Balls Brothers collapses into administration – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

29 November 2010 by
Balls Brothers collapses into administration – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

Balls Brothers collapses into administration London wine bar and restaurant owner Balls Brothers has collapsed into administration owing debts of £7m to Barclays Bank. Zolfo Cooper - which has been seeking new investors for the company for several months - was appointed administrator late on Friday and is seeking a buyer to rescue the business, which continues to trade. The company, which has 19 restaurants and wine bars employing 332 staff, is well-known for its list of vintage wines and the popularity of its venues among City bankers clinching deals. It was founded 150 years ago as a wine merchant operating off-licences in London and the South-east and began focusing on City wine bars in the 1960s. The group's debts partly stemmed from its £14m acquisition of the more casual Lewis & Clarke bar chain four years ago, which it struggled to integrate. It has also been hit by the decline in long lunches in the City. Balls Brothers made a £224,000 loss in the year to January 2009. - 27 November, Read the full article in the Guardian >>

Heston Blumenthal pudding attracts eBay bids of up to £77 Celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal's orange Christmas pudding has attracted bids of up to £77 on eBay as stocks of the £13.99 pudding containing a candied orange start to run out in Waitrose stores. Blumenthal has been appearing in adverts for the supermarket alongside Delia Smith. The seller, from Bempton in East Yorkshire, is offering to sell the solitary Waitrose Hidden Orange Christmas Pudding anywhere in the UK, with a £6 delivery fee. The auction closes on 5 December. - 28 November, Read the full article in the Sunday Telegraph >>

Turkey tycoon Bernard Matthews dies Turkey tycoon Bernard Matthews, who brought cheap turkey to the masses, died at his home in Norfolk on Thursday at the age of 80. The Norfolk farmer built up a multi-million pound empire from an initial investment of just £2.50 sixty years ago, starting with 20 turkey eggs and a second-hand paraffin incubator. Matthews was well known for his "bootiful" catchphrase on the TV ads he fronted, although the business has more recently faced criticism by animal welfare campaigners and by school meals campaigners for its Turkey Twizzlers. Matthews, who had stepped down from the company's main board of directors on his birthday in January, leaves four children and six grandchildren. - 27 November, Read the full article in the Scotsman and the Daily Express >>

Four Seasons Caribbean resort back on track Plans to build a luxury hotel and villa resort in Barbados have been resurrected after being put on ice in February 2009 when the Bank of Scotland called in the loan financing part of the construction. It took the developers, led by Robin Paterson, 20 months to refinance the project to build a Four Seasons hotel and 34 luxury villas at Black Rock (or Paradise Beach) and two deals fell through. "It's very difficult to find financing for hotels, because you need to put in tens of millions before you even open the doors and start making money," said Paterson. He has succeeded in raising $60m from Trinidad-based ANSA Merchant Bank, with the loan guaranteed by the Barbados government. Mike Pemberton, the man who started the development and who built London's Sanderson hotel, has quit the project and the construction will now be carried out by Davis Langdon, which restarts building work in January. - 28 November, Read the full article in the Sunday Telegraph >>

Ministers to ban cheap alcohol in supermarkets The government plans to tackle binge-drinking by banning loss-leading discount sales of alcohol in supermarkets. The proposals, part of a public health white paper due this week, will prevent supermarkets from selling wine, beer and spirits below a national minimum price based on the combined costs of VAT and duty. Offenders would risk losing their licences. Ministers are also believed to be considering a higher rate of duty for super-strength beers. Separately, Greater Manchester council is planning to introduce a minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol. The public health white paper will also call for dedicated breastfeeding areas to be made available in the workplace for mothers on the staff. - 28 November, Read the full article in the Observer, the Sunday Express, and the Mail on Sunday >>

Casino mogul bids $33,000 for two white truffles A pair of white truffles were auctioned for $330,000 (£210,000) at a charity auction in Macau on Friday. Casino mogul Stanley Ho was the successful bidder at the auction of 16 lots of white truffles from around Italy, which was held at his Grand Lisboa hotel. Ho's lot included a 900g truffle from Tuscany and a 400g truffle found in Molise. He paid the same record price for a 1.5kg white truffle from Tuscany at the same auction three years ago. The auction raised $373,500 for charities in Macau, Britain and Italy. - 28 November, Read the full article in the Observer >>

<span class="Á"noindexÁ"">By Angela Frewin

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