Sunday papers round up
Wolseley to sell off Bathstore, Health chiefs blast tobacco display ban U-turn, McDonald's forced to remove image of boat from advertising campaign by its owners, Pontin's faces administrators after suffering during downturn, M&B in new phase of pub sell-off plan, Indian millionaire and Dubai Royal Family team up in bid to rescue Pontin's, Supermarkets renege on promise as use of 'plastic poison' bags climbs 5% after a year
Builders' merchant Wolseley has appointed advisers to find a buyer for Britain's largest specialist bathroom retailer, Bathstore. The Observer understands that Catalyst Corporate Finance is handling the sale. Bathstore's founder Patrick Riley, trade buyers and private equity firms are all said to be watching developments closely. Wolseley announced in March that it intended to sell 19 non-core businesses, and has already offloaded tool hire firm Brandon Hire to Rutland Partners. Bathstore, as a consumer business, is considered to be out of step with Wolseley's wholesale focus. Sources familiar with the sale said that they expected Bathstore to be bought by a mid-market private equity firm. While a price tag of £150m has been mentioned, it is expected to sell for between £70m and £90m.
The heads of four of Britain's leading public health bodies have expressed concerns at reports that the government is to water down plans to ban tobacco displays in shops. Health campaigners say the large displays of cigarettes behind shop counters influence young people. But the tobacco lobby has fiercely opposed the ban, saying it will lead to a surge in smuggling and prove costly for small shopkeepers.
With its distinctive colour scheme and elegant masts, the boat resting on the scenic sandflats of the west Cumbrian coast made a beautiful opening shot for a television advert. But the promotion was made for the fast food giant McDonald's, and the owners of the Badger, a 34ft junk-rigged sailing dory moored near their home, were less than happy at their boat being used to promote a restaurant they "have never set foot inside and are not likely to". Now, in a remarkable victory, the retired couple from Cumbria have won their fight to have the advert removed from TV screens and re-edited – minus the boat – at the company's expense. "We didn't see the advert ourselves at first, but lots of people kept saying to us: 'Oh, we saw the Badger on the McDonald's advert.' It was quite irritating, especially as we are not fond of fast food and the Badger has a beautiful galley where we cook everything from scratch. We even make our own bread," said Gloria Parsons, 63, who owns the boat with her husband Alan, 72.
Pontin's, the chain of holiday camps, announced yesterday that it had called in administrators after suffering badly during the economic downturn. Even the trend for "staycation" holidays has failed to improve business at the company. All five Pontin's resorts would continue to trade for the time being, said a spokesman for KPMG, the administrator. Around 850 staff are employed at the camps, in locations including Camber Sands in Sussex and Prestatyn Sands in Wales. Pontin's was founded in 1946 by Fred Pontin. He copied the idea of Bluecoats from rival Billy Butlin, whose own chain of resorts employed Redcoats. At its peak in the 1960s, Pontin's had dozens of camps providing half-board and self-catering chalets and entertainment including knobbly knees competitions and talent nights.
Harvester restaurant and Toby Carvery owner Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) has put 53 pubs on the market in the latest phase of its £500m-plus sell-off programme. M&B is looking to withdraw from the drinks-led market to concentrate on food-centred pubs. John Lovering, the former chairman at retail giant Debenhams, announced this refocus of M&B in March. Sapient Corporate Finance, which acted for Ftse 250 group M&B on the sale, announced in the summer, of 333 "non-core" pubs, has been asked to market the latest batch, which should fetch more than £30m.
Mail on Sunday
Pontin's, the chain of holiday camps which went into administration on Friday, could soon end up in the hands of Indian millionaire Bhanu Choudhrie, securing 850 jobs. Choudhrie, through his family’s investment vehicle C&C Alpha Group, has teamed up with the Dubai Royal Family to look at buying the iconic business for up to £15 million. C&C Alpha Group will hold discussions with administrator KPMG tomorrow. Choudhrie said: ‘We want to keep the management team in place and expand the business.
Supermarkets have been dishing out more plastic carrier bags at the tills, despite promises to cut numbers. The total hit 475million in May this year, a rise of 23million – or 5 per cent – on the same month in 2009. Campaigners believe the rise in single-use bags – shown in a study of major stores by the ¬Government’s waste reduction advisory body, WRAP – is likely to be part of a continuing trend.
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