The restaurant empire founded by Sir Terence Conran will change hands for the first time in nearly a decade after its owners entered into exclusive talks with a little-known private investor.
Sky News has learned that D&D, which owns top London restaurants such as the Bluebird in Chelsea, the Coq d’Argent in the heart of the city and Skylon on the South Bank, is set to be acquired by Montecito Equity. Partners.
Sources said the talks were weeks away from being concluded and a deal is expected to put D&D at an enterprise value of around Â£ 100million.
If completed, it will be the first time since 2013 that control of Sir Terence’s former business has changed ownership, and will come just over a year after the death of one of the most influential British designers.
It will also represent a bet on the resumption of the central London food scene in the wake of the pandemic, with D & D’s 40 or so UK restaurants having been closed for much of the past 18 months.
Most of D&D locations, many of which have become famous as celebrity haunts, are in the capital, although it also operates restaurants in Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, New York and Paris.
A new business in Birmingham is expected to open next spring.
Little is known about D & D’s financial performance since the start of the pandemic: According to Companies House, its accounts for the period to September 30, 2020 were due on Thursday.
The jerky return of office workers to central London, which has been delayed by emerging strains of coronavirus and continually reshaped by various employer policies on remote working, has nonetheless encouraged hotel bosses to return their financial viability. .
Some of the city’s best-known restaurants, such as Le Caprice, owned by tycoon Richard Caring, have closed their doors permanently during the pandemic, while many casual dining chains have been forced to undergo restructuring or procedures. insolvency.
Sir Terence pioneered new trends in upscale dining when The Tower Bridge near the Tower of London and Quaglino’s in St James’s opened in the early 1990s.
D&D is named after current Chairman Des Gunewardena and Vice Chairman David Loewi, who took over the company when they bought a stake in Conran Restaurants in 2006.
In 2013, LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group, took control of the business.
The buyout company considered going public with D&D in 2015, but the IPO did not take place.
A later Sir Terence’s catering business, which had outlets including Lutyens on Fleet Street, was forced to bring in directors in 2018.
Interpath Advisory, the former restructuring unit of KPMG UK, advised the sale of D&D while broadening its offering to provide general corporate finance advice, according to people familiar with the process.
Little is known about the investment history of Montecito, which is based in Kensington.
The company was founded by Pravir Singh, a former UBS executive who “led the coverage of a number of the bank’s most important billionaire clients,” according to the Montecito website.
The exact structure of its acquisition of D&D was unclear over the weekend, although an insider said it was possible that LDC would retain a small stake in the company.
LDC, Montecito and Interpath declined to comment this weekend, while D&D has been contacted for comment.