Gondola Holdings is a leading player in the UK casual dining market and serves around 30 million meals a year through its two core pizza and pasta restaurant companies, PizzaExpress and Ask Restaurants (which operates the Ask and Zizzi brands).
The company was set up to float the restaurant brands owned by private equity firms TDR Capital and Capricorn Ventures International (CVI). TDR and CVI (which also owns the Nando’s chain of chicken restaurants) retained a majority stake following the flotation.
Their partnership began in 2003 with the £278m acquisition of PizzaExpress, which was founded in the 1960s by Peter Boizot.
In early 2004, they bought Ask Central (founded in 1993 by brothers Adam and Sam Kaye) for £213m to add the mid-market Ask and more up-market Zizzi brands to their portfolio.
Gondola Holdings also owns a handful of non-core restaurants, of which Jo Schmo’s, Lupo, and Bar and Grill belong to the Ask estate.
Prior to its flotation, the group disposed of most of the non-core and overseas PizzaExpress restaurants to a company owned by TDR and CVI and retained only the upmarket Kettners restaurant in Soho.
Those sold on included 12 Café Pasta restaurants, the Marzano and Riviera pizza and pasta restaurants in London and four Gourmet Pizza outlets. The disposal also included around 45 PizzaExpress restaurants outside the UK and Ireland, most of which were franchised.
The group additionally has a small retail business selling PizzaExpress-branded products through leading supermarkets in tandem with manufacturer Geest.
Pre-tax profit: -£19.2m
Turnover: £219.9m (2005: £202.5m)
Pre-tax profit: -£4.1m* (2005: -£7.8m)
* after exceptional items of £12m relating to the cost of entering the Stock Market and disposals
Full year end: 26 June 2005
Half year end: 8 January 2006
Figures for the half-year to 8 January 2006 (excluding restaurants sold before the flotation)
Total sales (including retail sales): £210.8m (2005: £198m)
Total restaurant sales: £206.7m (2005: £193.3m)
Like-for-like restaurant sales: £195.4m (£187.9m)
Operating profit: £38.8m (2005: £37.1m)
Total number of restaurants: 505
Kettners: 1, in Soho, London
Jo Schmo’s: 3 (Guildford, Wimbledon, Kingston)
Lupo: 2 pizza takeaways (North London)
Bar and Grill: 1 (Leamington Spa)
Location of group restaurants: high street (58%), retail/leisure parks (10%), business districts (9%), local neighbourhoods (23%).
Number of employees: 10,741 (7,500 at PizzaExpress)
“All three core brands continue to trade strongly across all regions of the UK and Ireland and across all location types.
Our new openings are on track to achieve our target of 20 to 25 for the full year. We have opened seven restaurants during the period, with another three restaurants opened since the close of the first half. Another 10 are currently on site."
Source: interim results statement, 16 March 2006