Sunday News Roundup
Brewdog’s Equity for Punks scheme has eliminated the need for venture capitalists to help growth, writes Edwin Smith. The founders of Brewdog have – at one time or another – held the record for the world’s strongest beer (the 55pc ABV End of History), driven a tank through the City of London and railed against the “self-important pen-pushers at the [Advertising Standards Authority] in their Burton suits”. It’s no surprise, then, that when it comes to fundraising – and generating £4m for ambitious expansion plans – the independent company has elected to beat a somewhat different path once more.
Greggs new chief executive tells Graham Ruddick about his expansion plans: Roger Whiteside has seen it all in his 35 years in the retail and leisure world – the golden era at Marks & Spencer in the 1990s, the birth and rise of Ocado and financial meltdown at Punch Taverns. Last week, however, he unveiled perhaps his biggest challenge – how to make bakery chain Greggs fit for the cut-throat world of modern food retailing.
Diageo is to offer to invest an initial £15m in small spirits makers in the hope of finding the next Ciroc, its successful high-end vodka brand.The programme is intended to boost Diageo’s investment pipeline as it continues to search for new brands.Ciroc, a vodka targeted initially at the US market, was created from scratch by Diageo and launched in 2003. Innovation has also helped Diageo drive traditional brands, with Johnnie Walker Double Black now sold in more than 100 markets, and the new blackberry & elderflower flavour of Pimm’s selling well in the UK this summer.
Mail on Sunday
The economic recovery powered ahead last month as shoppers returned in force to the high streets and consumer spending jumped again, according to exclusive research compiled for The Mail on Sunday. Figures showed consumer spending rising 4.8 per cent in July compared with the same month last year. The big winners were clothes shops and pubs. The numbers revealed that sales of clothes and groceries were at year highs, while spending in high streets and malls, as opposed to websites, rose at the fastest pace since Christmas. Pubs saw a rise in spending of nearly 11 per cent in July.
Top modelling agencies have been left thousands of pounds out of pocket by the collapse of the Nicole Farhi fashion chain. It left debts of almost £19 million, including £3 million to unsecured creditors such as staff, modelling agencies and the taxman. The chain was put into the hands of administrators at Zolfo Cooper at the beginning of July. The business was eventually bought out of administration by Maxine Hargreaves-Adams, the daughter of Matalan founder John Hargreaves.
The American investment firm that bought Principal Hayley hotels and conference centres is closing in on a deal to buy the rival De Vere Venues for up to £280m. Starwood Capital has long been seen as favourite to buy the conference centre arm of the De Vere hotels group. However, a deal has yet to be agreed and the Americans could be usurped by TDR Capital, a private equity firm best known for once backing Pizza Express. The Sunday Times revealed in February that De Vere had appointed Lazard, the investment bank, to find a buyer for its 30 conference centres, which cater for 700,000 delegates a year.
The boss of John Lewis has called on the coalition to review taxes on high street retailers in a bid to level the playing field with online rivals such as Amazon. Andy Street, managing director of the department store chain, said there should be “a really thoughtful approach to how business rates need to be reformed”. The tax on commercial property raised about £26bn for the Treasury last year but has become controversial amid the decline of Britain’s high streets. Last month Boots, Sainsbury’s and Tesco told a committee of MPs that the system needed to be urgently overhauled. In an interview with The Sunday Times, Street said change was needed before the next calculation of the rates in 2015.
A fund whose investors include Sir Charles Dunstone, the Carphone Warehouse founder, and the Next chief Lord Wolfson has backed the £5m buyout of La Bottega, an upmarket chain of Italian delicatessens. Pembroke, a venture capital trust, has invested alongside a new management team led by Piergiorgio Lo Greco, who will take over as chief executive. Matt Hermer, the Boujis nightclub and Bumpkin restaurants owner, will become non-executive chairman.
Shareholders in Ladbrokes are cranking up the pressure on its chief executive, Richard Glynn, after the bookie blamed hot weather for a slump of almost 50% in profits. Top investors said Glynn had until Ladbrokes’ first- quarter results next April to start showing signs of a turnaround, or face being ousted. Tension has been building since a shock profit warning earlier this year, when the company said it had been hit by poor results at the Cheltenham Festival and a high number of cancelled race meetings.
Royal Bank of Scotland has struck a deal with the chef Marco Pierre White in an attempt to restore the fortunes of seven coaching inns. The small hotels had all fallen into RBS’s global restructuring group — an intensive-care unit for companies with financial difficulties. The bank pieced them together into an informal chain, which is being run by Wheelers of St James’s, White’s restaurant operation.
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