Speaking after Gaucho holding company Lomo Bidco - an entity owned by Investec Bank plc and SC Lowy - acquired M Restaurants for an undisclosed sum, Williams said the move offered growth potential for Gaucho, M and M’s Bar & Grill model.
The transaction brings together M Restaurants’ three venues and Gaucho’s 16 restaurants, with M’s shareholders successfully exiting.
Following the move, Lomo Bidco will be renamed ‘Rare Restaurants’ and will act as the holding company for the 19-strong restaurant group. Gaucho and M will continue to operate with independent operational teams, but with a shared head office, with a senior management team overseeing both brands.
Martin Williams, the founder of M who has led Gaucho for the past six months, will assume the role of chief executive of Rare Restaurants.
He will be joined by Jim Kottler, who has recently taken the position of CFO and joins from D&D London and Jenna Bromage who has been appointed brand and marketing director, previously at Mondrian London/Morgan’s Hotel Group. Gemma Meale assumes the group’s HR director position, after joining from the Splendid Hotel Group.
“I’m excited by the coming together of Gaucho and M Restaurants,” said Williams. “Both brands are incredibly close to my heart and I am confident that together with Investec Bank plc 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 that eventually we would find the right backers to offer our current shareholders a profitable exit, while propelling the company into a new chapter which would embrace our entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to an outstanding guest experience. I am delighted that we have found what promises to be a perfect partnership.”
According to Williams, the initial focus would be on stabilising the Gaucho proposition and redesigning key restaurants. A new menu and wine list has already been introduced which has seen covers rise 20% year-on-year and spend per head dip 15%.
Refurbishments of the Charlotte Street and Chancery Lane sites will be undertaken this year with work to add new bars to the sites in the O2 and Piccadilly.
Investment bank Zeus Capital advised Management through the transaction process as well as the M shareholders on the sale.
“We believe the new strategy behind Gaucho and its subsequent combination with M is a much needed positive piece of news for the UK restaurant sector,” says Dane Houlahan, M&A Managing Director at Zeus. “We have no doubt the enlarged group with backing from its new owners will go from strength to strength over the coming years.”
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