Jumping ahead of the trends
A note on nightclub company Luminar by analysts at Altium Securities reports some of the emerging trends within the sector. These include, apparently, a move to greater supply of seating (including pre-bookable booths), more targeted entertainment offers and far better understanding of the target customer. Oh and there's one more — the charging of a price premium to queue-jump. It sounds like a lesson learnt from the cheap and cheerful airlines. Presumably, somebody in the nightclub sector, like bosses at Ryanair have admitted, is thinking about how to charge customers to go to the toilet.
Realistic price for heroic pub
One of Scotland's most famous pubs has a new owner — after its price felt the gravitational pull of the economic climate. The Pennan Inn was the backdrop for Local Hero, in which Burt Lancaster played an oil tycoon who gets a lesson in life courtesy of down-to-earth Scottish folk. Peter Simpson, who runs a furniture import business, has bought it for around £225,000 — two years after it went on the market for a more heady £425,000.
Hall passes moving-on test
It's always a test of an employer's maturity when an employee moves on to bigger and better things. You know, some folk can get a bit funny about these things. Last week, the Morning Advertiser reported that former Orchid manager Sam Hagger is now running two Everards tenancies after two years running Orchid's Porridge Pot carvery in Warwick. Orchid boss Rufus Hall passes the test with flying colours. He tells City Diary: "Great guy is Sam — wish we could have him back, but I think he's destined for big things on his own."
Foster's finger on the pub pulse
One brewery staffer with his finger on the pulse is Carlsberg's impressive senior customer marketing manager Tim Foster. He owns a quarter share in the freehold of the Wiremill, Lingfield, West Sussex, where turnover has climbed from around £250,000 per annum to well over the £1m mark. Now he's taken over Shepherd Neame's the Grove Ferry, which is nine miles from Canterbury. City Diary hears that turnover has already been lifted from £6,000 to £20,000 per week and there are plans on the drawing board that will lift takings into the stratosphere. We'll be watching this space.
Morrissey does the right thing
It's hats off to Men Behaving Badly star Neil Morrissey who has decided to give all his earnings minus living costs to his creditors for the next three years. The actor owes them £2.5m after doomed investing in a string of hotels and pubs. He said: "People advise you to take the easy route — it'll only last a year and you'll be back up and running. But I just thought there are too many good people who've lost their money on these deals, and I wanted to repay them as much as I possibly could. I feel morally obliged. Afterwards I'll feel better about myself. Now I'm working very, very hard. Every second out there to earn another penny. I don't sit around and get depressed about things. It's not my character." Good for you, Neil
Kilimanjaro quartet gear up
Pub operators Paul Salisbury, David Salisbury, Lee Cash and Tim Doyle are climbing Kilimanjaro to raise £25,000. Paul Salisbury, the brains behind Mitchells & Butlers Project Orange gastro-chain, who is the oldest member of the party at 49, tells City Diary: "We've been going to the gym three times a week and Lee's been to Austria for some hill-climbing. And we're going to the Malverns for some walking shortly. I think we're all reasonably fit because we're on our feet all time." Diners at the quartet's pubs are being invited to pay a voluntary 50p addition to their bills as part of the fund-raising push. The intrepid quartet can be sponsored on www.thethreemountaineers.co.uk
AIB avoids worse pain
Companies House documents reveal that Allied Irish Bank has lost a lot of money funding the acquisition of Bar Room Bar. But it could have been worse. In March this year, administrator Zolfo Cooper asked Colliers CRE to value the viable parts of the company, two freehold and eight leasehold venues. Colliers CRE came back with a valuation of £4.325m, which was exceeded handsomely by a bid of just under £8m for the property part of the business (the rest of the £8.5m eventually bid was made up of rent deposits and fixtures and fittings and such like). It's a result.