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All Posts By Cristina Diaconu

Unique Beauty Festival Is Coming to Leeds

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Leeds is hosting on the 29th-30th weekend of September its first ever city-wide cosmetic festival that aims to look beyond beauty. Made Up Leeds will be an inclusive, city-wide festival with two days of free events, demonstrations, tutorials, speakers and special offers.

The festival includes talks from British makeup artist and columnist Ruby Hammer MBE, who co-founded Ruby & Millie make up, as well as makeovers, tutorials and a ‘meet and greet’ by Love Island stars Kaz Crossley and Alexandra Cane, plus demonstrations from top hair stylist and E4’s Body Fixers star Danny Richo.

Some of the biggest names in the city’s retail scene are involved the festival, including John Lewis, Harvey Nichols, Debenhams, Trinity Leeds, The Merrion Centre, St Johns Centre and The Light, supported by Leeds BID. In total, more than 90 cosmetics stores, franchises, restaurants and bars are taking part with more than 110 individual offers available.

“Leeds is already firmly on the map for its incredible retail offering but we’re ready to build on that reputation and take it one step further – we want Leeds to become a beauty capital of the UK. Leeds is a city where beauty can be found in so many different forms. Made Up Leeds will reflect that diversity, whilst offering a platform to the best talent from Yorkshire and further afield,” said Andrew Cooper, Chief Executive at Leeds BID.

Stand-out events include a Beauty Space pop-up on Briggate with its own ‘Glam Bars’ hosted by John Lewis, offering hair and make-up services for shoppers, and a ‘Beauty Bridge’ at Trinity Leeds with mini makeovers, hair tips and beauty advice. Commuters can also get glammed up at Harvey Nichols’ ‘Eyes & Lips’ counters located at Leeds Train Station throughout the weekend.

Festival-goers will need to sign up at to get their ‘Glamour Passport’ and goody bag, which can be picked up at collection points across the city centre and includes a full list of offers, samples and information on speakers and demonstrations.

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Aether Opens at Liverpool ONE

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Aether, the brand new concept bar from the team behind the award winning brand The Alchemist, has opened at its debut location in Liverpool ONE adjacent to The Club House on Chavasse Park.

“It’s been brilliant to see an exciting new concept become a reality over the last few months and we are delighted to be launching this amazing idea at Liverpool ONE. We know the area well and think Aether will beautifully compliment the exciting lineup of food and drink venues that Chavasse Park already offers,” said Simon Potts, Managing Director of The Alchemist group.

Designed by Nottingham-based interior design agency Macaulay Sinclair, the 1,600 sq ft bar stays true to The Alchemist’s offering, with a menu that features 21 cutting edge and classic cocktails inspired by the elements. The bar also has an immersive performance area for artists from neo-soul, jazz and hip-hop genres, a distinctive live music space for up to 50 guests and an additional alfresco seating area overlooking Chavasse Park for 80 covers.

“We’re thrilled to announce the opening of Aether which will further strengthen the evening offer at Liverpool ONE. The team at The Alchemist and Macaulay Sinclair have created a stunning new bar in a unique and attractive location within the city,” added Alison Clegg, Director, Asset Management, Grosvenor Europe.

This news follows the recent announcement that Liverpool ONE is to welcome Junkyard Golf Club in early 2018. Cushman & Wakefield and Metis Real Estate Advisors acted for Liverpool ONE. Westmark Estates and Harlow Property Consultants both represented Aether, on behalf of The Alchemist.

Grosvenor Europe invests in, develops, operates and manages real estate assets and funds, with a focus on vibrant European cities including Paris, Stockholm, Madrid and Liverpool. As of 31 December 2017 Grosvenor managed £2.4 billion/€2.7 billion of assets, including Liverpool ONE in the UK (which celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2018) and Skärholmen Centrum shopping centre in Stockholm, Sweden.

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Daylesford Opens Organic Farmshop & Café

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A stunning new organic farmshop & café is set to be opened by Daylesford on Sloane Avenue in the fashionable Brompton Cross area of London at the beginning of October. Spanning 7,500 square feet over three floors, the new farmshop & all day café will celebrate the sensational food and artisan skills of Daylesford’s renowned organic farm in the Cotswolds.

“For Daylesford’s fourth opening in London we wanted to find both a space and a home that retained the character and identity of our other London outlets and continued to echo the natural warmth and spirit of the farm. I’m delighted that we have found it in the heart of Brompton Cross, a vibrant, innovative area with a relaxed neighbourhood feel and community,” said  Carole Bamford, Founder Daylesford.

