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Fri 29th Mar 2019 - Simon Wilkinson named Byron CEO
Simon Wilkinson named Byron CEO: Simon Wilkinson, the former Cafe Rouge managing director and La Tasca chief executive, has been appointed as the new chief executive of Byron, the Three Hills Capital-backed burger chain. He has recently been a chief executive consultant to the Carlyle Group, the investment firm and an advisor to Parkdean Resorts. Wilkinson stepped down from the Casual Dining Group (CDG) early last year. At CDG he had been managing director of Cafe Rouge and Belgo before being appointed as managing director – strategic development for the entire business. Wilkinson, the former Kout Food Group and Paramount Restaurants executive, joined La Tasca in the summer of 2011 and oversaw the turnaround of the 40-strong Spanish tapas chain, which was eventually acquired by CDG for circa £25m in August 2015. Wilkinson replaces Simon Cope, who stepped down as chief executive of Byron late last year. Byron, which operates 53 restaurants across the UK, was acquired in 2018 by Three Hills Capital Partners. Mauro Moretti, managing partner at Three Hills, said: “We are thrilled to have Simon on board for the next chapter of Byron’s story. Byron’s a fantastic brand, still hugely loved by its customers. With Simon joining as chief executive we know we have been very fortunate to have attracted a top-class executive who will lead the excellent Byron team to refurbish the estate later this year and drive the brand forward. And in the coming months we will be making further appointments that will complete the restructure of Byron’s top management team.” Wilkinson said: “I’m delighted to be joining Byron, the original premium burger brand, as its new chief executive. I was in the fortunate position of having a number of options available to me, but Byron ticked all the boxes I was looking for; it’s a great brand, is now well funded and will be investing in restaurant refurbishments and positioning the brand to be the best in what is a rapidly changing market. And in Mauro, the Byron board and the Three Hills Capital Partners team I can see we have super-passionate owners all of whom share the vision of how we will drive Byron forward to future success. I have enjoyed my consultancy time at Parkdean Resorts and would like to personally thank Martin Robinson the chairman for the opportunity.” Earlier this year, Byron received a £10m cash injection from existing investors. The investment came after the chain entered into a company voluntary agreement in 2018 and closed 19 branches. Byron made a pre-tax loss of £55m on sales of £88m for the 12 months to June 2017. In a bid to turnaround the company’s fortunes, Byron introduced price cuts and a revamped menu, as well as the addition of vegan burgers and craft beers to the brand’s offer. The fresh injection of cash also came less than a year after Byron secured £34.5m from Three Hills Capital Partners, which became the controlling shareholder as part of the restructuring. At Byron, Cope led the company through a company voluntary arrangement that saw the closure of circa 20 sites but put the business on a firmer financial footing. As revealed by Propel earlier this month, Cope has joined Bourne Leisure as commercial and marketing director of Butlin’s. Cope, who was previously chief marketing officer of Wagamama and held several senior roles at Mitchells & Butlers, will report into Butlin’s managing director Jon Hendry-Pickup, the former Prezzo chief executive who joined Bourne Leisure last year.

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