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Tue 2nd Aug 2022 - Comptoir Group CEO and chairman step down
Comptoir Group CEO and chairman step down: Comptoir Group, the Comptoir Libanais and Shawa brand operator, has announced chief executive Chaker Hanna and chairman Richard Kleiner have stepped down with immediate effect. It comes after the company’s co-founder Tony Kitous called for the pair to resign in June. Kleiner was voted out at the company’s annual general meeting last month but the board reappointed him the same day. However, a statement from Comptoir Group said: “Following the announcement on 28 June 2022 in relation to the requests by Tony Kitous, founder and creative director of Comptoir Group, the company announces Kleiner and Hanna have stepped down as chair and chief executive, respectively, with immediate effect. Beatrice Lafon and Jean-Michel Orieux have been appointed to the board with immediate effect as independent non-executive chair and independent non-executive director, respectively. Lafon has operated at chief executive level for almost 20 years and as a non-executive director for over five years. She has a strong record in the launch, turnaround and profitable development of major retail businesses in the UK, Europe and the USA. Previously a non-executive director of PizzaExpress and SuperDry, she chairs a number of businesses in the UK, including Crosstown. Orieux has deep expertise in the consumer and hospitality sectors. He was formerly chief executive of Ping Pong, where he formulated and implemented a turnaround and brand strategy to drive international expansion. He became chief executive of Paul UK and USA in 2013 before joining the board in 2018. As chief executive of the Argyll Club, he led the company through a review of its core proposition, strategy and performance. The reconstituted board intends to commence an immediate thorough and independent search for a new chief executive through an executive search firm. Both internal and external candidates will be considered. Kitous will not be standing for the role of chief executive In the interim period, Orieux will become interim chief executive until the new candidate is appointed. The reconstituted board will be responsible for maintaining and extending the company's growth trajectory, including investing in the brand and customer experience, accelerating the opening of new restaurants and exploiting opportunities in franchising and wholesale.” Hanna said: “I would like to thank our chairman, Richard Kleiner, and the entire team at Comptoir for their dedication and commitment in building the company over the past 12 and a half years with all the challenges that we had to face. I am leaving the business with current record performance in sales, profit and also record cash position. To this end I'm very grateful to each of our team to enable me to be leaving the business in such a state. I wish the company well.” Lafon added: “I am excited to be joining Comptoir as we look to the future. Our employees are central to our success and I look forward to meeting our talented staff and ensuring we appoint a best-in-class chief executive to lead this exciting next phase.”

Red Oak Taverns secures £110m debt facility to support expansion: Red Oak Taverns, the national pub operator founded by Aaron Brown and Mark Grunnell in 2011, has secured a £110m six-year loan to fund its expansion plans. The debt facility from Excellion Capital refinances Red Oak’s existing debt and provides fresh capital to drive its future growth plans. Of the funds, £50m of the facility serves as an acquisition facility to drive the purchase of new assets and new investment, including capital expenditure into the existing 208-strong estate. Red Oak has grown considerably over the past decade, successfully expanding its estate from its initial portfolio of 32 pubs. The new credit line enables management to continue to expand and to drive performance across its portfolio at a time when pubs have faced a challenging climate. During 2021, more than 400 pubs closed in England and Wales, with a further 200 closing in the first half of 2022. Red Oak completed five acquisitions totalling 34 pubs during lockdown in 2021. Grunnell said: “We are pleased to have secured this facility and it has been a pleasure to work with Excellion. Our new financing provides us with the capital to continue to expand our portfolio and helps us along the next stage of our journey.” Ashley Marks, managing director of Excellion Capital, added: “Red Oak has proved to be an extremely strong operator in a challenging industry, and we’re glad to assist it in a transaction that will help turbocharge its next stage of growth.”

Stay Original Company secures £3.5m loan for sixth site: South west boutique hotel and pub group Stay Original Company has secured a £3.5m loan to buy its sixth site. The funds, provided by Cynergy Bank, have been used to purchase At The Chapel, located in Bruton, Somerset. The building dates to the 17th century with an 18th century chapel and comprises a restaurant, artisan bakery, wine store and eight bedrooms. The loan was structured with an initial 12 month interest-only period followed by a 24-year repayment profile. The loan takes Cynergy’s total lending to Stay Original Company to £12.2m. James Brooke-Webb, co-founder of Stay Original Company, said: “We are growing and At the Chapel is exactly the sort of opportunity we have been looking for.” Steve Crosswell, relationship director, Cynergy Bank, added: “Having completed our first deal with [co-founder] Rob [Greacen] and James in May 2021 we were pleased to be able to further support the growth plan. At The Chapel is a wonderful asset and one that will fit perfectly within the existing portfolio of premium, boutique coaching inns.” Stay Original Company was advised by Bruce Roxburgh, of Roxburgh Milkins, and Tom Marshall and Bethany Drew, of TLT. Cynergy was advised by Chris Shearer, of Colliers, and Charlotte Round, Sam Mason and Stephen Cull, of Fieldfisher.

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