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Rising prices threaten future of healthy school meals – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

19 May 2008 by

Rising prices threaten future of healthy school meals
The spiralling cost of food could jeopardise the future of healthy school meals, warn experts, who say many local authorities are struggling to maintain the dinners (which are subsidised by an average 43p per meal in half the areas) while many parents face being priced out of the market. Adding to the problem is the decline in the number of pupils opting for the meals and the need for caterers to meet new nutritional standards from September. According to School Food Trust, 43% of English councils made a loss on school meals last year, while the Local Authority Caterers AssociationRead the full article in the Mail on Sunday >>

Maybourne plans to add new overseas hotels to portfolio Maybourne chief executive Stephen Alden has revealed that he plans to increase the group's portfolio of luxury hotels, which currently comprises Claridges, The Berkeley and the Connaught. "One or two hotels in Paris, New York, Milan, Moscow and Dubai - a group of hotels with tremendous properties. We are poised to make that step," said the former Starwood executive. Alden also plans to add 40 rooms above Claridge's and an apartment complex to the Berkeley. Next month he opens a new destination restaurant at the Connaught headed by two-Michelin-starred French chef Hélène Darroze, which replaces the restaurant run by Ramsay's protégé Angela Hartnett. - 18 May, Read the full article in the Sunday Times >>

M&B likely to propose alternatives to stake sale
Managed pub operator Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) is expected to tell shareholders this week that it will put plans to sell a stake of up to 29.9% to private equity firms on the back burner. It has been in discussions with Bain Capital, Permira and Blackstone/CVC Capital Partners for the past few weeks but they are understood to be unwilling to proceed until M&B has identified a new acquisition target after talks to buy the Spirit Group from Punch collapsed. M&B, which has said it will reveal the outcome of its strategic review with its interim results on Tuesday, may suggest combining its Hollywood Bowl tenpin bowling chain with Georgica's Tenpin chain to create a 63-venue business. Other options include the sale of Alex, its German restaurant chain, offloading pubs with redevelopment potential, and swapping accommodation inns for larger pubs with Whitbread. However, a large takeover may still be on the table, pleasing the private equity firms, which are believed to be prepared to pay 400p per share, against a current price of 330p. 17 May, - Read the full article in The Times >>

M&B to give Tchenguiz a board position
Mitchells & Butlers plans to appoint property tycoon Robert Tchenguiz or one of his representatives as a board member - possibly as a non-executive director. The announcement, aimed at appeasing investors after the pub group lost £390m in a failed property venture, may be announced on Tuesday alongside the group's interim results. Tchenguiz is M&B's largest shareholder, with a near 27% stake, and is keen to realise the value of the company's £6b property portfolio. M&B chief executive Tim Clarke is expected to announce on Tuesday that he will try to strike a property deal when market conditions improve, by converting the company to a real estate investment trust or by separating the property from the operating business. - 18 May, Read the full article in The Sunday Times >>

Loch Lomond Golf Club and 3663 among UK's greenest companiesLoch Lomond Golf Club is the only leisure company to make it into the top 50 of the Sunday Times Best Green Companies, while wholesaler 3663 First for Foodservice, took the 46th place. The exclusive, wildlife-friendly golf club, which is a 30-mile drive from Glasgow, has maintained three Sites of Special Scientific Interest within its 840 acres through minimised use of pesticides and fertilisers, good drainage systems and good woodland management. 3663 First for Foodservice, which delivers more than £1b-worth of food and equipment to the catering industry each year, clocked in at 46. 3663 gain the ISO 14001 international standard for environmental management in 2003. The group uses a biodiesel mix for fuel (with recycled vegetable oil) in 60% of its fleet, has local sourcing initiatives, and harvests rainwater to wash vehicles and sensor light. It uses electricity rather than diesel for refrigeration systems on board lorries (cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 31%) and is looking to make its food refrigeration systems more eco-friendly by using ammonia. - 18 May, Read the full article in The Sunday Times >>

By Angela Frewin

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