Hospitality entrepreneur Hugh Osmond has entered into a legal battle after he refused to pay a recruitment firm's fees, claiming it had failed to find an adequate replacement for a senior member of staff placed by the company at one of his hotels who, he alleges, proved to be an alcoholic.
Recruitment company Profile is understood to be suing Osmond after it tried to charge the full recruitment fee having found the member of staff.
Osmond said: "It was clear from the first few days that this staff member liked his drink, but after five weeks and several warnings, it became apparent that it was rather more serious than the odd tipple and Profile was informed that there was a problem.
"Under their contract, Profile were entitled to be given a chance to find a replacement for us without additional charge. However despite weeks of chasing they only sent us two completely unsuitable CVs and were not able to fulfil their own 90-day guarantee to find a replacement."
Osmond used a different agency to find a replacement and paid that agency in full.
But Profile has since claimed that it is owed thousands of pounds in fees.
Osmond has refused to pay, and said: "I don't think I'm alone in baulking at the fact that recruitment agencies can charge huge fees - usually 20-30% of salary - without taking responsibility for the candidates or checking their suitability for the role."
He added: "Profile are claiming that they should have been allowed to find a replacement and that we therefore breached our terms and conditions. But how long were we supposed to continue watching the exodus of staff and customers from our hotel while Profile failed to come up with a suitable candidate?"
Profile has declined to comment on the details of the matter, stating: "This case is a private matter and there is no official comment from Profile."
Osmond, who worked with Luke Johnson to float PizzaExpress in 1993 before founding Punch Taverns in 1997, owns the Great House hotel in Sonning and the Swan at Streatley, both of which are in Berkshire.
He has recently been linked with a possible acquisition of the Strada restaurant group, which is currently owned by Tragus.