Tragus Holdings is one of the UK’s largest independent restaurant operators. Its 160mid-market restaurants serve more than 12 million meals each year.
The company was formed in 2002 from the £25m acquisition of the Pelican Group and BrightReasons Group from Whitbread, which bought the companies in 1996 for £133m and £46m respectively in a deal that netted it nearly 300 restaurants.
Tragus’s key brands are the Parisian bistro-style Café Rouge and the Italian Bella Italia. Tragus also operates a brasserie division whose menus cover Italian (Amalfi and Mamma Amalfi), Continental (Oriel), Belgian-style restaurants and bars (Abbaye) and Spanish cuisine (Leadenhall Wine and Tapas Bar).
Bella Italia, Café Rouge
Mamma Amalfi, Amalfi, Abbaye, Oriel, Leadenhall Wine and Tapas Bar
Turnover: £116.6m (2004: £101.9m)
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation: £16.7m (2004: £12.8m)
Operating profit: £12.3m (2004: £9.4m)
Financial year end: 29 May 2005
Total number of outlets: 160 (135 outside London)
Café Rouge: 82 (high street and concessions)
Results for the year to 29 May 2005:
Turnover: £60m (2004 £50.8m)
Ebitda: £13.8m (2004: £13.8m)
Bella Italia: 64 (high street and leisure parks)
Results for the year to 29 May 2005:
Turnover: £43.9m (2004: £38.4m)
Mamma Amalfi: eight (in shopping centres and near cinemas)
Amalfi: one (in Old Compton Street, London)
Abbaye: three (in London’s Old Brompton Road, Bromley, and Smithfield)
Oriel: one (in Sloane Square, London)
Leadenhall Wine and Tapas Bar: one (in the City of London)
Number of employees: about 3,800
“Eight new restaurants have opened since May 2004, as the group successfully delivers on its strategy to build turnover and Ebitda while driving operating profitability. These new sites are currently generating an average return of 40%, demonstrating the tremendous potential of our key brands. We aim to open arund 12 restaurants each year and have secured funding to enable us to open 36 restaurants over the next three years. There is ample opportunity in the UK to double the size of the Café Rouge estate."
Source: Financial year results, 13 October 2005
Property director: Phil Derbyshire
Chief financial officer: Mohan Mansigani
Marketing director: Lisa Fredman
Chief operating officer: James Parsons
Human resources director: Nick Hoad
Tragus has invested £8m in revitalising its core chains, which had been regarded as tired and clapped-out brands. It has enhanced the menus, increased outdoor dining facilities across all the brands and extended the opening hours at Bella Italia and Café Rouge to cater for the growing demand for all-day dining.
Café Rouge has been refurbished and returned to its core French bistro heritage while Bella Pasta was renamed Bella Italia in a bid to sell more pizzas and has been restored to the full menu and ambience of a traditional trattoria. Thechanges appear to have paid off both financially and critically - the group scooped the Retailer Award for Turnaround Brand of the Year 2005 for the Café Rouge brand.
Since May 2002, Tragus has opened three new Bella Italias (in Plymouth, Cambridge and Nottingham) and added seven new Café Rouge venues in Heathrow Terminal One, Brighton, Portsmouth, Manchester, Bristol, the Birmingham Bullring and Bath (a conversion of a former Bella Pasta).
The rate of new openings looks set to accelerate under new owner LGV, which plans to open around 12 new restaurants a year for five years. The focus will be on the core Café Rouge and Bella Italia brands. New openings are planned in Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Manchester in the current financial year.
New chief executive Graham Turner sees scope for up to 200 Café Rouges but recognises the danger of expanding too quickly.