Former Observer owner dies

Robert Breare

Robert Breare

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AN entrepreneur who once owned the Observer and sister titles has died, aged 60.

Robert Breare formed a company called Senews which bought the newspaper, together with the Sussex Express and County Herald from Westminster Press back in the 1980s.

He was found dead at his home in Ascot, Berkshire by his ex-wife Susie on Friday, July 12.

Mr Breare took over from his father as head of Ackrill Newspapers, which published the Harrogate Advertiser and Ripon Gazette. After his father retired, the businessman sold the firm to United News & Media, owners of the Yorkshire Post, for £5 million.

He invested the sale proceeds by forming Senews.

The Observer and sister newspapers were eventually sold on for £18 million to Emap before ultimately being bought by Johnston Press.

Outside of newspapers, Mr Breare joined Parkdale as chief executive in 1987, amassing a portfolio of hotels, golf courses and country clubs. In 1989 he agreed a takeover of Parkdale by Pavilion Leisure and in 1990 formed Arcadian.

Later he co-founded the Malmaison hotel chain and went into partnership with Sir Terence Conran developing the Great Eastern Hotel at Liverpool Street station.

In 2000 Mr Breare founded Noble House Leisure. The following year he was brought in to run the Scotsman Hotels group by its owners.

Russell Claughton, former Observer editor, described him as ‘the last of the press buccaneers’.

He added: “He burst into the staid Observer like a whirlwind. A big man with an even bigger voice, he raced around in a red Ferrari, partied like Oliver Reed on speed, phoned senior managers with ideas in the middle of the night, and spent money with an abandon everyone thought had died with the first Lord Beaverbrook.

“He was the most exciting and exhausting proprietor I ever worked for, and that including the younger Max Beaverbrook.”