CITY DIARY: Bubbly Whitbread boss Alison Brittain may have talked herself out of a job


CITY DIARY: Bubbly Whitbread boss Alison Brittain may have talked herself out of a job after sensationally flogging Costa Coffee to Coca-Cola

The dastardly Mr Deedes

Whitbread boss Alison Brittain

Whitbread boss Alison Brittain

Whitbread boss Alison Brittain

Bubbly Whitbread boss Alison Brittain may have talked herself out of a job after sensationally flogging Costa Coffee to Coca-Cola. Few expect her to stay on once the £3.9billion ‘demerger’ is complete. Would this mark yet another curse of the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award? Fellow recipients Carolyn McCall, Harriet Green and Katherine Garrett-Cox all left their posts after winning. But with Alison, 53, due to pocket £3.3million from the Costa deal, I doubt she’ll be crying into her Cortado.

Fears an American-owned Costa will ape rivals Starbucks by coining its own cringe-inducing jargon are hardly allayed by a press release from Coke announcing the deal, which reads: ‘The expected acquisition adds a scalable coffee platform with critical know-how and expertise in a fast growing, on-trend category.’ Who composes this drivel?

Remember pug-faced Enron boss Jeff Skilling, whose firm’s spectacular 2001 collapse was one of the biggest bankruptcies in corporate history? After being sentenced to 14 years in jail, he’s out of pokey six months early and roosting in a half-way house in Houston. Skilling, 64, has little to look forward to these days. The younger of his two sons died of a drug overdose while he was inside. Meanwhile, his assets have been liquidised and his £40million fortune seized. Is it possible we’re too lenient over here on corporate crime?

Betfair saw over £73million worth of bets traded during England’s absorbing test match with India over the weekend. An impressive amount for a Test – Betfair say it’s the second-highest traded in the past few years – but mere pocket change compared to the roubles fluttered by punters on the cricket-mad subcontinent. Betfair’s exchange during this year’s Indian Premier League traded over £4bn.

Apropos the cricket, Sky’s interview with England’s congenial coach Paul Farbrace on Sunday forced me to do a double-take. The man’s a ringer for Sports Direct pantomime villain Mike Ashley. Perhaps famously taciturn Ashley, 53, should hire Farbrace, 51, as a body double for next week’s annual general meeting, which promises to be lively. He’s not attending due to ‘overriding demands for his time’, whatever that means. 

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