“As more and more consumers recognise the value and importance of consuming organically, both as a means of taking care of their own well-being as well as protecting the health of our environment, we are proud to be joining a striking range of lifestyle, well-being and fashion retailers and offering more of the farm and its produce to Londoners across this more expansive destination,” Carole continued.

The farmshop will be the ideal food shopping destination, with daily deliveries of the award- winning organic food made by hand on the Daylesford organic farm. Browse the cheese, milk, yoghurt and butter from the Creamery; freshly baked bread, cakes, pastries and biscuits from the Bakery; wholesome meals and soups from the farm kitchens and meat from Daylesford’s high-welfare, pasture-raised, organic animals.

There will be a wide range of fresh vegetables, salad and fruit from Daylesford’s organic Market Garden and further afield as well as larder essentials, wine and drinks, sustainable pieces for the home & garden and Daylesford’s recently launched, award-winning organic skincare range. A food-to-go counter will also offer a range of seasonal salads, sandwiches and other treats.

Meanwhile, the organic café will seat up to 80 guests for all day dining, serving Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch and Supper. All menus will put ingredients from Daylesford’s organic farm and Market Garden at centre stage, with dishes showcasing the seasonal flavours at their best to nourish the body and delight the taste buds.

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First Muffin Break Comes to Nottingham

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Muffin Break, the well known café-bakery chain, has opened its first Nottingham site. Situated in the intu, Victoria shopping centre, the new venue hosts a spacious 82-seater store and will create 15 full-time and part-time jobs for the local area.

“We’re thrilled to be opening our fourth Muffin Break store. We have been working hard to ensure we offer a diverse menu filled to the brim with delicious fresh treats. All of our food is made on-site daily by our bakers and we are committed to using high quality, fresh ingredients to ensure our customers get the very best experience. I hope the people of Nottingham love our new store as much as we do,” said Matt Jemmerson, Nottingham franchisee.

To celebrate the launch, the store has given away 25 golden tickets to the first customers through the door, which treated them to a variety of prizes, including free coffees, muffins and paninis. Moreover, Muffin Break also offered to one lucky customer a loaded Rewards Card with one free hot drink, every day for an entire year.

Whether customers are looking for an on the go pick me up or want a leisurely sip the afternoon away, Muffin Break offers a variety of special blend coffees, made from 100% Arabica beans. Its wide menu offers a range of freshly baked muffins, cakes and cookies, alongside delectable savoury options including soups, sandwiches and wraps.

“We’re delighted to be offering something different to the people of Nottingham. Our cafés are locally owned by our carefully selected franchisees, meaning our customers will receive a friendly, local coffee shop experience. We pride ourselves on offering our customers high quality, fresh, made on site food every day,” said Michelle Orr, Muffin Break Marketing Manager.

Speaking of the future, she added: “Muffin Break has exciting growth plans, with 10 more stores set to open within the next year alone – exciting times indeed.”

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The Collective Implements Recyclable Lids

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The Collective has recently delved into the very current issue of sustainability in the grocery industry and its impact on the wider environment. The alarming issue of single-use plastic has been gaining much media attention this year, especially since the airing of Blue Planet, with customers becoming more and more aware of the issue making changes to their day to day purchasing behaviour to lead more sustainable lives.

Well known for its 450g tubs of Gourmet live yoghurt, The Collective’s impactful black lids have been an iconic part of the brand’s identity since 2011. It has recently come to light that the majority of black plastic is not recycled in the UK, as currently in recycling plants, infrared sensors don’t pick up black plastic on the conveyor belts.

Determined to find a solution, The Collective’s in-house sustainability team have challenged their packaging suppliers and worked with leading industry experts to build their knowledge of the UK recycling infrastructure and find a way round the issue.

The Collective are excited to announce the launch of a first-to-market industry leading technology across the food and drink sector. From October, the lids on The Collective’s 450g and 900g tubs will incorporate a special pigment that makes them detectable across UK recycling plants, meaning consumers can now recycle the black lids with their generic plastic recycling.

“Infrared sensors in recycling plants don’t normally pick up black plastic on conveyor belts. This means our lids are not usually detected, classed as residual waste and incinerated. Now the lids are being made with a new green pigment that can be picked up by plant sensors and will be recycled alongside The Collective’s polypropylene pots,” said Amelia Harvey, co-founder at The Collective.

The Collective’s in-house sustainability team has not only been looking at how to renovate the packaging of its current ranges to improve its recyclability, but sustainability has become an integral part of the innovation, design and NPD process in the business.

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Karolina Kaczmarek Goes to the Final of Aramark Barista Championship

Following Bristol’s Karolina Kaczmarek’s excellent performance at the Western Regional Heats in which she demonstrated a high level of innovation, skill, and incredible attention to detail in creating a truly unique coffee, she is on her way to the finals of the Aramark Barista Championship later this year.

