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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 4th Apr 2019 - Gaucho owner acquires M Restaurants, Leon sales boost:
Gaucho owner acquires M Restaurants: Gaucho owner Lomo Bidco, which is owned by Investec Bank and SC Lowy, has acquired M Restaurants for an undisclosed sum. The deal brings together M Restaurants’ three sites and Gaucho’s 16 venues, with M Restaurant’s shareholders successfully exiting. M Restaurants and Gaucho will operate independently under a new company – Rare Restaurants. M Restaurants founder Martin Williams, who has led Gaucho since Lomo Bidco acquired it from administration last year, will assume the role of Rare Restaurants chief executive. He is joined by Jim Kottler, who recently took the role of chief financial officer having joined from D&D London. Meanwhile, Jenna Bromage, previously at Mondrian London/Morgan’s Hotel Group, has been appointed brand and marketing director, while Gemma Meale has assumed the group’s HR director position after joining from Splendid Hotel Group. Williams said: “I am excited by the coming together of Gaucho and M Restaurants. Both brands are incredibly close to my heart and I’m confident that together with Investec Bank and SC Lowy’s backing we have what it takes to build further on the success we’ve already achieved. When I created M, I hoped we would eventually find the right backers to offer our current shareholders a profitable exit while propelling the company into a new chapter that would embrace our entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to an outstanding guest experience. I am delighted we have found what promises to be a perfect partnership.” Shareholders Investec and SC Lowy added: “As Gaucho continues to grow steadily and build on an established presence, M’s dynamism and ongoing expansion makes it a perfect complement.” Zeus Capital advised on the deal. Gaucho went into administration last year after struggling with the underperformance of its CAU brand, which has now closed.

Leon reports like-for-likes up 22.9% in first quarter as expansion continues: Natural fast food brand Leon has reported like-for-like sales in the first quarter of 2019 have increased 22.9%, with new menu innovations making a significant contribution. The company said its Leon LOVe burger, launched in restaurants in January, has been one of its most successful dishes to date. The LOVe burger is made using a vegan patty and, as of this month, will be available with the option of a gluten-free bun. It is currently the third-biggest selling item on the menu behind its baked fries and satay chicken hot box. Leon has been committed to a more varied plant-based menu since it opened in 2004. The percentage of plant-based dishes sold in restaurants has grown by 8.5%. Almost half (48%) of the menu is now vegetarian and 40% vegan – up from 40% and 28% respectively in 2016. Leon is continuing its growth with new restaurants in Dublin, Cheshire Oaks, London and other international cities. Cheshire Oaks will open on Wednesday (10 April), which will be the brand’s first restaurant in an out-of-town shopping centre. Leon Dublin opens on Wednesday, 8 May in the cultural quarter of Temple Bar, with a second Dublin site arriving later this year. These are the first of 20 planned for Ireland in an ambitious franchise plan creating 600 jobs nationally. In London, a long-awaited location will open on the main thoroughfare of Notting Hill Gate on Monday, 20 May, while internationally Leon will open in Basel, Switzerland, in the autumn followed by more Swiss city sites. Leon’s US expansion carries on apace too, with Washington DC’s second restaurant welcoming its first customers later this year.

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