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All Posts By Sean Marsh

Marston’s Extends Link with Screach

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Leading UK pub chain Martson’s has agreed a three year contract with programmatic broadcast technology company Screach, which will see the latter providing the chain with a bespoke television service deriving from its data-driven digital marketing platform Screach TV. The new deal sees the pair extending their relationship, which has already seen Screach TV implemented onto over 550 screens across 106 Marston’s venues since 2014.

Marston’s TV has been a product of this partnership, and this is a bespoke television channel displaying a range of things such as local advertisements, venue information and live TV from the relevant provider.  In 2015 it was confirmed that Screach had signed a three year deal to provide venues that are subscribed to BT sport with an exclusive service, so the reputation of the business is certainly growing rapidly, with Screach TV already implemented on over 3,500 screens in over 1,500 venues.

“Screach provides so much more than conventional digital signage,” commented Mike McKinn, the Group IT Director at Marston’s. “By enabling us to use screens to display content that is dynamic, interactive and crucially relevant to our customers, such as promotions or local third-party advertising, on a venue-by-venue basis, Screach TV has delivered a direct positive impact. We’ve been working with Screach since 2014, and this new deal is indicative of the impact the technology has made to our business and our plans to expand the footprint of Screach TV in our venues.”

This success just keeps on coming for Screach, who recently appointed brewing and technology expert James Dickson as the new chairman as well as completing a £1.13 million funding round, so this is even more good news for the innovative business. The company continues to take the pub sector by storm, and you can expect to see more and more venues turning to Screach TV in the near future!

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Overseas Investment for UK Food and Drink Hits Three-Year Peak

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It appears that overseas investment into the UK Food and Drink industry has hit a three-year high, according to research conducted by leading business and financial adviser Grant Thornton UK LLP. The results have shown a continued increase once again, but this time the increase has been significant in the sense that 2016 is the highest recorded figures for three years.

The ‘Bitesize Report’ released by Grant Thornton found that a third of deals were from overseas investors last year, whereas in 2014 and 2015 it was 20% and 28% respectively. The amount of Asian investment into the UK was high once again in 2016, with 19% of all overseas investment coming from Asia.

Trefor Griffith, the Head of Food and Beverage at Grant Thornton UK LLP, has commented, “2016 has been a solid year for M&A activity in the food and beverage sector. Despite seeing a fall in both the number and the total disclosed value of deals compared to last year, 2016 is still the second busiest year in terms of activity that we have seen since 2007.

“Given the level of uncertainty in the market this year amidst the EU referendum, which appears to have prompted the slight dip in transactions in the second quarter, this strong result once again displays the robust nature of the sector.”

Griffith also noted that the fall in value of the sterling has presented opportunities for UK food and drink manufacturers, because the price of UK goods is now much more competitive and attractive to many overseas investors. So whether or not this could be a sign of positivity coming from the result of the EU Referendum, we shall have to wait and see.

One thing you can be sure of is more uncertainty, but if studies such as this are displaying positive results, maybe the future is not so dull!

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Ibrahim Mahama Solo Exhibition Coming Soon

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One of the biggest artists to have come out of Ghana over the last few years is heading to the UK, as Ibrahim Mahama is set to embark upon his first UK solo exhibition at White Cube’s Auditorium, when he brings his ‘Fragments’ exhibition in March. Fragments has been exhibited at many high profile galleries around the world, including the Tel Aviv Art Museum and in ‘All the World’s Futures’ at the 56th Venice Biennale.

The exhibition takes its name from the book of the same title, which was published in 1970 and written by Ghanaian author Ayi Kwei Armah. The book looks into the time when Ghana gained independence, and addresses the relationship between individuals and society at a time fuelled with corruption and collapse, so what can we expect from Mahama’s take on it?

Mahama’s exhibition focuses on the theme of decay and collapse, which explores into the concept of capital and production in a similar way to the novel. The Non-Oriental Nkansa (2017) is a monumental sculpture created by the Ghanaian artist, and this consists of stained wooden fragments of shoemaker boxes, which can be viewed at the North Galleries.

This sculpture highlights Mahama’s focus on city life, with The Non-Oriental Nkansa using containers recognised as being those of the shoeshine boys, often seen in the nation’s cities. These city aspects are further explored by the artist within the floor-to-ceiling installation in 9x9x9, with items such as archived documents and municipal maps displaying imprints of civilian information.

It is clear for all to see the passion that Ibrahim Mahama has for his home nation of Ghana, and this clearly provides the majority of the inspiration for his work. White Cube’s auditorium in Bermondsey will be the host for Mahama’s UK exhibition, which will run from 1st March to 13th April with admission completely free, so get down to see what is on show!

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ABC Cinema – The End of an Era

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It is the end of an era for the UK cinema industry after the last remaining ABC cinema closed its doors in Bournemouth last month, following its final screening of Back to the Future just under 90 years after ABC (Associate British Cinema) began. The cinema in Bournemouth is set to be redeveloped into flats following its closure, but its owners Elstree Studios will continue on with its extensive work in media production.

