This week’s exclusive Diary includes the latest on the fall out from Paramount’s demise; new roles for Alphabet’s Mark Draper, Gordon Ramsay eyeing bakeries; and Tokyo Industries MD Aaron Mellor’s appreciation of Elton John.
Of paramount importance
News that ex-Paramount chair William Rollason has picked up the Livebait site in Manchester with new company SBG Restaurants only heightens the interest in what will happen to the remaining three Livebaits, four Bertorelis and 17 Brasserie Gerards that remain with administrators Deloitte. Diary understands that a deal for eight of the Brasseries was on the table until three of the sites fell out of bed, while pub operators have joined the usual branded restaurant chain suspects in taking an interest in a number of sites. Whatever happens Diary is pretty sure that the banks will get no where near generating a sum for the sites close to the rumoured c.£35m that Tragus reportedly offered for the whole group last year.
Whole new alphabet
Dairy has been wondering where Mark Draper, former co-founder and owner of the London-based Alphabet Bar group, had ended up. Well one new role is as a director of up-and-coming multiple pub operator Redcomb Pubs. Led by former Mitchells & Butlers executive Dan Shotton, and the four-strong group is hoping to open as many as six pubs in 2012. A quick search later and its seems that this is not the only pub business that Draper is interested in, step forward recently incorporated, Draper Bars Ltd and Red Brick Pubs Ltd. Definitely one to keep an eye on
Cosmo, the Hertfordshire-based, pan-Asian restaurant operator, which currently operates 12 sites across the south of England and Cardiff, found itself in the press over the weekend after staff at its site in Croydon asked parents with young babies to fork out £3 to take them in for a meal. While the group reels from the negative publicity, Diary was interested in a couple of moves the company has made in the trademarks world. The group, which is led by Tom Chan, has recently trademarked both Cosmo Express and Cosmo Banquet, an express format we can understand in a world where everything needs to be quicker, but banquet? Surely it isn’t thinking of opening a larger version of its 800-cover, 22,000sqft site in the aforementioned Croydon!
Gordon goes again
Talking of names, earlier this year Diary highlighted that high-profile chef Gordon Ramsay had bagged the trademark for Fat Cow, with a future steakhouse/BBQ chain mooted to be launched under the moniker. Seems that Ramsay hasn’t stopped there and has now trademarked the name Bad Boy Bakery. We don’t think Greggs will be worried just yet!
No man is an island
They say that no man is an island, but Diary believes the mystery Russian investor who has snapped up the former Jamaican high commission at 50 St James’s, SW1, for more than £70m through advisors Del Bono & Partners could be. It hears that the aforementioned Russian is one Vladamir Zemtov, who reportedly plans to open a club in his new acquisition. Zemtov is also understood to be the owner of the surrounding buildings housing the Wolseley and Caviar House, giving him his very own and very expensively purchased “island” in central London.
Sutcliffe backs action on pubcos
Diary was intrigued to see the name of the latest MP to sign the Parliamentary motion calling for Enterprise Inns shareholders to press for chief executive Ted Tuppen’s resignation, and for the Government to press on with “much needed reform of the pub industry”. Gerry Sutcliffe, licensing minister in the previous Labour Government, has added his name to the Early Day Motion (EDM) from outspoken pubco critic Greg Mulholland MP. Sutcliffe was commonly seen as the minister who’d fight the industry’s corner in Government, at least until the late-in-the-day appointment of pubs minister John Healey. Nine MPs have backed the EDM to date.
Worthy of a pint
JD Wetherspoon will open 50 pubs this calender year, the same number the group launched last year. Diary wondered whether this was a record year for the company, which is now starting to branch out into smaller towns and was hailed as the “Tesco of the pub industry” by one analyst this week. The group’s pr guru Eddie Gershon soon puts us straight: “We once opened 90 pubs in a year.” It was 12 months in which Gershon definitely won his spurs, press releasing all of the new openings, including 22 in one month. So this year has been somewhat of a doddle!
Mellor cool on Elton
Aaron Mellor, MD of Tokyo Industries, has strong views on the plans from PPL, the music royalties collection agency, to increase its Specially Featured Entertainment (SFE) tariff. PPL said it devised the proposed new pricing structure after “substantive, third-party economic research into the value that consumers attribute to music for such events”. Mellor said: “Asking a couple of thousand people in my clubs if they will give you two quid more every time they enter so Sony EMI can give Elton John some more cash, and the survey will come back very differently. I don’t mind some of Elton’s early stuff but I’m not giving him an extra £100k pa per club for it.”