Bloomberg News

Cameron’s Tories End Conference Champagne Ban, Share in Profit

October 04, 2011

Oct. 4 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party, which banned champagne from its conference venues the past two years, has an incentive to see delegates knock back expensive drinks this year.

The party expects net revenue of 1.85 million pounds ($2.85 million) from this year’s conference in Manchester, northwest England, some of it from alcohol sales, according to two people familiar with the matter, who declined to be identified because the details are private.

Payments come from corporate stands at the conference center and from organizers of fringe events. The party is also getting about 5 percent of the takings from the bar of the Midland, the official conference hotel, the people said. The hotel is the only one inside the security zone set up by police from which the public are banned for the duration of the event.

Since the conference started two days ago, the hotel has been packed every evening, with temporary bars set up in the foyer and drinkers spilling out of the building.

The Tories banned champagne from the same conference venue in Manchester in 2009 and again in Birmingham last year in an effort to avoid pictures at odds with the message of austerity the party was trying to promote. This year, the Midland is offering seven vintages, ranging from Lanson Black Label Brut at 45 pounds a bottle to Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque at 130 pounds a bottle.

“Similar to any conference booked at the hotel, the Midland Hotel pays a commission rate on elements of each booking,” Mike Magrane, general manager of the Midland, run by QHotels Ltd., said in an e-mailed statement. “The Midland do not share profits from the Conservative Party conference or any conference booked at the hotel.”

--Editors: Eddie Buckle, Alan Crawford

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Hutton in Manchester, England, at rhutton1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net.


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