The D&D London restaurant group was founded in the late 1980s by designer and retailer Sir Terence Conran. It was known as Conran Restaurants until late 2006, when a management buy-out team acquired a 49% stake from Conran Holdings. The name subsequently changed to D&D London.
It owns and operates a diverse collection of individual restaurants offering a range of cuisines including British, European, Italian, Spanish, Cuban and Japanese. Most are in London but the group has outposts in the US, Japan and Europe. One restaurant, the Orrery, has held a Michelin star since 2000.
D&D also owns a 25% stake in the Individual Restaurant Company, which operates more than 20 restaurants in the UK under the four brand names of Piccolinos, Restaurant Bar and Grill, Bank, and Zinc Bar and Grill (which Bank Restaurant Group acquired from Conran in 2005 before being bought itself in November 2006)
Other D&D partners include Japanese restaurant group Hiramatsu, Danish property company Centerplan, and Havana Holdings (D&D’s 25% shareholder in Floridita in Soho).
D&D and Havana (which also owns Floriditas in Dublin and Madrid) both part-own Esencia Hotels and Resorts, which is planning a luxury golf resort with D&D restaurants in Cuba.
D&D is also a backer of Anna Hansen’s Modern Pantry restaurant, which opened in Clerkenwell in August/September 2008.
Turnover: £71.7m (+18%)
Operating profit: £4.6m (+10%)
Financial year end: 31 March 2008
Number of employees: approximately 1,500
Total number of restaurants: 28
London restaurants: 20
Almeida, The Avenue, Bluebird, Blueprint Cafe, Butlers Wharf Chop House and Bar, Cantina del Ponte, Coq d'Argent, Floridita, Kensington Place, Launceston Place, La Casa del Habano, Launceston Place, Le Pont de la Tour, Orrery, Paternoster Chophouse, Plateau, Meza, Quaglino's, Restaurant Sauterelle, Sartoria, Skylon
Overseas restaurants: 8
Denmark: Custom House (Bacino, Custom House Bar and Grill, Ebisu)
New York: Guastavino’s
Japan: Botanica, Iconic, Noodle Workship
“We are seeking partners to take the business t the next stage of expansion. There are big opportunities to expand the group in London, New York, Asia and the Middle East."
The group is also keen to move back into the hotel sector.
Source: Des Gunewardena, May 2008, on the planned sale of Sir Terence Conran's 51% stake
Chairman: Des Gunewardena
Managing director: David Loewi
Finance director: Adam Bellamy
Human resources director: Ian Horrox
Food development director: Max Renzland
Conran’s restaurant openings in the late 1980s and early 1990s helped put London on the world’s gastronomic map. His stylish, mid-market restaurants (all designed by his design and architectural practice Conran & Partners) made eating out cheaper and more accessible without compromising quality and the restaurants thrived during the depths of recession.
The vast size of some of these early openings paved the way for the rise of the gastropubs. Quaglino’s (which had nearly 300 restaurant seats and 113 bar seats) was Europe’s largest restaurant when it opened while the Mezzo/Mezzonine gastrodome could seat 750 people at a time. On top of three restaurants, the Butlers Wharf gastrodome additionally threw in a food store, a wine merchant, an oil and spice shop and a bakery. It also housed a chef school and training restaurant (the Apprentice) from 1995 which trained more than 1,000 students before spiralling rents forced its closure in 2001.
Following the sale of the Great Eastern Hotel in 2006, D&D London is actively seeking to develop new hotel opportunities.