Forte's adopted strategy follows the fashion

For a company that claims to have been thinking seriously of a radical breakup for some months, Forte is remarkably thin on detail about the de-merger of its restaurants chain and other disposals. It seems doubtful the group would ever voluntarily have ceded empire in this way had it not been for Granada's hostile pounds 3.2bn takeover bid. Disposal of the Savoy stake, which by Sir Rocco Forte's own admission is not going to be easy, is a reversal of what Forte has been striving for over many years. While it is true that this particular crusade was a strategy inherited from his father, Lord Forte, it seems hard to believe Sir Rocco would have calling off the 13-year siege without the Granada rocket.

But let's be charitable and assume this is not the panic reaction it appears. Is this the right way forward - and is it enough to see off the Manchester invaders? Little Chef, Happy Eater and Welcome Break would together make an excellent standalone company, but they would probably be worth more in a series of trade sales. Granada itself might be in the queue if it were not bidding for the whole shebang. Indeed, as Granada is quick to point out, the whole concept of this demerger is flawed.

Breaking up is the fashionable thing these days. There are plenty of investment bankers making a good living out of unbundling the deals they set up in the 1980s and before. Fine, when it involves tractors and biscuits, but hotels and catering? Surely these are one and the same business? The demerger strategy might have been a little more believable had it been the up-market hotels that were being groomed for a separate quote.

To demerge the Little Chefs from the Travelodges, many of which are on the same sites, seems commercially a much more contentious approach. Furthermore, it goes against the play Forte itself made of the expansion of Travelodge three years ago.

No, though this might be a step in the right direction, what we know of these plans so far is not going to do the trick. The bid is far from over yet and it would be wrong to think of this as Sir Rocco's last throw of the dice. Forte's defence document - expected to concentrate on trying to reverse the perception that Sir Rocco has been a failure as a chief executive - has yet to be published and it can be reasonably assumed it will add more twists to the tale. A full revaluation of property assets and a profits forecast is even further down the line. Nonetheless, Forte still has an uphill struggle judging by soundings taken among its big shareholders.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

Sheridan Maine: Finance Analyst

Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat