Diageo, the world's leading premium drinks business, has partnered with toptable.co.uk, Europe's leading on-line restaurant booking and advisory service. Diageo has taken a significant equity stake in the business, in which Sir Alex Ferguson and chef and restaurateur Gary Rhodes are already shareholders.

"Diageo's investment in toptable.co.uk strengthens its presence in the food and drink on-trade, while marking a significant step in toptable's development," the company said in a statement.

"The deal will combine investment, consumer insight and on-trade expertise from Diageo with toptable.co.uk's online experience, strong competitive position and entrepreneurial culture. It will provide toptable with invaluable expert support and resources to continue the impressive growth achieved over the past three years since launch."

Commenting on the announcement, Don Goulding managing director of Diageo Great Britain says: "We are delighted to have the opportunity of working with such a venture. This partnership supports the Diageo strategy of extending our priority brands, in their most important markets, into new and different occasions through innovation. Diageo Great Britain will be looking to leverage the relationship with toptable to further support its brand equity-building programme through the on-premise environment. In particular, we anticipate opportunities for our wine business in the UK."