Planet Business: Sherry sales, Sugar investments and ‘dark kitchens’

Your cheat sheet to the richest US celebrities, latest ‘Apprentice’ winner and Mariah’s ex

In numbers: Sherry Christmas

10 million

Number of bottles of sherry sold in the UK in 2015, less than half the 22 million bottles sold in 2005. The Wine and Spirit Trade Association has duly launched a campaign to “Save Santa’s Sherry”.


Percentage of over-65s who drink sherry, according to market researcher Wine Intelligence, compared to just 10 per cent of 25-34-year-olds. They’re too busy drinking gin.



Percentage increase in Sainsbury’s sales of drier fino and manzanilla varieties of the fortified wine, described as “highly fashionable in certain quarters” by this very newspaper.

Image of the week: Sugar rush

Times are sweet for Welsh cake-maker Alana Spencer, winner of the BBC's 2016 series of The Apprentice, who will receive a £250,000 investment from Alan Sugar, or Lord Sugar if you prefer. The facially expressive Spencer – essentially, she made great television – already has a small bakery business she operates out of a commercial kitchen her parents built for her in the back garden because they were fed up of seeing their own kitchen splattered with chocolate. The margins are rather sickly. As she repeatedly said in order to persuade Sugar to invest, products that cost about 18 pence to make will sell for £3, because we all love a good brownie. At this rate, her road to success won't be rocky at all.

The lexicon: Dark kitchens

"Dark stores" are giant supermarkets with no customers clogging up the aisles – they exist merely to serve online orders. "Dark kitchens" are the same, but for takeaway food. Deliveroo, according to the Sunday Telegraph, is on the hunt for 150 sites where it can set up kitchens in which its various restaurant partners – or, more accurately, their chefs – can knock up dishes purely for the takeaway market without having to deal with any pesky on-site customers. It's all part of the company's "Roobox" strategy to scale up its business, so expect to see more underpaid students in teal uniforms cycling along dark streets near you.

Getting to know: James Packer

Casino billionaire James Packer, Australia's fifth richest person, has been generating dual windfalls of business and showbiz headlines of late. The son of media mogul Kerry Packer has shelved plans for a massive new gambling empire in partnership with Hong Kong-based mogul Lawrence Ho, while his acrimonious break-up with singer Mariah Carey – she's keeping the ring – is being raked over by gossip sites. A clampdown on by Chinese authorities that saw 18 Packer employees arrested on suspicion of "gambling crimes" in October, combined with tumbling revenues at casinos in Macau and the scrapping of a planned resort in Las Vegas, has brought his globe-spanning ambitions to a sudden halt. All he must want for Christmas is some good news for a change.

The list: America’s wealthiest celebrities

The wealth-trackers at Forbes magazine have a new list: the richest celebrities in the US. The teachable lesson here is that all of these people have inspired awe and wonder, or simply have the knack of making the masses feel better about their lives.

5. David Copperfield: Magic is still doing the trick for the illusionist, whose estimated wealth is $850 million thanks to his collection of magic artefacts. (Not beans.)

4. Michael Jordan: The retired basketballer's eponymous footwear and clothing brand has ensured his $1.2 billion fortune.

3. Oprah Winfrey: The broadcaster has hugged and empathised her way to about $2.8 billion in the bank.

2. Steven Spielberg: The star director and Dreamworks co-founder is worth $3.7 billion.

1. George Lucas: The Star Wars creator is worth a stellar $4.6 billion after selling Lucasfilm to Disney for $4.1 billion.