Heston Blumenthal has reaped a significant financial reward from his growing restaurant empire, after his company paid out a big dividend to its directors for the first time.
SL6, the company which owns the three-Michelin-starred Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, as well as his two pubs and Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in London, released a £750,000 dividend, according to its latest annual accounts.
It is the first time that the company, which also receives the income from the chef's other ventures, including his advertising deal with supermarket Waitrose, has made such a payment.
In an interview with Caterer and Hotelkeeper in 2008, Blumenthal said he now saw the Fat Duck as only part of his empire. "It's the golden egg thing," he said. "The bigger bubble is the other businesses. The Fat Duck enables me to do other things - publishing, TV, consulting - and by allowing those to expand I can allow the Fat Duck to shrink."
According to accounts filed at Companies House, SL6 saw turnover grow by 22% to £10.1m in the 12 months to the end of June 2011 compared with £8.3m the year before. Pre-tax profit fell 17% from £927,424 to £768,566.
"During the period the group continued to trade profitably out of its existing establishments with increases to gross margins arising from more efficient working practices," SL6's directors' report said.
"To support the growth of the group's business, research and development on many recipe and menu aspects continued at the group's experimental kitchen facilities and the advances made will enable the group to remain at the forefront of culinary innovation. As an integral part of this process, the group is currently planning major improvements to the kitchen facilities in two of its principal sites."
By Kerstin Kühn
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