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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Sun 18th Apr 2021 - John Vincent – this is a sad day for me but Leon will flourish under EG Group ownership
John Vincent – this is a sad day for me to part company with Leon but brand will flourish under EG Group ownership: John Vincent, co-founder of natural fast food brand Leon, has said it is a sad day for him to part company with the business but believes it will flourish under the ownership of Euro Garages, the forecourt and roadside operator. EG Group has bought Leon, which operates a network of more than 70 restaurants, in a deal for between £80m and £100m, which was first reported by The Mail on Sunday. Founded by Vincent, Henry Dimbleby and chef Allegra McEvedy in 2004, Leon has 42 company-owned restaurants operated on leasehold locations, with a particularly strong presence in London as well as other large cities across the UK. In addition, it has 29 franchised sites at key strategic transport hubs – mainly airports and train stations – across the UK and five other European markets, principally The Netherlands. Leon has also made itself accessible to consumers at home and generates significant revenue from its branded cookbooks, own brand groceries and provision of home delivery ready meals. Vincent said: “In some ways this is a sad day for me, to part company with the business I founded 17 years ago in Carnaby Street. But I have had the pleasure of getting to know Mohsin and Zuber across the past few years. They have been enthusiastic customers of Leon, going out of their way to eat here whenever they visit London. They are decent, hard-working business people who are committed to sustaining and further strengthening the values and culture that we have built at Leon, a business that has my dad’s name above the door. Mohsin and Zuber will not just be superb custodians of the Leon brand, through EG Group they have the vision, investment appetite, foodservice expertise and network scale to take Leon to many more people and places. This is what Leon has always been built for and I am confident under the new ownership, the brand will flourish and have even greater appeal to a broader customer base, especially outside of London. Thousands of people have been part of creating the Leon experience. Each has left their mark, and I would like to thank everyone inside Leon, our partners and suppliers, and our guests who have visited us about 200 million times so far. We have tried hard, done some good things, made a healthy amount of mistakes, and built a business that quite a few people are kind enough to say that they love.” EG Group said its acquisition of Leon was complementary to its strategy of seeking significant growth in its non-fuel and foodservice operations. Prior to the addition of the Leon store network, EG Group already operates more than 700 foodservice outlets in the UK & Ireland of which 310 operate from standalone premises. Despite the impact of covid-19, EG Group’s foodservice business accounted for 46% of the gross profit of the UK &Ireland division in 2020. EG Group said the acquisition of Leon as a proprietary brand enhances the already extensive foodservice brand portfolio it operates, with this already including third-party brands such as Starbucks, KFC, Burger King, Greggs, Sbarro, Cinnabon and Subway. Following the acquisition, EG Group intends to invest in the Leon brand and broaden the current foodservice offer across the extensive global site network. With plans to open about 20 Leon sites per year from 2022, EG Group said it also sees significant potential for Leon non-restaurant products across its convenience retail proposition. Mohsin and Zuber Issa, co-founders and co-chief executives of EG Group, said: “Leon is a fantastic brand that we have long admired. As established entrepreneurs in the foodservice retail market ourselves, we have a huge admiration for the business that John and the Leon team have built over the years, and firmly believe their culture and values closely align with our own. The acquisition of Leon presents EG Group with a fantastic opportunity to further develop the menu offer, the various concession formats including drive-thrus, and will enable us to significantly build on the existing network by exploring opportunities across our own sites along with other strategic locations. EG Group continues to identify innovative partnerships and acquisitions that complement our existing consumer offer and enable us to stay at the forefront of consumer trends, particularly in foodservice. Our equity investment in Leon is to strengthen our own participation in the fast-growing contemporary foodservice segment. This acquisition aligns with our commitment to being a committed foodservice operator globally, delivers financial benefit to our underlying business, and supports broader commercial strategies to be able to better realise further growth opportunities.” 

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