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Fri 15th Dec 2023 - D&D founder Des Gunewardena to return with City of London venue
D&D founder Des Gunewardena to return with City of London venue: Des Gunewardena, co-founder and former chief executive of restaurant group D&D London, is to open a new restaurant and bar venue at The Royal Exchange, in the City. Gunewardena, who left D&D London in September 2022, has signed an agreement with The Ardent Companies UK to open a new flagship restaurant, bar and event space at The Royal Exchange. He has taken 6,500 square-foot of space on a new 15-year lease, with the new venture occupying the north, south and east mezzanines of the main central courtyard, together with a newly created outdoor terrace at the front of the building. Details of food, drink and design concepts are to be announced closer to the venue’s planned opening in May 2024. The venue will also feature live music and entertainment. Gunewardena said: “I have always loved the Royal Exchange since my first involvement with the building back in my Conran days. Ardent has some imaginative proposals for evolving what is already a very successful luxury retail and restaurant offer, and I am excited to be part of those plans.” Andrew Hilston, managing director of The Ardent Companies UK, added: “We are hugely excited to welcome Des to The Royal Exchange, and can’t wait to see his concepts come to life. Alongside existing eateries, including The Libertine and The Fortnum & Mason bar and restaurant, Des’ arrival will further burnish The Royal Exchange’s reputation as one of The City’s best places for dining and socialising.” Providing 51,400 square foot of retail and socialising space around a historic covered courtyard, The Royal Exchange opened in 1566 as London’s first purpose-built trading centre. It once housed Lloyd’s insurance market and Queen Victoria unveiled the current building, the third on the site, in 1844. Located opposite the Bank of England between Threadneedle Street and Cornhill, the retail element of The Royal Exchange was acquired by The Ardent Companies UK – a subsidiary of US-based real estate investment and asset management firm The Ardent Companies – in October 2022. Bruce Gillingham Pollard advised Ardent UK, Gillingham Bell represented Des Gunewardena. In October, Calveton, the backer of Byron, and Breal Capital, completed a deal to acquire D&D London, which owns and operates circa 40 restaurants across the UK and internationally. Gunewardena was believed to be one of the bidders for the business. D&D features in the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book. Group revenue over the 15 months to June 2022 was £163m, or 90% of pre-covid levels, while earnings were £17m, or 122% of pre-covid. The Blue Book ranks companies by turnover, profit and profit conversion, listing directors’ earnings for the past five years. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £995 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £495 plus VAT for operators and £595 plus VAT for suppliers. Email kai.kirkman@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription.

Shamal Holding takes full controlling interest in Sushisamba: Investment firm Shamal Holding has completed the acquisition of Sushisamba Group, taking full controlling interest in the award-winning fusion restaurant brand Sushisamba. As part of the new structure, and having already owned 50% of Sushisamba since 2014, Shamal Holding now takes full controlling interest in the brand and its operational activities across all international locations. Sunset Hospitality Group retains full ownership and management of Sushisamba Dubai and management of Sushisamba Abu Dhabi. After opening its first restaurant in New York in 1999, Sushisamba now operates two restaurants in central London, alongside locations in Doha, Edinburgh, Las Vegas, and Dubai. Shamal Holding said its acquisition of Sushisamba reflects the company’s focus on “building an international portfolio of high-end hospitality, food and beverage, real estate and leisure destination assets, investments and experiences”. Abdulla Binhabtoor, chief portfolio management officer at Shamal Holding, said: “Sushisamba is one of the most highly acclaimed concept restaurants in the world. Having formed a strong partnership with the Sushisamba team since 2014, we look forward to applying our resources and know-how to drive accelerated growth for the business and its continued evolution as an iconic restaurant experience and lifestyle brand. Sushisamba enhances our global hospitality portfolio, which already includes a number of extraordinary assets as part of a globally diversified portfolio, mirroring Dubai’s ambition, spirit and energy.” Omar Gutierrez, co-chief executive of Sushisamba Group, added: “For close to a decade, Shamal Holding has been a key partner in Sushisamba's success story. Over that time, we have formed a strong partnership, working closely to drive growth across our operations. The move signifies more than a shift in structure, it demonstrates a deepened commitment to our growth and evolution enabling us to continue to thrive in this dynamic and creative market as an iconic restaurant experience and lifestyle brand around the world.” The brand is set to open new locations in Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, and Riyadh in 2024.

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