Elstree Studios formed ABC under the ownership John Maxwell, and the cinemas were a regular feature on most British highstreets when ABC was in its prime, serving a great purpose in the industry for many years. The company was known as ‘The British Hollywood’ at the time and was the biggest producer of feature films here in the UK, so the legacy that has been left behind by ABC cinemas will certainly live on for some time.

“The closure of the last ABC cinema is the end of an era, and perhaps a reminder of the golden era of British Film production,” commented Roger Morris, the Managing Director at Elstree Studios. “However, we celebrate the success of our new Film and TV era for this millennium, with amazing talent, award winning production and new technology reaching a worldwide audience. Elstree Studios has a great past and a great future.”

Roger Morris was the former owner of Teddington Studios up until 2006, and ABC operated TV production sites at Teddington as well as Elstree, so Morris’ involvement within ABC cinemas was very big. Everybody involved with ABC over the years will certainly be sad to see things come to an end, however the future of British cinema is certainly still looking very positive, and we can of course look back very fondly on the era that was ABC.

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Degollado Theater Illuminates

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The monument of culture that is the Degollado Theater in Guadalajara, Mexico, now illuminates at night, thanks to the help of cloud-based connected LED lighting provided by Philips Lighting, a global leader in the lighting industry. The new development on the cultural landmark was completed last month, and gives the building a completely new element which is sure to impress visitors and locals alike.

The Degollado Theater was founded in 1866 and is situated at the heart of Guadalajara’s city centre, playing host to many popular events such as concerts, operas, classical ballet and recitals, as well as plays and performances from established artists both in Mexico and worldwide. The Jalisco Philharmonic Orchestra and the Galas of the International Mariachi & Charreria Encounter are just a couple of the groups that are based here.

Now, the building known for its outstanding architecture and historic & cultural value, has become the first building in Latin America to be equipped with Philips ActiveSite, the latest cloud-based connected lighting management platform which uses only an internet connection to provide stunning lighting around the world.

“We created a concept that respects the heritage and accentuates the splendour of this iconic building which is synonymous with the cultural identity of the city,” commented Hugo Jauregui Gomez, the lighting designer for this project. “Our innovative LED lighting system has successfully transformed an architectural monument into a night time landmark with low energy consumption.”

The lighting system can be monitored, maintained and managed from anywhere in the world thanks to the new system provided by Philips Lighting, with the architectural features of the Degollado Theater now emphasised with the white or multi-coloured lighting at night.

The new developments are expected to boost tourism in Guadalajara, and with the LED lighting increasing safety as well as reducing energy consumption, it certainly brings plenty of positivity!

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International Patron Perfectionist Success for Mike McGinty

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Edinburgh barman Mike McGinty has been named as the winner of the International Patron Perfectionist competition, after competing at the final in Mexico as the UK’s entrant for 2017 last month. McGinty is the General Manager of The Voyage of Buck in Edinburgh, and thanks to his innovative cocktail ‘The Bell of Jalisco’ he managed to fight off strong competition to get his hands on the inaugural title!

The Bell of Jalisco combines the tastes of Patron Reposado and chamomile vermouth, along with a yellow bell pepper shrub in a cocktail dedicated to the hard work that farmers and distillers involved in the production of tequila have been putting in for some time. Mike McGinty was selected as the UK’s finalist for the global competition back in November, and he beat the likes of Melbourne’s Nick Cozens, Lille’s Brice Martaud and Buenos Aires’ contestant Fernando Fastuca to claim the main prize.

Mike McGinty commented following last month’s victory, “It’s still rather surreal. To be here in Jalisco, Mexico where Patron originates, it’s very humbling. I’ve been competing with some world class bartenders and it’s testament to the talent back home that I’m here. Not just in the UK, but in Scotland particularly, we’re definitely making our mark in the global industry. I’m really pleased to be here representing that, representing Edinburgh, and to have my efforts recognised with this title is just amazing.”

This is the first year that the International Patron Perfectionist competition has been open on a global scale, and therefore it is a monumental achievement for a UK-based competitor to win on the first time of asking. If you want to try out any of McGinty’s highly reputed cocktails, such as the non-competitive version of the winning cocktail ‘Yellow Pepper Sour’, then they are available at The Voyage of Buck on William Street in Scotland’s capital!

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Kingfisher Named Best Fish and Chip Shop

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The results are in for Seafish’s 2017 National Fish and Chip Awards, and it is a massive congratulations to Plymouth-based Kingfisher Fish and Chips, as it has scooped up the main prize after being named the Independent Takeaway Fish and Chip Shop of the Year! Following a gruelling multi-stage judging process that spanned across the course of seven months, Kingfisher came out on top, so what made this fish and chip shop stand out from the crowd?

The 2017 National Fish and Chip Awards are often referred to as the ‘Oscars’ of the fish frying industry, and representatives from Plympton’s successful fish and chip shop were on hand to pick up the accolade during the awards ceremony at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel in London. Kingfisher had to pass plenty of mystery shopper assessments on its way to the top spot, as well as detailed audits from industry experts who looked into everything from responsible sourcing policies to menu diversification.

Shop owners Nikki Mutton and Craig Maw commented on their award win, “We’ve only owned the shop for four years and have already achieved some amazing things; we have the world’s most sustainable seafood menu, are one of only two fish and chip businesses in the UK to have a 3 star rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association, along with over 25 industry and non-industry awards, but I have to admit that winning this award is the pinnacle of our careers.”

Taking sustainability to the next level is something that Kingfisher has been working towards and successfully executing for a number of years now, and this award win is fitting recognition for all of the hard work that has been put in by the staff.

Kingfisher’s success is likely to only continue in the coming years, and the team are sure to build on this and aim for more even more accolades in the future!

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Do Easy-to-Read Food Labels Increase Purchases?

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The way that various different food and drink companies brand and package their products has grown in importance over the years, with many businesses trying to outdo one another when it comes to a product’s aesthetics and design. However, recent studies have suggested that one of the most important factors in increasing consumer purchases on a product is how easy-to-read the label is, so what are the implications of this?

Research into the psychology of food labelling conducted by Caroline Werle, an Associate Professor at Grenoble Ecole de Management, has found that the simple, easy-to-read food labels are the ones that increase the likelihood of consumers thinking that they will enjoy the product and therefore trigger a purchase. This could be because the food purchasing experience is made a whole lot more pleasurable if a label is easy to process, and the product therefore becomes more appealing to the consumer.

The research was carried out over two experiments which brought together a total of 584 participants, and the products in the study were both healthy and unhealthy, with either easy-to-read or difficult-to-read food labels. The results showed that the consumers were much more willing to purchase food with an easy-to-read label, regardless of whether the food was healthy or unhealthy.

The results of this study open our eyes to what people want to see in regards to purchasing food products, however the downside is that in the case of unhealthy products, to make somebody believe that they will enjoy it is easy through simplifying the label. Should a healthy product have a detailed label which takes more effort to read, it would appear that the consumer would avoid this in favour of an easy-to-read unhealthy product.

One way to solve this problem could be the standardisation of all food labelling, which could be the way forward, but whether we will see action taken based on the results of this study we shall have to wait and see.

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Budweiser Release Controversial Superbowl Advert

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The Superbowl is one of the most watched global sporting events that takes place in the world today, and each year companies battle it out for a desirable advertising spot during the commercial breaks in the game. The most recent addition has come in the shape of beverage giant Budweiser’s pre-released 2017 advert, which has caused a bit of a stir on the internet.

The Budweiser advert addresses the topic of immigration, with a storyline based around Adolphus Busch, the founder of the major brand, with a look into what it would have been like around the time of Busch entering the USA in 1857. However, with the current turbulence and controversy surrounding Donald Trump and his laws on immigration, has Budweiser chosen the wrong time to release this?

It provides a stark contrast to previous Budweiser adverts which have tended to be light hearted and of comic value, and it comes as no surprise that many people online have voiced their discontent at the company’s topic choice, so what have representatives from the brand said on the matter?

“We created the Budweiser commercial to highlight the ambition of our founder, Adolphus Busch, and his unrelenting pursuit of the American dream,” commented Vice President of Marketing at Anheuser-Busch InBev, Marcel Marcondes. “This is a story about our heritage and the uncompromising commitment that goes into brewing our beer. It’s an idea we’ve been developing along with our creative agency for nearly a year.”

‘Born the Hard Way’ is the title that has been given to this year’s one minute advert, and it appears that despite the controversy surrounding the ad it will still be featuring in Sunday’s Superbowl. So is it a disaster waiting to happen or will there be no drama as a result of its airing? We shall have to wait and see.

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UK Festival Line-Ups Released

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Yes, it is that time of year again when the various different festivals based in the UK begin to announce their line ups in a bid to out-do one another and sell as many tickets as possible, making the excitement for summer 2017 amongst UK festival-goers grow by the minute.

The UK festival scene has grown both in size and popularity over the years as they have gradually became a staple component of many people’s Summer, and with more festivals than ever before available to choose from in 2017, which is going to be the best suited for you?

The UK’s largest and most popular festival is of course Glastonbury, and this seems to be the only festival that can sell out immediately without even releasing its line-up, which is expected in the full at some point in the next  few months. One act we do know will be gracing Worthy Farm this year however is English rock band Radiohead, who have been confirmed as headliners on the Pyramid Stage in 2017.

The Oxfordshire rockers will also be making a headline appearance at the brand new Glaswegian festival ‘TRNSMT’, which many people are seeing as the replacement for T in the Park after it was confirmed not to be taking place this year. Radiohead join an impressive line-up for TRNSMT, which includes Biffy Clyro, Kasabian, Catfish and the Bottlemen and The 1975 amongst many more acts.

Elsewhere, we have been treated to a large portion of 2017’s Reading and Leeds line-up, which includes Kasabian once again, along with Muse, Korn, Bastille and Two Door Cinema Club amongst others. Smaller festivals such as Kendal Calling and Parklife have also revealed their line-ups in full, and with others such as Ynot Festival and Glastonbury in the pipeline, it will soon be time for festival-goers to make their final decision and book!

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