Karolina, who is the Team Leader at the Bristol Aerospace Centre, is a trained barista and has excelled within the catering and hospitality industry to date. Her expertise has secured her a place in the prestigious Aramark Brew School, which celebrates baristas who demonstrate exceptional expertise and skill in creating the perfect beverage.

During the competition, each barista was tasked with making 4 espressos, 4 milk-based drinks and 4 signature drinks. Karolina’s winning signature drink, called “Good Morning Sunshine”, was an innovative interpretation of breakfast cereal in coffee form.

“I thought it would be great to combine the flavours of many people’s favourite breakfast using the sweet milk that is left behind in your cereal bowl,” she said, “so I infused the milk using honey, toasted hazelnuts, peanut butter and malt to create the rich flavour.”

The second place went to Charlie Hall of Brecon Beacons Tearooms in Wales, who wowed the judges with his creation called “Daioni Cymraeg” or “Welsh Goodness”. Served alongside a traditional Welsh cake called Picau Ar Y Maen, Charlie’s coffee used homemade a syrup featuring boiled currants, sultanas, cinnamon, mixed spice, nutmeg and sugar, which are many of the ingredients also used in the cake. Served atop a Welsh flag and alongside a daffodil, it was a patriotic homage to Charlie’s home country.

The creations were judged by a panel of experts accredited by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), who marked each barista’s coffee creations on their level of skill, appearance and taste, as well as the barista’s serving skills. Karolina and Charlie will now represent the Western Region of the UK at the National Finals in London later this year.

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The York Roast Co. Undergoes Refurbishment

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Celebrated for their worldwide marvel the YorkyPudTM Wrap, The York Roast Co. has announced an extensive refurbishment programme for four of its five shops located in York, Shrewsbury, Salisbury and Chester.

Following the success of the re-fit of its York Stonegate location in early 2018, which has since seen a remarkable sales increase of 100%, The York Roast Co. is giving each shop a fresh new look with updated, modern branding and room to dine on-site.

“It’s been a whirlwind year for us at The York Roast Co. since we hit the headlines in September 2017 and the face of our business has changed in that time – we are no longer just a sandwich shop. Following the success of our York Stonegate re-fit, we are rolling out the refurbishment across all sites in a bid to give the brand the refresh it deserves,” commented Wayne Chadwick, Managing Director of The York Roast Co.

Working with Yorkshire-based design agency, Mann Creative, each location will be overhauled with a black exterior featuring a hand gilded and painted display. Keeping in line with the homely feel of the brand, rustic interiors will include bespoke, contemporary wallcovering and panelling, with an oak and ochre colour scheme.

Speaking about the future, Wayne said: “We’re also working on our growth strategy and in addition to our budding events company, are looking for new locations for 2019 and beyond. With this in mind, we always want to remain the same humble, family business we are renowned for being – we certainly do not aspire to become a national chain. Watch this space for more news on that one, though!”

The Shrewsbury location reopened at the end of August after just one week of closure and Chester is set to close at the end of September, reopening in early October. The York Roast Co.’s flagship shop located on Low Petergate in York will close in January 2019 and see the biggest renovation within the group. Salisbury will be the last to take place, in February 2019.

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The Cricketers in Chessington Reopens After Refurbishment

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The Cricketers, a local community pub in the heart of Chessington, has reopened following a £120,000 investment from leading community pub company, Admiral Taverns.

Licensee Diana Cook, who runs the pub alongside partner Tony, first discovered the venue when she worked as a barmaid. One shift was all it took to ensure she never left! After becoming the bar manager in 2016 she decided to take on the pub full time, taking over as licensee in 2017.

“The Cricketers is a well-known pub with locals who have been drinking here for over 30 years. Tony and I are determined to re-establish the pub as a real asset for Chessington and the refurbishment will definitely help support that vision. We have big plans for the pub and want to build on the entertainment currently available, with pool teams, more live music and quiz nights to come,” commented on the reopening of the pub licensee Diana Cook.

The transformational refurbishment will see a complete internal and external overhaul with a view to turning the pub into a family friendly premium location, with a superb offering for the local community. As well as an internal refurbishment, the team have revitalised the beer garden with a smart new seating area ready to make the most of the summer evenings.

The pub opened with a soft launch for friends and family followed by an official party on where local rock band ‘Crash N Burn’ entertained the guests.

“Tony and Diana have a wonderful story at The Cricketers and we’re delighted they have been able to take on the pub full time. The refurbishment has given the pub a real lift and will be a fantastic community asset for the locals. Their vision for the pub should see it become a true centre for the town and we wish Diana and Tony all the best for the future,” said Admiral Taverns’ Business Development Manager, Nick Lawson.

