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Gordon Ramsay becomes sole director of GRH – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

13 December 2010 by

A round-up of the weekend's news affecting the hospitality industry. News includes: shareholders want Punch to default on £2.6b securitised loans; Jamie Oliver book breaks fastest-selling non-fiction record; Luminar secures £99m loan and more…

Gordon Ramsay becomes sole director of GRH Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has changed the legal documents for his restaurant empire to make himself sole director following the bitter feud with his father-in-law and former business partner, Chris Hutcheson. As a result, Ramsay now owns 69% of Gordon Ramsay Holdings (GRH). Hutcheson, who is suing Ramsay for £2m for wrongful dismissal, is still fighting to gain full control over Pétrus. Hutcheson has, according to the Sunday Express, paid back the bulk of a £1.5m interest-free loan he took from GRH during the height of its financial difficulties and now owes it £393,238. - 12 December
Read the full article in theSunday Express>>

Shareholders want Punch to default on £2.6b securitised loans Directors at pub company Punch will come under pressure from shareholders this week to default on two securitised loans worth £2.6b in order to reduce its £3b-plus debts. Although Punch managers have identified 1,300 pubs that could be sold to raise cash, investors are losing patience with the group, which lost £160m last year and whose share price has crashed to 66p from £11.50 in January 2007. The loans have been securitised against 5,300 pubs and cost the company about £43m a year. Paul Hickman, analyst at Peel Hunt, said defaulting would be the best remedy for investors, adding: "It is quite clear the bond structure that finances most of the tenancies is unsustainable." Deafulting would leave the 1,300 pubs in the hands of bondholders, leaving Punch with more than 800 profitable pubs and a few hundred tenancies. The group overstretched itself during the credit boom, most notably with its £2.7b acquisition of the Spirit Group. - 12 December
Read the full article in theObserver>>

Jamie Oliver book breaks fastest-selling non-fiction record Jamie Oliver's latest recipe book has become the fastest selling work of non-fiction in Britain, shifting 735,000 copies in just two months - an average of 10,500 a day. The £26 hardback book, Jamie's 30-minute Meals, features 50 ideas for speedy three-course meals that can be prepared in just half an hour and follows the 20-part series recently broadcast on Channel 4. The book has already broken the 10-week sales record previously held by comedian Peter Kay's memoirs, and some are predicting that by Christmas it will have snatched the title of best-selling non-fiction hardback of all time from Delia Smith's How to Cook (Book 1), which has sold more than one million copies since 1998. - 10 December
Read the full article in theDaily Telegraph>>

Luminar secures £99m loan Night club operator Luminar - whose venues include Oceania, Liquid and the Jamhouse - has secured a new, three-year £99m loan from Lloyds TSB, Barclays Capital and the Royal Bank of Scotland. It includes two term loans of £44m and £40m payable over three years and a revolving credit facility of £15m. Luminar will pay interest of 7.8%, plus £8m in fees to exit other finance deals. While analysts welcomed a new agreement that would help the group progress, they found the terms less attractive than expected and said like-for-like sales needed to stabilise to reduce the cost of debt, which includes an additional £4m annual cost relating to swaps. As a result, Numis Secruities has cut its 2012 and 2013 pre-tax profit forecasts by £3m to a loss of £1.5m and a profit of £1.2m respectively. - 10 December
Read the full article in theDaily Telegraph>>

Stornoway black pudding makers seek EU legal protection Four butchers from the Isle of Lewis have launched a bid to get the geographical origin of Stornoway black pudding protected by the European Union. The sausage, made of pig's blood, onions, suet, oatmeal and spices, has been made in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis for centuries to a traditional crafting recipe and the butchers want the traditional dish to win protection against "forgeries" across the globe. "Attaining European PGI status is a priority for our iconic product as it protects the consumer from being misled about the provenance and quality of Stornoway Black Pudding, whilst safeguarding our regional food heritage," said Ian Macleod on behalf of the Stornoway Black Pudding Producers Association. The Scottish Government has published a consultation document on the issue. - 12 December
Read the full article inScotland on Sunday>>

Locals to get new rights to save their pub and post office from closure New powers for groups of residents to take over threatened local assets such as pubs will be outlined in the Localism Bill that will be unveiled in Parliament on Monday (13 December). Under the new community rights measure, any closure or sale would be automatically delayed to give locals time to draw up a business plan and raise the necessary funds. "For too long people have been powerless to intervene when resources like local pubs and post offices - often the heartbeat of communities - disappear from their areas," said local government and communities secretary Eric Pickles. "The community rights measures will put control back where it belongs - with the people at the heart of our villages, towns and cities." - 11 December
Read the full article in theDaily Mail>>

By Angela Frewin

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