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Family rift could cost Ramsay £15m – and Pétrus – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

15 November 2010 by

Family rift could cost Ramsay £15m - and Pétrus
Inside sources believe that the rift between Gordon Ramsay and his father-in-law Chris Hutcheson could cost the Michelin-starred chef up to £15m. Hutcheson, who was sacked as chief executive of Gordon Ramsay Holdings (GRH) three weeks ago, retains a 30% stake in the company, which is now reckoned to be worth £50m. It has also been reported that Hutcheson has taken control of Pétrus in Knightsbridge, which Ramsay and Hutcheson opened as a joint venture outside the main business but which does not list Ramsay as a director or shareholder. Ramsay is said to be taking legal advice on the matter. The family feud also led to the suspension of Hutcheson's son, Adam, who was managing director of GRH, and Adam's son Christopher. Stoking up the war of words, Ramsay further revealed over the weekend that his in-laws had urged his wife Tana to dump him on his 44th birthday - 14 November
Read the full articles in theIndependent on Sundayand theSunday Express>>

Foreign buyers line up to rescue Pontin's from administration
Indian millionaire Bhanu Choudhrie has teamed up with the Dubai royal family with a view to buying the iconic Pontin's holiday camp business, which went into administration on Friday, for up to £15m. Choudhrie looked at the business six months ago when Pontin's chief executive Ian Smith was seeking potential investors. He said that Santander bank, which provided a £46m loan to Pontin's, had pulled the plug after talks with investors collapsed. His family investment vehicle C&C Alpha Group will hold talks with administrator KPMG on Monday. If successful, Choudhrie intends to retain the management team and expand the business. Pontins was founded in 1946 and grew to 30 sites. The five remaining holiday camps - which support 850 jobs - continue to trade normally with no disruption to the 3,000 guests currently on site. Their reputation suffered in the summer from bad publicity over hygiene and poor conditions - 13 and 14 November
Read the full articles in theMail on Sunday, theIndependent, theGuardianand theDaily Telegraph>>

Qatar Holdings in £1b talks to buy Maybourne Hotel Group
Qatar Holdings - the investment arm of the Qatari royal family, which bought Harrods for £1.5b this year - has appointed global real estate adviser DTZ to help it negotiate a £1b takeover of the Maybourne Hotel Group. Its talks with Maybourne - which owns London's Connaught, Berkeley and Claridge's hotels - are believed to be at an early stage. Maybourne is currently seeking to refinance £650m of debt that was handed over to Ireland's National Asset Management Agency. If successful, these negotiations could lead to property adviser Northwood Investors injecting £200m into the company and Deutsche Bank providing £400m of senior debt - 14 November
Read the full story in the Mail on Sunday >>

Fast-food and processed food groups to write Government health policy Campaign groups have criticised Government plans to put fast-food giants, alcohol industry members and processed food suppliers at the centre of writing its policy on tackling obesity, alcohol and diet-related disease, claiming it is an "impossible alliance" rife with clashes of interest. McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, PepsiCo, Kellogg's Unilever, Mars, Diageo, the Wine and Spirit Trading Association and Compass are among the firms invited by health secretary Andrew Lansley to contribute to five ‘responsibility deal' networks, working alongside public interest health and consumer groups. Critics have decried the emphasis on voluntary rather than regulatory approaches and the preponderance of industry players, claiming robust regulation is needed to deal with junk food and alcohol abuse. "This is the equivalent of putting the tobacco industry in charge of smoke-free spaces," commented food campaign group Sustain. "This isn't ‘big society', it's big business." - 14 November
Read the full articles in theMail on Sundayand theObserver>>

M&B to sell 53 more pubs for £30m
Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) has put another 53 pubs up for sale as part of its £500m-plus disposal programme. It expects to make more than £30m from what it calls its ‘franchise portfolio' of tenanted properties that are not part of a recognisable chain; they were described by an industry source as "rather larger, rather nice, rather interesting pubs". The new tranche will be marketed by Sapient Corporate Finance, which sold 333 low-price, late-night M&B bars this summer to TDR Capital for £373m. The sell-off is part of M&B's plan to withdraw from the wet market to focus on food-led pubs that was announced in March by chairman John Lovering - 14 November
Read the full article in the Independent on Sunday >>

Westminster hires food taster at £500 a day
MPs have been criticised for hiring a Commons food taster who will reportedly be paid £500 a day to keep Westminster's restaurants up to scratch. The job has gone to Jon Hewett from hospitality consultancy EP Business Evolution, who will receive a daily rate as an adviser to the Commons administration committee. It is expected that he will work for a few hours a week until early spring 2011. His appointment - slammed by some MPs as ‘ludicrous' - comes amid complaints from MPs that, following a cost-cutting move in the summer, the food in the Commons is now ‘over-priced' and ‘literally uneatable', with some calling for the catering to be privatised - 15 November
Read the full article in the Mail on Sunday >>

Starbucks to open 500 new stores over next year
Starbucks plans to add 500 new outlets to its worldwide chain of 17,000 coffee shops over the next financial year, more than doubling the 223 it opened during its last financial year to 3 October. It will be Starbuck's biggest opening spree since 2008, when it added 1,669 venues to its network. Some 400 of the new stores will be outside the USA, with China a key area of growth. The number of Starbucks stores in China is expected to soar from a current 400 to more than 1,000 in the near future. Annual coffee consumption among the Chinese stands at just 22g per person, compared with 3.3kg in Japan - 13 November
Read the full article in the Independent >>

By Angela Frewin

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