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Tue 18th Aug 2020 - Update: Gordon Ramsay, Samuel Smith’s, Tasty, Compass Group
Gordon Ramsay – I am still planning to add 50 sites in the UK: Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant business made a profit of more than £15 million last year and is still planning to open 50 venues across the UK. The chef is also planning a major expansion into Asia with 200 sites in the next five years. His ambitions to ‘create a billion-dollar dining proposition’ are unaffected by the covid-19 pandemic. Ramsay believes the restaurants will create around 2,000 jobs in the UK including some in head office. “We have big dreams, big plans and a global strategy so ambitious it takes my breath away,” he told The Daily Mail. “We have had to acknowledge and review the impact of the horrendous coronavirus pandemic. We continue to be optimistic and ambitious, knowing it is more important than ever before to invest in our industry, to support suppliers and to create jobs.” At present, Ramsay’s restaurants are concentrated in London. He is expected to look at more openings in other cities such as Manchester and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, as well as further outlets in the capital. Despite the coronavirus, he intends to launch a new ‘Street Burger’ outlet this winter, which will be modelled on his £15 all-you-can-eat Street Pizza brand. A second Hell’s Kitchen is opening in Dubai – the first is in Las Vegas – and a Pub and Grill is scheduled to open in Macau in the autumn. Gordon Ramsay Restaurants, his company, made pre-tax profits of £15.1 million on sales of £54.6 million in the year to the end of August 2019. During that period, he secured a $100 million deal with investor Lion Capital to expand in North America, where he has a Pub and Grill in Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas and steak restaurants in Baltimore and Atlantic City. The restaurant company is now in talks with potential backers in the UK and Asia, including Lion Capital, over funding for the next round of expansion. Ramsay said he is confident he can succeed where others have failed. “I’ve lived and breathed the restaurant business for over 30 years. Fundamentally our focus is, and will always be on the guest and their experience. We have seen the mistakes others have made by not being focused, we do not intend to make the same mistakes,” he said.

Samuel Smith’s goes its own way on track and trace: The Times newspaper has reported that one of the country’s oldest breweries ‘has put itself at odds with less traditional counterparts by refusing to co-operate with the government’s track and trace system in its pubs’. The newspaper reported: “Samuel Smith’s staff said the Yorkshire company, which runs some 200 pubs across the country, had given them no instructions to operate the system; a few were doing so on a voluntary basis. Humphrey Smith, 75, the brewery owner, bans phones, music and swearing from his pubs. The Times visited 15 Samuel Smith’s pubs and found only one, the Yorkshire Grey in Fitzrovia, London, requiring customers to give their phone number and name before they could be served. Three others in London had pads of paper on the bar for those customers who wished to provide details but they were under no obligation to do so.” A spokeswoman for Samuel Smith’s told The Times: “The reasoning behind (not having track and trace) is it’s against GDPR data protection to ask people’s names and addresses and most people would give false names and addresses. Sam Smith’s customers are locals and most mangers know the customers and word would get around if covid was in a pub. People who write down names and addresses wit a pen on paper could also spread the virus. There is also confidentiality – there was a man who followed a pretty woman into a pub and saw her write down her name and phone number and then copied it and bothered her.”

Tasty – restaurants may have to close again if they not reach expected trading levels: Wildwood operator Tasty has reported, in a trading update, that the process of significantly reducing the workforce by more than 30% is substantially complete. The company added: “The phased reopening schedule has continued, principally to take advantage of the government’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme and reduced VAT. The board expects to have up to 48 sites trading in August, which will represent approximately 86% of the estate. Most of the remaining restaurants are not planned to re-open for the foreseeable future and some of the restaurants which are currently open may need to close again should they not reach expected trading levels. The company has experienced a positive level of sales this month to date, temporarily supported by the increase in people staying in the UK this summer, government initiatives and pent up demand following the relaxation of lockdown restrictions since March, however, the board expects future trading to remain challenging. The board remains extremely cautious regarding trading in September and is continuing to explore ways to minimise costs and to strengthen the balance sheet including the possibility of new debt and/or equity capital. Discussions are also continuing with landlords and trade creditors to reduce current and future liabilities.”

Compass Group names Ian Meakins as next chairman: Compass Group has announced the appointment of Ian Meakins as non-executive chairman and a director of the company. He will join the board on 1 September 2020 and will take over as chairman on 1 December 2020 when Paul Walsh steps down from the board. This follows the announcement made on 9 January 2020 that Paul Walsh was to step down as chairman and a director of the company and would not seek re-election at the 2021 AGM. Meakins was previously group chief executive officer of Ferguson (formerly Wolseley), Travelex and Alliance Unichem. He was senior independent director at Centrica and a non-executive director at O2. Ian is non-executive chairman of Rexel SA. John Bason, senior independent director, said: “We are delighted to welcome Ian to the board of Compass. His appointment follows a thorough selection process led by the Nomination Committee of the board. Ian has an outstanding record of value creation and he brings a wealth of experience to Compass.” Paul Walsh, chairman said: “After almost seven years as chairman, with a strong and well-established chief executive in place, it is the right time for me to step down. Ian has deep experience of B2B and B2C companies and is an outstanding choice to succeed me. Compass is a world class business and it has been a privilege to serve as its chairman.”

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