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The Fine Wine Business Network invites you to join us in Mayfair on Tuesday 30th April for an evening of networking and fine wines with guest speaker Robin Sheppard – Chairman and co-founder of Bespoke Hotels, which he co-founded in 2000 and now manages over 200 properties, 9,500 hotel rooms, 8,000 employees, and £815 million of assets. A hotelier for over 40 years, Robin began his career with British Transport Hotels. He became a Regional Operations Director with Forte Hotels and in 1986 was Egon Ronay’s “Hotelier of the Year”. In addition to his hotel work, Robin enjoyed a major detour into the world of design and manufacture in 1988 when he created the Tynant Water Company, which continues to ship large quantities of its handsome blue bottles around the world. Ten years after the launch of Tynant, Robin sold his shares and set up Alfresco, an own-label soft-drinks business which he continues to run to this day and produces products for a number of High Street names including Pret a Manger, Caffè Nero, and Leon. Robin’s great business accomplishments are even more remarkable because in December 2004 he was struck by Guillain–Barré syndrome and left completely paralysed from the neck down. It took nearly two years of relentless physiotherapy to regain mobility. He recovered sufficiently to write a book about his experiences called “A Solitary Confinement’, which has sold over 45,000 copies and of which the proceeds are given to GAIN, the UK charity that offers support to sufferers of Guillain–Barré. Come and meet Robin on 30th April and learn about his remarkable career while networking with a glass of fine wine to hand. (Please note that the full address for the event will be sent to guests with confirmed bookings).
The Fine Wine Business Network is pleased to announce that its guest speaker on Wednesday 19th June will be Chantal Coady OBE – founder of Rococo Chocolates. Chantal was born in Tehran and had a globetrotting childhood before moving to London. Her father drowned while swimming alone in the rocky Atlantic waters in the Gambia, where he was working at the time. Urgently needing to bring in money, Chantal started to work in Harrods’ confectionary department. “My time at Harrods was enlightening and I had learnt a lot about selling chocolate” says Chantal, “but I knew there was room for a radically different retail approach: an indulgent, fantastical one, a chocolate paradise.” Armed with a little knowledge, and a dangerous passion for chocolate, she opened the first Rococo shop on the King’s Road in Chelsea at Easter 1983, at the age of 23. On its busiest days Rococo would serve a thousand customers – but it took ten years to break-even. More than three decades, five shops, and five books later (all about the joys of luxury chocolate of course) Chantal is still pioneering the movement for real chocolate. In 2014 Chantal was awarded an OBE in the Queens Birthday Honours “For Services To Chocolate” recognising her long and groundbreaking career. Come and meet Chantal on 19th June and learn about her highly successful career – and what fine wines go best with chocolate...