Thai Group Regains Control of High-Profile UK Restaurants


A Thai hotel and resort company, Minor International, paid more than 60 million pounds ($79 million) in an auction to regain ownership of the group

 

Two of Britain’s most prominent restaurateurs are to leave the company they founded after they failed to wrest control back from administrators, UK media reported on Friday.

A Thai hotel and resort company, Minor International, which placed Corbin & King into administration in January, paid more than 60 million pounds ($79 million) in an auction to regain ownership of the group.

Chris Corbin and Jeremy King had been partners in business for nearly 40 years. They established some of London’s most famous eateries, such as The Wolseley in Piccadilly, The Delaunay in Aldwych, Brasserie Zédel in Soho and Soutine in St John’s Wood.

But Minor accused King of mismanaging the business and of refusing to place the business on a more sustainable financial footing. It was put into administration, with Knighthead Capital Management taking over its debt.

The accusations were rejected by King, a prominent figure in London’s restaurant scene for the past two decades.

Minor said in a statement that it was “now time to focus on growing the business in the UK and internationally without the involvement of … Corbin and King”.

“We wish them success in their future endeavours and have no doubt that the outstanding Corbin & King team will build upon their legacy, taking it to new heights as we invest significantly in the company’s and our employees’ future growth.”

Separately, Minor, through a subsidiary, said on Thursday it had filed a claim in a Thai court against Marriott International in relation to the JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa (the “JW Marriott Phuket”) which is owned by Minor and operated by the Marriott group.

Minor is claiming more than 570 million baht ($17 million) in damages over its claims that Marriott promoted competing hotels, misappropriating Minor’s confidential proprietary information,  and forcing the JW Marriott Phuket to accept high volumes of low margin business through Marriott’s loyalty programme.

Marriott failed “to manage the JW Marriott Phuket in a manner that properly protects and benefits the owner’s interest, including implementing poor purchasing practices, high staff turnover and making damaging sales and marketing decisions,”  Minor alleges.

 

• George Russell

 

 

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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.