Week of Feb. 22, 2010



Economic Indicators Support Stronger Foodservice Sales Growth – CRFA
“The latest economic indicators already point to a better year ahead,” reports Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association economist, Chris Elliott. “Adjusted for menu inflation of 2.4 per cent, real foodservice sales will grow by 0.5 per cent, compared to an estimated 4.5 per cent decline in 2009,” he said, with all regions showing improved foodservice sales growth in 2010 compared to 2009. Led by Western Canada, with a 3.1 per cent increase in sales this year, Central Canada is expected to grow sales by 2.9 per cent and Atlantic Canada should experience 2.3 per cent growth. Positive economic indicators cited by Elliott include: the Conference Board of Canada’s consumer confidence index, which reached a 23-month high in January; the fact that 130,000 jobs have been created in Canada in the past six months; news that retail sales increased in five of the past six months, while slowly returning to pre-recession levels; and the U.S. stats, which show a strong 5.7 per cent annualized increase in the fourth quarter of 2009, representing the strongest quarterly expansion since 2003.

Thompson Hotels to Open 102-Room Property in Toronto
New York-based luxury-hotels operator Thompson Hotels will open its first international property, the 102-room Thompson Toronto, in May, at 550 Wellington Street West. The 16-floor property will offer 30,000 square feet of dining and event space, including a signature restaurant, operated by New York-based Scarpetta with chef, Scott Conant. Totalling 110,000 square feet of hotel and amenity space, the property includes an adjacent 336-unit condominium project. This represents the first time that the U.S.-based hotel management company has been linked to a multi-use property.
Thompson Toronto is a partnership among Toronto-based companies Freed Developments, Global Edge Investments (GEI) and Time Equities, Inc. Principal Peter Freed of Freed Developments developed the overall property. Tony Cohen, principal of GEI and the Thompson Hotel group were then brought onboard to develop, operate and manage the hotel under the Thompson banner. Thompson Hotels has nine locations in the U.S. including the famous 60 Thompson in New York and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles. Jason Pomeranc, co-owner of Thompson Hotels, commented, “Toronto shares many of the same attributes as our most successful markets and the development Tony and Peter brought to us fit Thompson perfectly. The decision to come onboard was simple.” Thompson Hotels is a partnership among Larry, Michael and Jason Pomeranc and Stephen Brandman.

Amalgamation Creates New Prime Restaurants Inc.
Mississauga, Ont.-based Prime Restaurants of Canada Inc. (PRC), Prime Restaurant Holdings Inc. (PRC’s sole shareholder) and PRC Trademarks Inc. have agreed to reverse the 2002 formation of Prime Restaurants Royalty Income Fund. A new, publicly traded corporation is being formed, which will be named Prime Restaurants Inc. Chairman of the Fund Steven Sharpe commented, “The proposed combination will result in a corporate structure that provides enhanced accountability to investors and a more direct correlation between the performance of the operating business and the results and prospects of the public company.”    
PRC is also implementing a restructuring plan to improve operations and financial results, including: reductions to office overhead and expenses; centralizing brand management and key support services for all brands, resulting in a unified operating methodology and processes; and the introduction of key internal and external operating metrics, focusing on restaurant audits, mystery shoppers and web-based guest feedback.

Keg Restaurants’ 2009 Sales Up
Vancouver’s Keg Restaurants Ltd. is reporting that sales increased by 3.4 per cent for the 53-week period ended Jan. 3, 2010, to $473.1 million compared to $457.4 million for the 52-week period ended Dec. 28, 2008, which is an increase of $15.7 million. Same-store sales for the year decreased by 1.2 per cent in Canada and 10.6 per cent in the U.S. Sales for the 14-week period ended Jan. 3, 2010, increased 8.6 per cent to $126.9 million, compared to $116.8 for the 13 weeks ended Dec. 28, 2008, an increase of $10.1 million. “We remain very pleased with our sales performance, particularly considering the difficult economic conditions of the past year,” said David Aisenstat, president and CEO of The Keg. “Close to 90 per cent of our sales are in Canada, and that part of our business has experienced very little negative impact. In the United States, we have felt more downward pressure but are satisfied that our position, relative to our competitors, remains favourable.”

