Friday Five: the week's top news

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Friday Five: the week's top news

Related tags: Albert roux, Coronavirus

We round-up some of this week's main hospitality news stories including the sad death of Albert Roux; operators offering up sites as vaccine hubs; and the Chancellor's latest funding package.

- Albert Roux has died​ at the age of 85 having been unwell ‘for a while’. Roux is credited, along with his late brother Michel, with starting London’s culinary revolution with the opening of Le Gavroche in 1967. His son, Michel Roux Jr, said his father’s sheer love of life and passion for making people happy through his food would be greatly missed. He said: “He was a mentor for so many people in the hospitality industry, and a real inspiration to budding chefs, including me.” In the wake of Albert's death the restaurant industry came together to pay tribute​ to the hugely influential chef restaurateur, describing him as 'a true titan' of the UK food scene.

- Hospitality venues across England have once again been banned from selling takeaway alcoholic drinks​ under new national lockdown measures. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the restrictions earlier this week, warning that the weeks ahead 'will be the hardest yet' as he once again told people they must stay at home. The lockdown will last for at least seven weeks and be reviewed during the February half term. Hospitality venues will be able to provide food and non-alcoholic drinks for takeaway, click-and-collect and drivethru, subject to a 11pm curfew. All food and drink, including alcohol, can continue to be provided by delivery. The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has warned that banning hospitality businesses in England from selling takeaway alcoholic drinks during the third national lockdown will be 'a death knell'​ for many.

- Hospitality businesses will receive a one-off grant worth up to £9,000​ as part of a new funding package announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak. The grants, which will be provided on a per-property basis, will be available in addition to the current monthly grants worth up to £3,000 available to closed businesses. Rateable value will determine the level of grant support available, with £4,000 given to businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under; £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000; and £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000. Noticeably, however, there remain glaring gaps in the funding available, with concerns over whether suppliers and the self-employed will be able to access any additional cash. A further £594m is also being made available for Local Authorities and the Devolved Administrations to support firms not eligible for the grants, with businesses encouraged to apply to their Local Authorities.

- Businesses and industry trade bodies alike have committed to helping with the roll out of the Coronavirus vaccine across the country. BrewDog and Loungers have both offered the Government use of their currently closed restaurants and bars as vaccination centres​, with BrewDog CEO James Watt saying he has been in talks with the British and Scottish governments. Trade body UKHospitality has also committed to assisting the vaccine roll-out​. Chief executive Kate Nicholls said the sector can assist and that its members are keen to help in the process. She said: “Our sector is sitting on well-ventilated, Covid-secure spaces such as hotels, conference centres, pubs and restaurants which can be used, and businesses are already coming forward to offer locations to expedite a mass vaccination programme.”

- Lord Sugar is fuelling a landlord-led revolt against a rescue deal for Caffè Nero​. It was reported that the Amstrad founder's private commercial property group, Amsprop Investments, lodged a legal challenge against Caffè Nero’s Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA). Amsprop is one of seven parties objecting to the restructuring as part of a landlord-led revolt against the deal, which was approved by more than 90% of creditors in a vote last month. Under the plans tabled by Caffè Nero’s controlling shareholder and founder Gerry Ford, landlords would forfeit most of their outstanding rent payments. However as part of a separate takeover proposal by EG Group, which was rejected by the coffee chain, landlords were promised full payment of rent arrears. EG founders Mohsin and Zuber Issa are understood to be underwriting the cost of the legal challenge to the CVA. The involvement of Lord Sugar’s group was confirmed by a spokesman for the tycoon.

Check below for more of this week's headlines, or click here​.

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