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Overall ranking: 51

Restaurateur ranking: 17

Robby Enthoven – Snapshot

Robby Enthoven is the managing director of Nando’s chicken restaurants, the 220-strong chain based on a Portuguese-Mozambique speciality: flame-grilled chicken spiced with peri-peri. Nando’s, which was founded in South Africa in 1987 by Fernando Duarte and Robert Brozin, has expanded worldwide through franchising. The UK company is owned by the Enthoven family-controlled investment company Capricorn Ventures International.

Robby Enthoven – Career guide

Enthoven’s father opened the first UK Nando’s in Ealing Common, west London, in 1992, followed by a second branch in Earls Court.

Both were struggling when Enthoven Jnr became managing director in 1993. Realising that the take-away format that predominated in South Africa was not right for London, Robby Enthoven brought in a new management team and relaunched the concept in 1995 as a quick-service operation where customers order at the counter and collect their own crockery but are served at the table. He also introduced a scheme to allow restaurant managers to become partners in the business. The company has expanded rapidly in recent years and currently has 220 UK sites.

Robby Enthoven – What we think

When Robby Enthoven’s father asked him to take over the struggling Earls Court branch of Nando’s, he expected his son to kill the business within six months but learn something in the process. But neither branch closed, and the self-confessed “bum” turned out to be a bright and astute businessman – although his philosophy is still to have fun while making a profit.

The group’s impressive expansion won Enthoven the Group Restaurateur of the Year Catey in 2002, when the 50 restaurants were turning over £50m a year. “His expansion programme has been successful, and it is possible Nando’s will become one of the main restaurant multiples,” one Catey judge predicted.

The judges praised Enthoven’s careful financial management and his ability to combine sound commercial planning with the provision of good-quality value-for-money food in a vibrant and fun environment. Most significantly, Enthoven is credited with breaking new ground by bridging the gap between fast food and traditional restaurants.

Enthoven has also invested heavily in his staff, with 75% of the human resources budget invested in learning and development. Staff are young – 65% were under 25 in 2005 – but staff turnover is low. Restaurant managers, or patros (Portuguese for head of the family), control their own marketing budgets and participate in an incentive scheme, while staff (called nandocas) benefit from discounts, free food, staff parties, rewards for good ideas and fun trips abroad for the hardest workers. These initiatives have seen Nando’s pick up a number of awards, including the Sunday Times Best Place to Work (Big Companies) category in 2010.

In recent months Nando’s has taken advantage of the cheaper property market and expanded aggressively in London, opening in the Westfield shopping centre, on the South Bank and in King’s Cross. Outside London, it has opened in Belfast, Thurrock and Glasgow. There are now 220 Nando’s in the UK, serving 800,000 customers every week

Capricorn Ventures, which has fended off a number of bids for Nando’s in recent years, is promising to expand even further, declaring that the UK can support up to 400 sites.

Robby Enthoven – Further information

Nando’s scoops three stars in the Best Companies Accreditation 2010 scheme >>

Nando’s HR directors slams staff poachers >>

Nando’s improves concept for UK >>

Read more about the 100, the list of the most influential people, here >>

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