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Fri 1st May 2020 - Exclusive: Ex-Jamie’s CEO joins TRG as MD of Leisure & Concessions
Exclusive: Ex-Jamie’s CEO joins TRG as MD of Leisure & Concessions: Jon Knight, the ex-chief executive of Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, has joined The Restaurant Group (TRG) in the newly created role of managing director – Leisure & Concessions, Propel has learned. Knight’s appointment follows the departure of Nick Ayerst, who had been with TRG for nearly 14 years, including the last seven as managing director of its successful Concessions arm. A TRG spokesperson told Propel: “TRG has taken the decision to combine the operations of the Leisure division and the Concessions operations under the leadership of Mark Chambers. Jon Knight is reporting to Mark and is responsible for the day to day operations of the units across the newly combined Leisure and Concessions operations. Nick Ayerst left the business two weeks ago and TRG thanks him sincerely for his very considerable contributions over 14 years at the company.” Knight left Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, the operator of Jamie’s Italian, last May after being chief executive for the past two and a half years. It was thought Knight may have reverted to his former role of managing director of the high-profile chef’s international restaurants operation, which he had successfully run for a year before moving to chief executive of the entire group. Knight, who was the former chief executive of Al Khayyat Investments’ retail division in Dubai, took over as chief executive at Jamie’s from Simon Blagden and oversaw the company’s CVA at the start of 2018. Despite Knight’s significant efforts the business fell into administration in early 2019 leading to the closure of all UK-based Jamie’s Italian sites apart from three at Gatwick airport, which were subsequently acquired by SSP. Oliver still owns the international restaurant franchise business. Chambers, the ex- managing director of GVC, joined TRG in March as chief executive of its leisure brands. Last month, TRG placed Food & Fuel, its 12-strong London-based pub vehicle, and the 61-strong Chiquito Ltd into administration.

Caffè Nero to reopen eight stores on trial basis for takeaway: Caffè Nero is to reopen eight stores from Monday (4 May) on a trial basis for takeaway. The stores reopening are all in London – Bellevue Road, Wandsworth; Fulham Road, Chelsea; Pinner; Southfields; Teddington; Tooting; Wandsworth Bridge Road; and Wimbledon Village. As part of the trial, Caffè Nero will put in place protocols to ensure its employees and customers remain safe. It will open with a limited menu, offering its coffee and other items such as pastries. All the baristas working in the stores have volunteered to return. All NHS staff will be offered free coffee and hot drinks until the end of May. Gerry Ford, Caffè Nero founder and group chief executive, said: “The priority in reopening these stores is protecting the health and well-being of our people and our customers and supporting the NHS. We have taken clear steps to ensure that is the case, and the people who have volunteered to work in these stores have done so because they want to make a difference in their community and support front line staff.”

Intu – some 40% of rents due have been paid: Shopping centre company Intu has reported it has now received 40% of the rent and service charge for the quarter. It added: “We are now offering monthly rents to the end of 2020 and are in advanced discussions with customers representing a further 28% of the amounts due. The remainder of customers are at various stages of discussions regarding revised payment plans. However, there are a very small number of cases where customers are not currently engaging with us to find a consensual solution – these are large, well-capitalised brands who have the ability to pay but have chosen not to. In these instances we are prepared to take more robust action to enforce the legally binding terms of those leases. Our centres continue to operate on a semi-closed basis with only essential stores remaining open. We have furloughed around 60% of staff in the centres and around 20% at our head office. In addition, the board have agreed to a 20% salary reduction for the next three months and centrally, we have identified around £3 million of cost savings in the short-term. To support our customers, we have continued to reduce service charge costs and are passing these savings on to them.”

Ryanair – we think it will take two years for international plane travel to recover: Ryanair has stated this morning that it believes it will take two years for international travel to return to previous pre-coronavirus levels. It stated: “As a direct result of the unprecedented covid-19 crisis, the grounding of all flights from mid-March until at least July, and the distorted State Aid landscape in Europe, Ryanair now expects the recovery of passenger demand and pricing (to 2019 levels) will take at least two years, until summer 2022 at the earliest. The Ryanair Airlines will shortly notify their trade unions about its restructuring and job loss program, which will commence from July 2020. These plans will be subject to consultation but will affect all Ryanair Airlines, and may result in the loss of up to 3,000 mainly pilot and cabin crew jobs, unpaid leave, and pay cuts of up to 20%, and the closure of a number of aircraft bases across Europe until traffic recovers. Job cuts and pay cuts will also be extended to Head Office and Back Office teams. Group chief executive Michael O’Leary, whose pay was cut by 50% for April and May, has now agreed to extend this 50% pay cut for the remainder of the financial year to March 2021.”

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