Foreign Travel to Canada Edged Up in December
Foreign travel to Canada increased 0.9 per cent between November and December 2009 to two million trips. According to Statistics Canada, the increase is attributed to a jump in overnight trips by American residents. Here’s a quick look at some of the numbers: overnight plane travel rose by 2.4 per cent; overnight car trips were up 0.9 per cent, while same-day car trips nudged up 0.2 per cent. Overseas residents made 343,000 trips to Canada in December, an increase of 0.2 per cent over November. Trips by residents of China rose 10.3 per cent and those from Indian residents rose 24.8 per cent. Travel to Canada from the U.S. declined 9.2 per cent in 2009 with same-day car travel decreasing 13.9 per cent. Travel from other countries was down 12.5 per cent in 2009.

Casey’s Grill • Bar Celebrates 30th Anniversary
Casey’s Grill • Bar is celebrating its 30th anniversary at its 34 locations in Ontario and Quebec with a special new menu. Founded in Sudbury, Ont., in 1980, Casey’s is now part of the 160 restaurants operated nationally by Mississauga, Ont.-based Prime Restaurants of Canada Inc. Other restaurant under the Prime banner include; Pat & Mario’s (Est. 1982), East Side Mario’s (Est. 1987), Prime Pubs (Est. 1996), the Bier Markt (Est. 1998) and Prime Pubs of America (Est. 2006). Casey’s 30th Birthday Menu, available until March 28, features some of its most popular items at reduced prices. Included are Casey’s classic ribs, wings, burgers and spinach and artichoke dip, for between $2 and $6 off per item. “Despite ever-changing fads in casual dining, Casey’s has remained true to its guests by offering fresh, home-cooked inspired menu items at great prices, along with a range of international-inspired cuisine,” said Nick Perpick, co-founder of Casey’s, in a company press release. “This has definitely been a recipe for success for us over the last 30 years, and we look forward to continuing to be the casual-dining destination of Canadian families for years to come.” The special menu also includes an original recipe of Perpick’s mother — the Apple Mary dessert — as well as 18-ounce domestic draught beer served in a retro, roadhouse-style mug.

$100 M Sparkling Hill Resort to Open in Vernon, B.C.
The newly built, $100-million Sparkling Hill Resort and Wellness Hotel will be opening in April in Vernon, B.C. “Reservations for wellness getaways are coming in daily for our world-class wellness destination — many directly from our website’s Maestro ResWave online booking engine,” said Janey Reilly, director of Business Development for the 152-room resort, as reported in PRWeb. The Canadian-designed booking engine is provided by Northwind – Maestro PMS, based in Markham, Ont. The four-season European-inspired destination resort features a 40,000-square-foot Whole Body Wellness Spa, featuring thousands of Swarovski Crystals embedded in ceilings, walls, tiles, fireplaces and an indoor waterfall. The spa features North America’s only Cryotherapy Cold Sauna (which drops down to -110°C), a popular European treatment that’s considered beneficial for a variety of medical conditions. Sparkling Hill Resort will offer more than 100 treatments designed to refresh and rejuvenate the body, including hot-stone massage, moor mud wraps, reflexology, aromatherapy and a complete aesthetics program. The championship Predator Ridge Golf Course is also accessible to the resort, as well as to the Silver Star and Big White ski resorts. For information, click here.

Sofina Foods to Acquire Lilydale in $130M-Deal
Markham, Ont.-based Sofina Foods Inc. — a private label and custom processor of food products for foodservice and food retail — will be acquiring Edmonton-based Lilydale Inc., which will become a wholly owned subsidiary. The announced $130-million deal will see Lilydale’s shareholders exchange their shares for $10 per share in cash and approximately $5.43 per share in debentures for an aggregate consideration of $75 million. Including the existing debt of Lilydale, which will remain, the value of Lilydale will exceed $130 million. Lilydale’s shareholders will be asked to vote on the arrangement at a shareholder meeting to be held around April 6 and, subject to Lilydale shareholder approval and applicable regulatory approvals, the transaction is expected to close later that month. Lilydale is a nationally recognized consumer food company with leading consumer brands in fresh and frozen poultry, deli, sausage and meat snacks.

U.S. Burger King Locations Switch to Seattle’s Best Coffee
Some 7,250 U.S. Burger King restaurants will begin serving Starbucks-owned Seattle’s Best Coffee by September, accelerating the quick-service premium and specialty coffee wars. Seattle’s Best will replace Burger King’s current BK Joe coffee, which was an upgrade from its former standard coffee launched in 2007. Seattle’s Best has been targeting foodservice partners for the past while, including some 9,000 Subway restaurants as well as 15,000 other locations. On its website, Seattle’s Best lists some of these partners, which include restaurants, college campuses, hotels, airlines and cruise lines, and it reports that “91 per cent of Seattle’s Best Coffee foodservice customers say they’d recommend Seattle’s Best to a friend or business associate looking to serve specialty coffees to their customers.”

