Magic touch in evidence at Business Growth Fund bash

THERE were plenty of familiar faces from Scotland’s corporate community at the Business Growth Fund’s summer drinks reception on Tuesday evening.

Nicola and Maurice Taylor at La Bonne Auberges 40th anniversary party
Nicola and Maurice Taylor at La Bonne Auberges 40th anniversary party

Guests were able to mingle and network amid the splendours of the National Museum of Scotland’s Hawthornden Court and Kingdom of the Scots Gallery.

There appeared to be a distinct sense of optimism among the BGF’s senior staff and investors, particularly towards Scotland. To date, more than £550 million has been invested across the UK, with a hefty £100m pumped into 16 businesses north of the Border.

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Giving a welcoming address, Simon Munro, the fund’s regional director for Scotland, joked that the Edinburgh operation’s recent move to Frederick Street was simply to get a bit closer to the capital’s swankier restaurants.

But the biggest revelation of the night was discovering that BGF chief executive Stephen Welton is a part-time magician and member of the Magic Circle. For some reason, our man felt the need to double check his wallet and watch on the way out.

Revolution not required

HOTELIER and entrepreneur Maurice Taylor was giving away some of the secrets of his success at a 40th anniversary bash for the La Bonne Auberge brasserie at the Holiday Inn in Glasgow’s theatreland.

The grand party for specially invited guests featured entertainment from Can-Can girls, magicians, musicians and a caricaturist.

Now an established institution within the city’s burgeoning restaurant scene, La Bonne Auberge was founded four decades ago by Taylor, who was presented earlier this year with a Lifetime Excellence Award in recognition of his contribution to Scotland’s hospitality sector.

Speaking at the celebratory party, Taylor said: “At 40 years of age, La Bonne Auberge is now well-established and enjoys an enviable reputation. And it is because of that reputation that any changes made to the menu or the décor are always made with our customers in mind. It’s all about keeping loyal to our French and Mediterranean roots, whilst evolving our offering in line with changing tastes and what is freshly available. There is no ‘French Revolution’ here at La Bonne Auberge, but, as tastes change, we have every intention to evolve ourselves in these changes.

“I’m often asked what is the secret of La Bonne Auberge’s success. Well, for me, the secret of a successful restaurant resides in giving the customers what they want.”

Duel celebration at bank

BANK of Scotland was in a celebratory mood on Friday, cheering its 320th birthday. We were presented with many facts about the venerable institution, which these days falls under the auspices of Lloyds Banking Group – itself marking a 250th anniversary.

For example, the first record of the bank providing a loan to a customer appears in the minutes of 13 April 1696. These record that the directors approved a loan of £500 to the Earl of Strathmore, secured by a “pledge of silver plate” to the value of £600.

On 23 August 1826, the last duel in Scotland was fought in Kirkcaldy.

The duellers were David Landale and his bank manager, George Morgan, who was the Bank of Scotland agent for the Fife town. Morgan had challenged Landale to a duel following a long-standing quarrel over Landale’s credit worthiness. When Morgan was killed, Landale stood trial for murder but was acquitted on grounds of self-defence.

More recently, in 1985, before the rise of the net, the bank launched its Home and Office Banking Service (HOBS) which allowed customers to manage their accounts using a television and a telephone line.

Bank of Scotland director Mike Moran states the obvious when he says: “A lot has changed since 1695.”

But, a 320th birthday celebration? We wonder what’s planned for the 321st?