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Top tips for hotels to ensure good reception

Example: employ smaller front-of-house staff thus giving your hotel a more spacious vibe. It argues that this is not underhand - “It’s having the open-mindedness to employ staff whose dreams of playing in the NBA were crushed at a young age.” Downsize serving spoons to increase profit margins. The secret is to employ a dinner lady “the size of a Bavarian stable with racquet-sized hands” so when diners complain portions are getting smaller, you can correctly retort, no, it’s the dinner lady who’s getting bigger.

Finally it urges venues to hire a celebrity chef namesake. There are, it says, 49 Gordon Ramsays on the electoral roll, 53 Gary Rhodes and more than 200 James Olivers.

Hoteliers, you really have no excuses now.

JJB in a spin over Swaine

COULD there be even more trouble at JJB Sports?

Last month chief executive Chris Ronnie was suspended after the revelation that he lost control of his 27.5% stake in the retailer after it was seized by administrators of Kaupthing - the failed Icelandic bank that had funded his purchase.

Now it has emerged that Phil Swaine, the associate director of retail operations, has also been suspended. The reason behind his departure remains hazy as does his role - one source close to JJB says he is no more than a middle manager, while others say that he is in effect in charge of the group’s 12,000 retail staff.

Funny how a crisis can so divide opinion.

Meanwhile, JJB’s helicopter diaries continue. You may remember that after Ronnie left, chairman Sir David Jones “demanded” the sale of two helicopters used by the suspended chief executive. Jones, who had made a similar call when he was put in charge of Next in the early 1990s, clearly has form in ridding companies of choppers, and one of them, an Agusta 109, was sold to an unnamed United Arab Emirates buyer for £4m. The other is still on the block - or is it?

Word has reached me that Jones has been spotted scuttling around the country in a helicopter. Surely, Sir David, this could not be? But it is. “If I had to dash to London to see banks, I might use it,” he told me, “but we’re mostly hiring it out to other firms.”

As the deadline for JJB’s reprieve on loan repayments looms, the helicopter may well be on permanent stand-by.

CHARLIE METCALFE, brother of the Pret A Manger founder Julian, has left his role as chief executive of asset manager First State Investments. Speaking from the Eurostar this weekend, Metcalfe told me about his plans - which sadly do not involve him joining Pret. “There are so many hedge funds that are in need of help in some way or other at the moment, and I think I could help,” he said. Rescuing hedge funds doesn’t sound very PC, I said, but Metcalfe, formerly of Hermes and Goldman Sachs, was undeterred. Plus, he added, he knows nothing about making sandwiches.

A NEW game for mobile phones might be just the remedy for the property developer who hasn’t seen a brick for months and can hardly remember what fresh concrete smells like. It’s called Build-a-lot and the objective is to construct estates of houses against the clock. A review of the game said: “You buy up plots of empty land, add buildings and houses, and rent them out or sell them on for a tidy profit.” I wonder whether the sequel will also imitate life - in which case it might be named Foreclose-the-lot.

L’Oréal on Cruz control

L’OREAL may have reported its first quarterly sales slump in 100 years last week, but that has not stopped it seeking the perfect hair colouring at any cost. Just days after the company, which has Penelope Cruz as one of its cover girls, scrapped the dividend and announced that profits were down 27% from the previous year, an ad appeared in the Evening Standard for Garnier (L’Oréal’s hair-colouring arm) offering free professional hair colouring to women over 45. At that price, I suppose, women will agree with L’Oréal’s mantra that it’s worth it.

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