, their sales are still motoring ahead as more families do a bigger part of their weekly grocery shop with them. Aldi’s sales are currently rising by more than 30% a year and Lidl’s by nearly 16%, according to the latest industry data. “The Maidstone Mum is someone who previously would have thought, ‘I can’t be seen in a Lidl store’,” says Gottschlich in a recent interview. “They would have put the Lidl bag into a Marks & Spencer or Waitrose bag. Those Maidstone Mums are no longer afraid of being seen in a Lidl store.”


<b>And finally…</b>

<b>Like seaweed? Like kale? You’ll love sea kale!</b>

A vegetable that was a Victorian favourite, but then almost disappeared from our plates, has found itself back at the top of the hip list for chefs across the British Isles. As commercial growers nurture their first crops of sea kale in decades, and green-fingered foodies plant their own seeds, fans hunt for sea kale recipes online.

Its fans include top chefs Tom Kitchin and Raymond Blanc, who grows his own at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire. They cherish sea kale for its white, forced stems, which are ready between January and March. They taste like a cross between asparagus and celery and are often served with that classic asparagus accompaniment, hollandaise sauce. Later in the year, fried sea kale leaves can be served.

<i>The Independent</i>