Gordon Ramsay aspires to a life out of the kitchen and on TV- For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

14 December 2009 by
Gordon Ramsay aspires to a life out of the kitchen and on TV- For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

Gordon Ramsay aspires to a life out of the kitchen and on TV
Three-Michelin-starred chef and TV star Gordon Ramsay has hinted that he wants to spend more time on TV and less time in the kitchen. The chef, famous for such programmes as Kitchen Nightmares, The F Word and *Hell's Kitchen*Independent on Sunday. "It's a long-term ambition of his to leave the kitchen behind]." Ramsay's publicist, Phil Hall, confirmed the sentiment: "It's something he talks about, that he'd like to move away from the business at some stage, but he's talking about a few years down the line. He doesn't want to spend his life connected to the business. He wants to do other things - although he's not saying what they are." - 13 December, Read the full article in the Independent on Sunday >>

Andrew Coppel to chair Alternative Hotel Group
Andrew Coppel, the turnaround specialist who rescued the Queens Moat Houses hotel group from near bankruptcy, is set to become non-executive chairman of the Alternative Hotel Group (AHG) after a financial restructure of its £1.5b debt, expected to complete before Christmas. AHG, which is jointly owned by Richard Balfour-Lynn and Lloyds Banking Group, operates 12 De Vere hotels along with the Village Hotels & Leisure Clubs chain. Coppel, who reduced Queens Moat Houses' £1.4b debt to £625m during his 10 years at the company, will help with the strategic development of AHG. - 13 December, Read the full article in the Sunday Times >>
M&B's boardroom battle continues
Pub operator M&B, which is in the throes of a board room bust-up with its largest shareholders, has discovered that two tycoons linked to them have secretly built up a 5% stake in the company. Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, both from the horse-racing world, are close associates of currency trader Joe Lewis (whose Piedmont owns a 23% stake in M&B) and horse-racing magnates JP McManus and John Magnier, who have a 17.6% holding through their Elpida Group. M&B recently sacked their four representatives following a wrangle over who should be the new chairman. The group also asked the Takeover Panel to investigate whether a number of shareholders were working together to take control of the company without making a bid. Analysts believe that Lewis will try and vote a number of directors off the board at the annual general meeting next month, including new chairman Simon Laffin, a move that would require 50% of the votes. - 13 December, Read the full article in the Observer and the Sunday Times >>

Hugh Osmond on lookout for struggling leisure company
Pubs and pizza entrepreneur Hugh Osmond is to set up an investment vehicle, Horizon, to acquire distressed, 'consumer-facing' leisure companies that are struggling with debt. Osmond hopes to raise £500m from a stock market listing of Horizon, expected to be launched in the New Year, that will target firms with an enterprise value of up to £1b that are constrained by their capital and ownership structure. He will offer restructuring funds in exchange for complete control of the company. Osmond built up both the Pizza Express restaurant chain (which he acquired with Luke Johnson for £16m and sold for £279m) and Punch Taverns, which was sold for £900m in 2006. Osmond says he has received a commitment of around £25m from his private equity firm, Sun Capital Partners. - 13 December, Read the full article in the Sunday Times and the Sunday Telegraph >>

Toptable to launch mobile phone apps and expand coverage
Toptable, the restaurant booking website, will launch a number of mobile phone apps in the next few weeks. "They'll make a really big and important change to our business," said co-founder Karen Hanton. "You know what it's like: It's after work, you go to the pub with a group of pals, it's 8 o'clock and people start saying they want to eat something but it has to be something quick, near, cheap, and it will all be there right at your fingertips." The website, which currently features 20,000 restaurants in 14 countries, intends to expand to all aspects of a night out, including bars and taxis. Hanton added that a flotation was a long-term option. The website offers customers a free meal for two after they have booked six meals online and reviewed them, and it charges restaurants £2 per head for each booking. ¬- 12 December, Read the full article in The Times >>
McDonald's launches $1 breakfast in the USA
McDonald's is launching a $1 dollar breakfast in the USA to woo back recession-hit customers after like-for-like sales fell by 0.6% in November. It has extended its Dollar Value menu to five new breakfast items, each costing $1, which include a sausage mcmuffin, a sausage burrito and a hash brown. Although breakfast sales h have grown at McDonald's, research by the NPD Group found that breakfast traffic fell by an average 2% over the summer at fast-food eateries across the USA, where unemployment stands at 10%. The menu will be rolled out across the USA in January when the company benefits from lower meat and dairy prices. There are no plans to extend the Pound Saver menu to breakfasts in the UK. - 12 December, Read the full article in the Daily Telegraph >>
Club Med moving upmarket and into China
Embattled French group Club Med has announced plans to drive the brand upmarket in a bid to attract wealthy tourists to resorts in exclusive sites, offering spas and massages. It will also focus on making China one of its top markets, where it hopes to attract up to 200,000 customers within five years. Its first holiday village in China opens next year with four to follow by 2015, which are likely to include two ski stations and three beach resorts. The group, which reported a loss of €53m (£48m,) in the year to October 2009 (compared with a €1m profit the year before) said it had attracted more clients to its expensive villages than to the cheaper ones for the first time as proof that its strategy was working - 12 December, Read the full article in The Times >>.
Strong Cadbury results aid in fight against Kraft bid
Strong trading figures from Cadbury tomorrow are expected to help the confectioner in its fight against Kraft Food's hostile £10b takeover bid. Cadbury, which also posts its response to Kraft's bid tomorrow, says the US food giant's offer of 725p a share undervalues it and many analysts believe Kraft will need to rise to 850p to be considered. Cadbury is expected to announce a leap in annual pre-tax profit to £700m (up from £559m) on sales of £6b (2008: £5.4b). Workers at Cadbury will launch a Keep Cadbury Independent campaign on Tuesday and the government has warned that it will oppose any foreign buyers who try to asset-strip the company and move jobs from Birmingham. - 13 December 2009, Read the full article in Scotland on Sunday - and the Independent on Sunday>>
By Angela Frewin

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