Overall ranking: 7
Restaurateur ranking: 1
Richard Caring - Snapshot
Richard Caring is the once-reclusive rag trade millionaire who has been shot into the limelight in recent years through his rapid acquisition of a clutch of trophy hospitality businesses. His current collection includes Caprice Holdings, whose stable of restaurants includes three of London’s most celebrated eateries in the Ivy, Le Caprice and J Sheekey, along with Scott’s, Daphne’s, Bam-Bou and two Rivington Grills. Caring also owns Soho House Group – the private members' club group that has gone global in recent years - Cote, the Birley Group and the Wentworth golf club and hotel in Surrey, where he serves as chairman.
Richard Caring - Career guide
Richard Caring’s spending spree in the hospitality and tourism sector kicked off in January 2004 when he bought the Camden Market complex – one of London’s most visited tourist attractions - for £40m.
After buying Wentworth, Caring realised he needed to raise the standard of food. He approached his favourite restaurant, Le Caprice, in summer 2005, but as discussions deteriorated Caring joked it was costing him so much he might as well buy the whole Le Caprice group; it emerged that the management was looking for a buyer.
Six weeks later, after selling designer evening wear label Amanda Wakeley, Caring secured a £31.5m deal to take over Caprice Holdings, owner of the Ivy, Le Caprice and J Sheekey, as well as Italian restaurant Daphne’s, Vietnamese restaurant Bam-Bou and the Moroccan Pasha restaurant.
In 2005 he added fish restaurant Scott’s and catering firm Urban Productions, but sold Pasha to Algerian restaurateur Tony Kitous. He also bought Strada and Belgo owner Signature Restaurants from Luke Johnson for £57m.
In 2006 Caring bought Rivington, the two-restaurant group independently set up by Caprice Holdings' chef-director Mark Hix.
After rapidly expanding Strada over 18 months, he sold it for £145m in 2007 to fund the purchase of the Birley Group, comprising Annabel's, Harry's Bar and Mark's Club, for £95m including a vast art collection.
In 2008 Caring agreed a leveraged buyout of 28 small investors in private members' club Soho House, taking 80% for £105m, with the remainder held by Nick Jones, who remains chief executive and is also his partner in Cecconi’s restaurant, which has sites in Mayfair and Los Angeles.
Caring also owns stakes in Cote (set up by the former management team of Strada), Carluccio's and Bill’s Produce Store.
Richard Caring - What we think
There are serial deal makers; then there is Richard Caring. The permatanned rag trade millionaire has been involved in many of the largest deals seen in the hospitality industry in recent years, generally of the famous brand variety – the Ivy, Soho House – but also with smaller operators such as Cote, the brasserie brand set up by two former Strada directors.
Caring’s vision is for a “group of top-notch brands” across the globe, described by The Times food critic AA Gill as "the restaurant equivalent of LVMH”.
“He’s spending a lot more on these businesses than they’re probably worth, but eventually he’ll have a portfolio that, as a brand, is worth far more than the sum of its parts,” Gill wrote in 2007.
With £130m-worth of credit from HBOS in Caring’s back pocket, Soho House is set to expand fairly rapidly in the near future, with sites in Istanbul, Tokyo, Shanghai, Cairo and Sydney believed to be on the cards.
Caring also has ambitious targets for Cote, the brasserie chain he set up with former Strada directors Andy Bassadone and Chris Benians.
"My target is to open 20 a year, and we think there is scope to have 300 of those in the UK," Caring told the Daily Telegraph in April. "We also have Bills, a giant deli with a restaurant in the middle. We've got two, but I think we could get to 200."
Caring is also looking at another six sites for Caprice Group in the UK over the next year – and is not ruling out new deals on hotels, restaurants and clubs. “We have the experience and the management structure, chefs and staff,” he told Square Meal last year. “I don’t think there is anybody in this country who has the depth of people working in food and beverages.”
And don’t rule out a takeover of Carluccio's, in which Caring has a 12% stake. "I find it pedestrian, because they are so slow to roll it out," he told the Telegraph. "They're very laid back – which is not to say they're bad managers; I don't think they are. I'd like to see them taking more risks. They're too slow."
The next planned opening in the Caring empire is an Ivy hotel next door to the iconic restaurant in London. Caring said the hotel would have about 50-60 bedrooms and would take a couple of years to develop.
Richard Caring - Further information
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