Sunday News Roundup
Pub companies threaten to sue Government in European courts, A nervous wait for Co-op bondholders as authorities pore over lender's books, Hotel Chocolat in talks with private equity groups about possible sale, Planet Hollywood founder gets taste for UK, Cambridge satchels firm holds China talks, Cambridge Satchel Company is in talks with Zong Qinghou, Mine's a double: Private equity could get twice Â£75m it paid for bottle maker, Ryanair's dream to be grounded: Watchdog poised to order Michael O'Leary to halve carrier's stake in Aer Lingus, Boden tries foreigners for size as label goes for growth, Halfords follows that Mamil, Menzies hotels face sale after Lloyds checks out, Cosmetics duo clean up with big payout
Mail on Sunday
Pub companies have threatened to sue the Government in European courts if it presses ahead with plans to reform the industry. They have warned that plans to force them to loosen their control over pub tenants – known as the beer tie – will destroy jobs and lead to more pub closures. Ted Tuppen, chief executive of Britain’s biggest pub landlord, Enterprise Inns, said the proposals in a consultation document from the Department for Business ‘would be subject to legal challenge’ unless the Government backed down from its current stance.
Bondholders in the Co-operative Bank face an anxious wait over the next four weeks as the Prudential Regulation Authority pores over the mutual lender’s books and assesses the size of its capital shortfall. Analysts say that bondholders could pay a heavy price if the authorities decide to make them part of a rescue of the bank if the Co-op fails to resolve its problems. Co-op yesterday confirmed the report that it has slammed the brakes on lending to new small business customers.
Hotel Chocolat is in talks with private equity groups about a possible sale, valuing the trendy confectioner at up to £100m. PricewaterhouseCoopers was hired by Hotel Chocolat last year, with the company saying it wanted to evaluate unsolicited bids. The plans are thought to have progressed and banking sources say PwC has begun talks with potential buyers.
Robert Earl, the founder of Planet Hollywood, is to roll out two of his US-based hot food businesses across the UK as part of a multi-million-pound investment programme. The British-born entrepreneur who also led the expansion of the Hard Rock Café, is working on plans to transplant his Earl of Sandwich and Buca di Beppo concepts to his home country. Mr Earl, who is a director of and investor in Everton Football Club, is targeting 100-plus sites for his Earl of Sandwich gourmet sandwich chain, from its initial site near St Paul’s Cathedral in the City of London.
China’s richest man, about a deal which would see the British bags sold in one of the world’s fastest-growing retail markets. Julie Deane, who founded Cambridge Satchel Company on her kitchen table four years ago, met the chief executive of drinks and clothing giant, Wahaha, this month to discuss supplying the Chinese company as it embarks on a major retail expansion. Mr Zong suggested the British company could become “one of the best-selling Western brands in China”, Ms Deane said.
The Yorkshire-based firm which makes the bottles for Smirnoff vodka and Grant's whisky could be sold for £150m later this year. Private-equity group Equistone has hired advisers at Rothschild to review options for Allied Glass, which traces its history back to the 1870s, including a possible sale.
Michael O'Leary, the outspoken Ryanair boss who has harboured dreams of owning Aer Lingus, will be told this week to sell around half of the budget airline's stake in Ireland's national flag carrier.
Boden is a very British fashion brand whose fans include David and Samantha Cameron. But now the label, known for its stripy T-shirts and sunny prints, is gearing up to challenge TopShop and Gap for international profile. It already has dedicated websites and catalogues in the US, Germany, France and Austria as well as the UK, and shoppers from more than 50 countries buy the brand through those channels. Over the next 12 months, Boden wants to boost sales with targeted websites, and potentially catalogues, in new territories
With cycling soaring in popularity, the retailer is hunting down middle-aged men in Lycra. But sceptics doubt it will work. Clive Beacon should be worried. Instead, he is wisecracking. The manager of Climb On Bikes, a two-storey cycling superstore in Hereford, could lose out if Halfords, Britain’s biggest bicycle and car parts chain, can get its act together. But Beacon is not holding his breath. They have done a very good job of making us look absolutely brilliant,” he deadpanned. “We have nothing to fear.” Specialists such as Climb On Bikes offer a range of gear, customer service and knowledgable staff that Halfords has been unable — or unwilling — to match. Until now.
The Menzies hotel chain has fallen into administration for the second time in two years after Lloyds Banking Group pulled the plug on efforts to turn round the business. Insolvency experts at KPMG were drafted into Menzies’ parent group, Cordial Hotels, last week. Earlier this year it defaulted on £165m of debt owed to Lloyds. KPMG said Menzies’ 15 hotels would carry on trading. The 1,200 staff are expected to keep their jobs. “It is business as usual with bookings unaffected and no redundancies,” it said. KPMG will conduct a strategic review, meaning Menzies could be put up for sale over the summer.
The husband and wife behind Lush Cosmetics have shared in a £5.8m dividend after sales and profits bounced. Mark and Mo Constantine, who own more than 60% of the company, took the windfall following a 20% rise in sales to £326m in the year to last July. Accounts reveal that Lush opened 144 shops and now has more than 800 in America, Europe and the Far East, although it closed 50 outlets during the year. Among them were 15 loss-making sites in Macy’s, the American department store.
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