When Tony and Diana took over at The Cricketers the couple were quick to establish a new Cask Ale offering and are looking to increase their range following the refurbishment. They’ve successfully doubled the number of premium lagers available and wines and spirits are to become a much larger part of their offer, with a new house wine list soon to be launched.

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The Five Secrets to Throwing the Perfect Party

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You’re a regular at your friends’ parties, dancing the night away and chatting in the kitchen till the early hours, and now the time has finally come to throw your own. Whatever the occasion, here are the five secrets you need to know to throw the perfect party.

Perfect the guest list

As well as inviting your nearest and dearest, sometimes the best parties you remember are the ones where you’ve met someone new. Depending on your venue size, allow your guests to bring a plus one. If you’re throwing the party in your home, take the opportunity to invite your neighbours. It’s a great way to get to know them and may help reduce the risk of any potential noise complaints. Do make sure that no one gatecrashes your party as this can lead to trouble. A good way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to not post about the event on your public social media profile. Keep the invites private to ensure no riff-raff turn up.

Make sure the music is on point

A badly constructed playlist can be the death of a party. Whether you’re hiring a DJ, getting a live band or just plugging in your phone to a sound system, make sure your tunes fit the party theme. There’s no shame in requesting your cheesy party hits, or the songs you know will get the crowd up and dancing; a good host should know how to anticipate the needs of their guests. So, whether you’re throwing an all-night rager, or a sophisticated cocktail party, construct a playlist that’ll everyone will enjoy.

Declutter and create zones

Whether you’ve hired a venue, throwing a summer bash in your garden or will be dancing in your living room; you’ll need to create a good party space. Firstly, remove anything that’ll get easily broken or is expensive. If you can foresee someone tripping over that chair leg or garden hose, tidy up to ensure you have plenty of room. With a spacious setting, you can create zones. Areas for sitting, for dancing, for chatting etc. This, added with themed decor, can turn a clumsy party into the perfect one.

Add an element of surprise

A party that everyone will remember will have an element of surprise. This could be something like an unexpected game, decorations if it’s a themed party, or a delicious selection of food and drink. If you’re celebrating a special occasion, such as a birthday, graduation or important milestone, present a themed cake for everyone to tuck into and enjoy. The weird and wonderful designs from Anges De Sucre with tiered cakes and cupcakes would certainly wow your guests.

Enjoy yourself

If you’re not enjoying your own party, you’re doing something wrong. If you’re the type of host who likes to make sure everyone else is happy before you can enjoy yourself, then get organised. Help yourself out by making sure the glassware is next to the drinks selection, the cutlery is next to the plates and the food, and that there are bins for rubbish everywhere.
Bulk make food, cocktails and nibbles in advance so you can just retrieve and replace when needed, without spending too much time faffing in the kitchen. A handy tip is to leave playing cards or games lying around so guests can amuse themselves if they want to. The important thing is to get all the planning out the way so you can be the life and soul of the party.

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J2O Glitterberry Is Back and Already Available

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J2O Glitterberry, J2O’s favourite limited-edition flavour, is back and it is in stock right now, allowing operators to add a festive sparkle to their outlets while maximising seasonal sales opportunities such as Bonfire Night, Halloween and Christmas.

Although available for a limited time each year, Glitterberry made a huge impact in the category in 2017, when £9 out of every £10 spent on the flavour was incremental to the category. This emphasises the huge opportunity for operators to offer their customers something different for the festive season.

The launch will be supported by Britvic with a variety of J2O Glitterberry and orange and passionfruit inspired tools available through These include a portfolio-led selection of cocktail recipes and serves, to help operators attract customers looking to treat themselves, as well as those moderating their alcohol consumption.

Moreover, J2O’s brand ambassador, Mojo, a cheeky cockney alpaca, is back again to remind consumers why J2O is at the heart of key social occasions. In the run up to Christmas, Mojo will be back on air with a new, exciting advertising creative compromising of a 10 second Glitterberry edit that will feature on TV nationwide.

“J2O is growing from strength to strength, with an average of  five J2O products being sold every second, so it’s no wonder that customers keep returning, so much so that J2O has the highest loyalty levels in Adult Soft Drinks. We are excited to be on track for another fantastic festive season – especially with nearly £2 in every £5 spent within adult soft drinks on J2O in the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas,” said Russell Goldman, Commercial Director, Foodservice & Licensed at Britvic.

The limited-edition Glitterberry is a delicious blend of grape, cherry and winter spice flavours fused with edible gold glitter to provide an exciting festive drinking experience from the number one Adult Soft Drinks brand in the UK.

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