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Fri 14th Jun 2013 - Grand Union boss reveals Johnson deal background
Adam Marshall ‘Grand Union deal with Luke Johnson followed on from Propel Conference’: Grand Union founder Adam Marshall has revealed that it was hearing investor Luke Johnson speak at the Propel Multi Club Conference in March that made him decide he was would be a great investor to take his London-based Grand Union business forward. The investment by Johnson, in a personal capacity, saw him acquire the 50% stake of Grand Union co-founder Adam Saword. The investment was completed in a few short weeks after Marshall contacted Johnson in the wake of the conference. Marshall told Propel: “The Propel conference was an important factor. I liked the way Luke talked - he wasn’t full of bluff. He is pretty direct and realistic about the industry. I thought, ‘This is exactly the sort of person I want to work with’. I’ve spoken with private equity firms and banks in the past but there isn’t anyone better placed or a better operator in terms of growing brands and businesses. He gives us credibility as well – he believes in our brand and the opportunity. He’s also ‘positively challenging’, which is, essentially, the way I run the business.” Marshall said that Grand Union hopes to open ten new sites in the next three year to add to the existing seven – there is a target of three or four new sites in the first year. The company was already looking at three sites prior to the Johnson investment. “It looks like two of those might happen – one free-of-tie site and one tied site.” The company will look at sites that range from 3,000 square foot with a large external area up to 7,000 square foot. Grand Union already operates in a range of locations, from a business district like Paddington through to south London sites. “Half of the estate going forward will be free-of-tie but some of out tied pubs make up to £500,000 site profit – our Brixton and Wandsworth venues are great sites.” Marshall said that it would be 18 months before the company begins to look at sites outside of London. Current like-for-likes at Grand Union are seven per cent up. “March was a tough month but we’re looking forward to a good summer,” he added. (The next Propel Multi Club Conference takes place next Thursday (20 June) at Oxford Belfry. A late addition to the speaker programme in Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin who will be talking to Propel managing director Paul Charity about the company’s growth pinch-points and the myths that have grown up around the company.) 
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