Blumenthal's call on Companies House fraud

16 February, 2024

Renowned chef Heston Blumenthal is urging for swift action to safeguard restaurants against fraud, following revelations of counterfeit companies registering under existing business names.

Recent entries on the Companies House registry mimic well-known restaurant titles, sparking concern among operators. Several of these fraudulent entities share the same contact details as legitimate establishments, prompting worries that fraudulent activities could be mistakenly attributed to them.

Blumenthal's own enterprise fell victim to this scheme, with a company registered as ‘Dinner By Heston Blumenthall', subtly altering his surname by adding an extra 'l'. Notably, this entity shares an address with his esteemed Dinner by Heston restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in Knightsbridge.

Blumenthal has corresponded with Louise Smyth, Chief Executive and Registrar of Companies House for England and Wales, seeking clarity on the measures being taken to address this issue.

The chef, whose restaurants also include the three-Michelin-Starred Fat Duck and the Michelin-starred Hind's Head in Bray, Berkshire, comented:

"The process for removing fake companies has to be sped up and made easier. We need greater transparency from Companies House and a clear timeline. In some cases, it is being reported it can take up to 18 months to rectify.

Checks by Companies House on the identity of people registering companies would reduce the risk of frauds and be a major help for restaurants and other businesses facing up to problems with fraudsters.

The protection of our brands is absolutely paramount to our customers, our partners and our teams who excel every day in our kitchens and restaurants. We will not allow fraudsters to deceive unsuspecting patrons or partners and risk the legacy which we have collectively built with hard work, dedication, innovation and a grain of eccentricity."

An investigation by Companies House has been initiated following reports of 750 counterfeit firms being registered within a span of six weeks until February 9, 2024. The authority has announced plans to bolster its capabilities to scrutinise and expunge deceptive data from the register starting this spring.

Numerous operators within the industry have disclosed similar occurrences, with impostor listings posing as their establishments. Notable instances include the registration of ‘Elystan Street Limited', sharing correspondence details with Rebecca Mascarenhas and Phil Howard's prestigious Michelin-starred Elystan Street restaurant in London.

Additionally, individuals such as James Walters, owner of Arabica London, and chef Chantelle Nicholson, renowned for the Apricity restaurant in Mayfair, have also been targeted.

A Companies House spokesperson said:

"From this spring, we will have greater powers to query and remove fraudulent information from the companies register and will prioritise cases where addresses have been used without consent.

We plan to do more checks – including on company names – to determine the accuracy of information which is delivered before it is placed on the register.

In the longer term we will be requiring company directors and people who file information to verify their identity to ensure they are who they say they are.

These changes will enable us to crack down on the use of false addresses and other misuse of the register."

Source: The Caterer

Share this article:

Stay connected

Enter your email address to be kept up to date with latest news, company developments and market insights. You can unsubscribe at any time.
View our Privacy Policy.