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Mon 22nd Aug 2016 - D&D London eyes European expansion
D&D London eyes European expansion: D&D London is eyeing expansion in Europe as it looks to shrug off the impact of the Brexit vote on its London sites. The company is considering sites in Amsterdam and Lisbon, with the former in a more advanced stage than the latter, said chairman and chief executive Des Gunewardena. He told the Daily Telegraph: “We’re looking at something quite seriously in Amsterdam. It’s not a done deal, but if that happens it will be a project for next year.” While D&D has sites in Leeds, Paris, New York, and Tokyo, most of its restaurants, including its only hotel, are in London. Expanding further overseas, including plans to open in Dubai, will lessen its reliance on the UK capital, even though Gunewardena believes the London market will “still be good for many years”. However, its high-end restaurants did suffer an “absolutely terrible month” in June amid nervousness ahead of the Brexit vote and also in the fortnight after the referendum, he said. Much of the anxiety came from D&D’s corporate customers, who are particularly important to its London sites such as Coq d’Argent in the Square Mile and Le Pont de la Tour near Tower Bridge, but Gunewardena said bookings were now recovering as worries about Brexit fade. “We’ve a very good bellwether for what the City is thinking,” he added. Gunewardena and business partner David Loewi led a management buyout of the business, which was called Conran Restaurants, a decade ago. They were preparing for a stock market float of D&D that would allow private equity firm LDC to sell down its stake but abandoned their plans when markets wobbled in January. Gunewardena said: “We haven’t really looked at it since. The markets have got a bit better, maybe we should have a look at it but we’re not at the moment.”

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