Gordon Ramsay turns up the heat on ex business partner

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is suing former business partner Danny Lavy for hi-jacking his kitchen range - and the knives are out.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013
The foul-mouthed star of Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares has started proceedings through the London high court to prevent Lavy from flogging Gordon Ramsay kitchenware in the US. Lavy’s company, Sensio, currently sells Ramsay’s eponymous range through grocery giant Kmart, and claims that it holds a ‘binding’ contract to the rights.

Of course, nothing is ever simple in the topsy turvy world of merchandise licensing. Back in 2009, Ramsay signed a licensing agreement with Herts-based manufacturer MPL Home, granting the company the rights to make and distribute his range of kitchen products. Then Ramsay became a star in the US through Kitchen Nightmares USA and, to cash in, MPL sub-licensed the rights to distribute some of his branded products to a Canadian firm - Sensio. Now, it seems that Ramsay wants to cut out the middle man. Danny Lavy has other ideas.

The row centres around a so-called ‘letter of intent’, signed by both parties last year, which Lavy claims is equivalent to a binding agreement on the US distribution deal. The case has already been thrown out of the US courts for being out of their jurisdiction, so now Ramsay is seeking restitution on home turf.

But that’s not all. There’s already an ocean of bad blood between Ramsay and Lavy. The pair joined forces to launch Laurier, an exclusive restaurant in Montreal but Ramsay was soon axed from the deal. The details of the spat are hazy, but we do know that Ramsay is suing the restaurant – and Lavy – for £1.7m, while Lavy is counter-suing him for as much as £40m. Oh to be a fly on the wall during those negotiations…

Gordon Ramsay is no stranger to controversy. He was sued by father-in-law Chris Hutcheson, then CEO of Gordon Ramsay Holdings, for £15m back in 2010 after Ramsay sacked him for gross misconduct. He also nearly went bankrupt in 2009 at the start of the financial crisis, after profit from his restaurant portfolio fell from £3m to £400,000.

Ramsay’s still not on firm financial footing. Although reports state that Ramsay earns between £7m - £10m a year from his TV and media deals, Gordon Ramsay Holdings made a £15.4m loss last year. If the high court rules against him in this latest matter, the tv chef could be pushed back towards the financial brink. So, the heat is on for Ramsay– his very own kitchen nightmare.

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