SHARES in Groupe Chez Gérard were today listed on the stock market at 112.5p - the first stage in the London restaurant group's plan to double in size over the next three to four years.

The placing price values the company at just over £21m, though the level of demand for the shares prior to the flotation suggests they will see an early premium once trading begins.

Just under 70% of the group is being placed, much of it with institutional investors, with the directors and senior managers retaining the balance. Neville Abraham and Laurence Isaacson, who founded the group as Lakebird Leisure eight years ago, have appointed Harry Hyman, a former colleague from Kennedy Brookes days, as finance director.

Mr Hyman, who will work alongside operational financial controller Terry Edwards on a part-time basis, has been brought on board to assist with acquisitions and dealing with the City.

Mr Isaacson told Caterer the prospects for the group were encouraging, with customer spending now almost back to pre-recession levels. In the year to 26 June, the company is forecasting pre-tax profits of £1.62m - up 69% on the previous 12 months.

Chez Gérard operates seven restaurants in central London, but is already looking at a number of new sites. The flotation is providing £4m of new money for acquisitions.

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