The man behind the new majority shareholding in Corbin & King said that it was essential to maintain caution in the expansion of the company’s restaurant brands across the UK and overseas.
“If we start to roll out the restaurants all over and too quickly we will lose the cachet of the brands,” Dillip Rajakarier (pictured), chief executive of Thai-based Minor Hotels, which paid £58m for a stake in the business founded by Jeremy King and Chris Corbin in 2003.
The intention is that Minor will take the renowned restaurants created by Corbin & King – the Wolseley, the Delaunay and Brasserie Zédel among them, as well as the Beaumont hotel – into UK cities outside London as standalone outlets, as introduce them into the 157 hotels it operates across 24 countries in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and South America.
“As a hotel and restaurant operator ourselves, we are not like a private equity investor who wants to make a profit and a quick exit by growing the brands quickly,” added Rajakarier. “We value the integrity of what Corbin & King has created and therefore have to be careful about growth.”
Rajakarier was cautious about naming too many specific cities for UK expansion, but said that several had been identified including Oxford, alongside locations in Scotland.
Overseas, the restaurants have the potential to work in three of Minor’s hotel brands including Antantara (luxury), Avani (lifestyle) and Tivoli (a four-five star brand acquired in Portugal two years ago). Minor has experience of working with third party restaurant operators within its hotels, including the owners of the Benihana, Zuma and Trader Vic brands.
“Our hotels all operate at the top end of their markets and it is important that we provide our guests with fantastic food and beverage experiences,” said Rajakarier. “The attraction of Corbin & King for us is that the group’s restaurant brands are very well-known and well-positioned.”
With regards to the expansion of the Beaumont hotel, Rajakarier said it is a brand that would work well overseas, adding that there could also be the opportunity to create a new hotel brand with Corbin & King.
In addition to his role as chief executive of Minor Hotels, Rajakarier is also chief operating officer of parent company Minor International, which operates food group and retail subsidiaries alongside the hotel business.
Minor Hotels purchased most of its stake in Corbin & King from private equity firm Graphite Capital, which invested £21m in the company five years ago.
King and Corbin will remain as minority shareholders, with King continuing to run the business as chief executive.
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