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BHA boss sparks row over "unemployable" Brits – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

14 January 2008

BHA boss sparks row over "unemployable" Brits

Bob Cotton, chief executive of the British Hospitality AssociationThe Mail on Sunday, 13 January

Little Chef sale to be replaced by disposal of 20 sites
The planned sale of roadside restaurant chain Little Chef is likely to be shelved by private equity owner Rcapital in favour of a sale of up to 20 of its 200 sites. The group has been on the market since last summer but has failed to attract buyers willing to take the whole business. Trade is said to have improved at the chain and Rcapital is believed to be happy to continue to own the remainder of the estate. It is understood to have started talks with motorway service station operators Welcome Break and Moto about selling them a number of restaurants. - The Sunday Times, 13 January

IHG share price plunge costs Barclay twins £120m
The collapse in the share price of Holiday Inn owner InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has left the reclusive Ritz hotel owners, Sir David and Frederick Barclay, nursing an estimated £120m paper loss on their 10% stake of 30 million shares. Global economic worries, especially of a recession in Holiday Inn stronghold America, have slashed IHG's share value by almost 50% since last June. The Barclay twins bought a 5% stake a year ago amidst persistent bid speculation and doubled their stake by June, sending the IHG share price to a £14.20 high. On Friday, IHG shares closed up 35½p at 747p, valuing the Barclays stake at £224m - a £120m shortfall on their estimated investment. - The Times, 12 January

Soho Clubs & Bars seeks buyer to expand
Soho Clubs & Bars, the owner of 10 venues in London's West End, has hired advisers to find a buyer that will provide funds for expansion. The group's outlets include the former Raymond Revue Bar and Cheers, the restaurant modelled on the US television sitcom. - The Sunday Times, 13 January

Jamie Oliver's Fifteen serves first UK-grown coffee
The first coffee to be made from UK-grown beans was served on Friday at Jamie Oliver's Fifteen restaurant in Cornwall, which is part of a chain launched to help disadvantaged youngsters. The Eden Coffee - grown in the greenhouse biomees at the Eden Project - was declared acceptable by baristas, coffee experts and trainee chefs. However, Fifteen bar manager Tristan Stephenson said there were some problems. The time it took him to covert the Arabica cherries into coffee would have given a cost of about £20 a cup in terms of man power. Supply is also an issue as the Eden Project has only produced 200g-worth of cherries, which translates into about 150g of beans or 20 cups of coffee. - The Guardian, 12 January

Airline caterer Gate Gourmet faces new strike threat
Airline caterer Gate Gourmet could face another summer of discontent following allegations that its staff at Bristol airport have been unfairly treated. The caterer brought British Airways to a standstill in 2005 when staff staged a strike over the sacking of 670 Gate Gourmet employees. The new threat follows Gate Gourmet's success in winning the contract to supply meals to EasyJet's Bristol operation from Alpha Airports last year, when it was obliged to take on Alpha's existing employees at the airport. However, six who were let go have been fighting the company at an employment tribunal since November. The union Unite has told the company to "mend its ways" or face a repeat of the turmoil at BA. Gate Gourmet said it did not believe the Tupe - Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) - regulations applied in these six cases. - Independent on Sunday, 13 January

Scottish tourism needs private equity investment
Philip Riddle, chief executive of VisitScotland, has urged Scottish hotels and tourist attractions to do more to attract investment from private equity and venture capitalist firms. Speaking ahead of this month's Parliamentary inquiry into tourism, Riddle said such investment was vital if tourism was to meet Government targets to boost revenues by 50% by 2015. Meanwhile, holiday operators targeting travellers under the age of 34 have attacked the Government for neglecting the fast-growing market in Scotland. According to Smart City Hostels, one third of all visitors to Scotland are aged between 16 and 34 and the sector - which is set to outstrip growth in tourism generally - increased by 5% between 2000 and 2004 against general growth of 3%. - Scotlandon Sunday, 13 January

S&N in talks for full takeover of joint Russian venture
Scottish & Newcastle (S&N) has been approached by Anheuser-Busch, the US brewer of Budweiser, and private equity funds Blackstone and Texas Pacific Group about a potential £4.6bn bid for full control of BBH, the top Russian brewer that it owns jointly with Carlsberg. This would allow S&N to take full control of BBH as part of its defence against Carlsberg, which is planning a takeover of S&N with Heineken. S&N would be able to finance a bid for BBH by offering a 25% stake to a minority partner. Last week S&N rejected a revised offer from Carlsberg and Heineken of 780p per share, valuing the company at £7.6m, saying it will not consider bids below 800p. - The Sunday Telegraph, 13 January

By Angela Frewin

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