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Sat 29th Aug 2015 - Update: CDG buys La Tasca, Pronto raises £1m
Casual Dining Group buys La Tasca: Casual Dining Group (CDG), operator of Bella Italia, Café Rouge and Las Iguanas, has bought tapas chain La Tasca, led by Simon Wilkinson, for a price of between £20m and £25m from Icelandic bank Kaupthing. The price compares with the £123m that Robert Tchenquiz paid for the estate in 2007 when he outbid Tragus and it operated 70 sites in the UK. This latest acquisition follows the group’s recent purchase of Las Iguanas. It increases CDG’s UK-wide footprint to 280 restaurants, cementing the group’s position as the UK’s leading privately-owned casual dining business. The acquisition comes as CDG sets about delivering its organic growth plan which will see 52 major refurbishments completed on its existing estate within the next six months and 30 new restaurants open within the next 12 months. Beyond this the company has confirmed a very strong pipeline of new restaurant openings driven by, it says, ‘the strong demand it is experiencing from leading landlords, who are keen to secure CDG’s brands on the UK’s leisure parks, shopping and travel hubs and prime high street locations’. Commenting on CDG’s latest acquisition, chief executive Steve Richards said: “We are pleased to have been able to conclude the purchase of La Tasca; the business operates in some excellent locations and this acquisition strengthens our high street portfolio of restaurants.” Simon Wilkinson added: “La Tasca has a strong core of high performing sites and I’m pleased the business has found a good home with CDG. I look forward to helping guide the business through its next stage of development.” La Tasca currently operates 41 sites and has doubled its earnings to £4m under Wilkinson. In July, Casual Dining Group bought Las Iguanas for circa £85m. On the La Tasca deal, CDG was advised by AlixPartners and La Tasca by BDO.

London-based healthy food delivery service start-up Pronto raises £1m to roll out concept across capital: London-based healthy food delivery service start-up Pronto has raised £1m to roll out the concept across the capital. The company, which was launched in June 2014 and is currently based in technology accelerator Mass Challenge UK’s office in London, delivers restaurant quality dishes from chefs to homes or office in an average of 20 minutes. It said its customers, on average, order more than five times a month and believes it is “replacing kitchens as Uber is replacing cars”. The funds will be used to build on its growth so far and to increase user engagement, market penetration, and to add new members to its team. Pronto co-founder and chief executive James Roy Poulter said: “Pronto is building the food infrastructure of the future in a trillion-pound global food market. With intelligent menu design, we are able to move up the supply chain faster, sourcing more intelligently and reducing waste to bring food from the farm to forks faster and therefore fresher.” The seed-funding round was led by technology venture capital company Playfair Capital. Partner Joseph Charlesworth said: “Pronto is a full stack food delivery business. The amount of technology they have built under the hood is impressive and controls everything from food procurement to processing and delivery.”

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