Ramsay ends his relationship with in-law who built his empire
Thursday 21 October 2010
Together they turned Gordon Ramsay into a global brand synonymous with the highest cuisine and expletive-strewn kitchens but the fiery 12-year relationship between the chef and the father-in-law who masterminded his business empire has finally gone off the boil.
The Glasgow-born restaurateur and broadcaster announced yesterday that he has parted company with Chris Hutcheson, the father of his wife, Tana, and the man who as chief executive of Ramsay's restaurant group helped to steer the multi-millionaire chef through a number of financial and personal crises
Tana Ramsay, 37, who two years ago swatted aside claims that her husband had pursued a seven-year affair with serial mistress Sarah Symonds, was said to be "distraught" at the split between Ramsay and her father, who has stepped down from his position as head of Gordon Ramsay Holdings (GRH). The split between the men, which according to a source close to Ramsay followed a row, comes after a bumpy 18 months during which part of the chef's burgeoning restaurant chain came perilously close to falling into administration.
Mr Hutcheson, 62, and his son-in-law each had to pump £5m into Gordon Ramsay Holdings International, which ran most of the group's overseas restaurants, after it lost more than £8m in 2008 by rapidly expanding just as the global economy crashed. After selling restaurants in the US and France, the subsidiary was later folded into Ramsay's main company while the chef continued to make about £7m a year from his television contracts in Britain and America.
The chef's very own kitchen nightmare continued last year with the revelation that four of his London restaurants were selling pre-prepared and frozen meals. His company said the food was still being freshly prepared in a central London kitchen before being distributed to the restaurants.
The loss of his father-in-law will be a blow to Ramsay, who had considered Mr Hutcheson to be his business mentor and once described the decision of his wife's father to oversee his financial affairs as his first "real break". Mr Hutcheson, who admitted GRH had been over-confident in its investments abroad, in turn said recently: "I can run the business in Gordon's name. TV is his forte – that's what he likes doing."
In a statement, a spokeswoman for Ramsay said: "We can confirm that Chris Hutcheson has left his position as CEO of Gordon Ramsay Holdings Ltd. He retains an interest in the business as a shareholder. We would like to thank him for all his efforts and support in helping to build and grow GRH over last 12 years. Interim management will be put in place while the search begins for a full-time replacement. It continues to be business as normal for all GRH operations."
The announcement comes shortly after the ending of another of Ramsay's long-standing business relationships. Angela Hartnett, a protégé of the entrepreneurial chef since 1994, this month bought out Ramsay's share in her Michelin-starred restaurant, Murano, in Mayfair.
A source close to Ramsay said the chef and Mr Hutcheson had had a "very fiery" relationship during their 12-year collaboration and that Tana was "understandably upset" at their decision to go their separate ways. It is understood that the strain of resolving GRH's financial difficulties had taken its toll on their friendship.
Mr Hutcheson was credited with a key role in helping the Ramsays deal with claims in the News of the World that he had an affair with Ms Symonds. Ramsay denied there had been any relationship.
The departure of the chef's father-in-law coincides with a revival in Ramsay's financial fortunes. This summer he sold his stake in his television production company for £14m and GRH doubled its profits in the 11 months to the end of August to £4.2m.
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