Intrawest Auction Rescheduled for Feb. 26
Vancouver-based Intrawest ULC and its owner, New York-based Fortress Investment Group LLC, have been given an extension from creditors on the foreclosure auction scheduled for last week, now set for Feb. 26. The lender, led by New York-based investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., have sought control of Intrawest since it missed a final payment in December on a US$1.4 billion loan. Intrawest ULC owns, among other assets, the Olympic skiing venue Whistler Blackcomb, Mont Tremblant in Quebec and Stratton Mountain in Vermont.
Intrawest has been selling off assets to pay down its debt. Most recently, it sold Panorama Mountain Village in British Columbia and Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Florida to raise about US$65 million. Other Intrawest sales included Copper Mountain in Colorado for about US$100 million, Squaw Valley ski resort and The Village at Squaw Valley in California for an undisclosed amount.

CAFP Copper Chef Cooking Challenge, March 15, in Toronto
The fourth annual Copper Chef Cooking Challenge will see five student teams from Ontario colleges and universities exhibit their culinary skills on March 15 at the Delta Chelsea Hotel in Toronto. Sponsored by the Canadian Association of Foodservice Professionals (CAFP), Toronto Branch, the afternoon and evening event will showcase students from: George Brown College, University of Guelph, Ryerson University, Humber College and Centennial College, partnered with mentors from Delta Hotels, a co-sponsor of the event. A People’s Choice award and dinner will complete the affair. Student bursaries are being provided by sponsors from the Top Management Night Gala Dinner (held Feb. 8), including Aramark Canada Ltd., St. Joseph Content and Kraft Foodservice. In addition, Sir Corp. and New York Fries have also donated toward these awards. For information: Andrea Watson, (416) 441-5268.

U.S. State and CDN Provincial Leaders Meet to Discuss Cross-Border Issues
Canada’s provincial and U.S. state leaders are forging new relationships to strengthen cross-border trade. On Feb. 12, West Coast leaders from British Columbia, California, Oregon and Washington gathered in Vancouver at the inaugural Leaders’ Forum of the Pacific Coast Collaborative. (See the new website) The event included B.C. premier Gordon Campbell, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California; Governor Christine Gregoire of Washington and Secretary of State Kate Brown, representing the state of Oregon, and Governor Ted Kulongoski. Two action plans were signed by the leaders — the Action Plan on Ocean Conservation and Coastal Climate Change Adaptation, which focuses on cooperation on invasive species, reductions in toxins and other pollutants, promoting sustainable fisheries management and research into impacts from climate change and adaptation options.
And, last week, the U.S. National Governors Association also held a historic joint session with the Canadian Premiers’ Council of the Federation in Washington, which turned into a “group hug among the heads of sub-national governments of every political stripe,” according to Robert Benzie of the Toronto Star. There were more than 30 premiers and governors in attendance.

Kaba Ilco Launches Web Store
Montreal-based lock parts and accessories supplier Kaba Ilco Inc. has launched its new web-store, ilcostore.ca/store. The store features a complete selection of keycards, electronic hotel lock parts and accessories for all models of ILCO electronic hotel locks and systems, from the legacy System 700 products to the latest RFID solutions. vice-president of Sales, North America, John Sarrouf, commented, “Ilcostore.com is an integral part of our industry-leading customer-support program and provides another access point for our customers to quickly and conveniently resolve their part’s order needs.”

Aliments ED Foods Now GS1’s ECCnet Compliant
Aliments ED Foods, a supplier of soup bases, soup mixes, seasonings and gravy mixes for the foodservice market, has synchronized its ED Foods’ internal product database to GS1’s ECCnet database. Responding to the challenge of delivering up-to-date standards-compliant product information and increased accuracy, the Montreal-based company reached its data integrity goals in advance of the foodservice industry’s target of Dec. 31, 2010. ED Foods’ general manager Robert Eiser commented, “Data integrity is key to building successful relationships with our partners and will provide additional value. It will help them achieve greater operational efficiencies and drive revenue growth.”


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