ANDREW Tinkler, the boss of the FTSE 250 haulage empire Stobart Group, spent a quiet Christmas at his home in Cumbria.
But now he is “raring to go” in 2012, he tells The Capitalist, focusing on the £100m development of the Stobart-owned London Southend Airport, which will turn what was once Britain’s third-busiest airport – and the location for the James Bond film Goldfinger – into a “gateway for the Olympics”.
On 2 April at 6.30am, EasyJet will run the first of its 70 flights a week to nine destinations, with passenger numbers forecast to hit one million by the end of the year, taking the corporate charter service and the flights operated by Aer Arran into account.
The new train station running direct to Liverpool Street, the air traffic control tower and the runway extension to accommodate larger planes are already operational. All that remains is to open the 129-room, £11m Holiday Inn “with a difference” in July.
The twists, says Tinkler, are a rooftop restaurant with views over the runway, and some intriguing-sounding “rather fun facilities”, which will remain undercover until the spring.
“Southend is not known for its hotels,” says Tinkler. Or, as a Stobart spinner put it more diplomatically: “There is an opportunity to enhance the bedstock in the area.” Bedstock? Or Bedgate, when the hoteliers of Essex hear about the affront to their talents…
SO HOW much money will Stobart Group make from the fully operational London Southend Airport?
Predictions by Charles Stanley Securities that the airport will make an operating profit of £800,000 in 2012, rising to £8.1m in 2014, are “not far adrift”, says Tinkler, while EasyJet is “happy with the progress” of advance ticket sales.
The only person without a ticket is Tinkler – a pass for the Olympics, that is, even though he expects to ferry a large number of corporate guests to the event. “I would like to see the dressage and the eventing,” petitions the equiphile.
NICE to see that some good came out of one City professional being turned away from a spa because she had recently been treated for breast cancer.
The emotional phonecall to Abi Wright that ensued inspired the SpaBreaks.com founder to launch Recovery Retreats, designed for clients who are suffering or recovering from cancer. Seven spas around the UK have signed up to provide the service, including Gleneagles in Perthshire and Huntenhull in Wiltshire, the spa in the grounds of the Grade II farmhouse owned by mobile phone entrepreneur Crispin Thomas.
MARGIN CALL, the tale of an investment bank on the brink of collapse, is a tale of desperate people making desperate choices. But don’t let that put you off – The Capitalist has two tickets to give away to the UK premiere on Monday 9 January.
To be among the first to watch the 109 minutes of action on highly leveraged mortgage-backed securities, email the name of the actor who plays the bank’s stressed-out chief executive to firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s either Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons or Demi Moore.