Overall ranking: 29 (15 in 2012)
Restaurateur ranking: 9 (4 in 2012)
South African Robby Enthoven is managing director of peri-peri chicken restaurant chain Nando’s. Founded in 1987 in South Africa by Fernando Duarte and Robert Brozin, the restaurant group now has around 1,000 outlets in 30 countries. The group is owned by Enthoven family-controlled investment company Yellowwoods, formerly Capricorn Ventures International, run by Robby’s father, Dick Enthoven.
What we think
When Enthoven became managing director in 1993 – one year after the group’s sale to Capricorn Ventures International – there were only two UK branches: Ealing Common in west London and Earls Court, both of which were struggling. Enthoven’s laid-back attitude meant that when his father asked him to take over the Earl’s Court branch, he expected it to go under within six months. Looking back, even Robby described himself as a ‘a self-confessed bum’.
However, he proved himself as quite the businessman by relaunching Nando’s in 1995 as a quick-service operation where customers order at the counter but are served at the table, as he felt the previous takeaway model was not right for London. Following the relaunch, Enthoven was praised for bridging the gap between fast food and traditional restaurants – something London hadn’t seen before.
Over his 25 years of service, Enthoven has overseen the Nando’s expansion from two to over 370 outlets in the UK – including 60 that are halal. It has 1,200 restaurants across 23 countries.
In 2002 he was awarded Group Restaurateur of the Year at the Cateys when the group’s 50 restaurants were turning over £50m a year and the average meal cost less than £10 per person. The restaurant group is now frequented by celebrities such as British professional boxer Nicola Adams, English singer Ed Sheeran and the actors of EastEnders.
Staff members are known as Nandocas. During Enthoven’s reign, he introduced a scheme to allow restaurant managers to become partners in the business and staff are offered extensive benefits, which led to the group winning The Sunday Times’ Best Place to Work Award in the big company category in 2010. The group has also won numerous National Training Awards in recognition of its induction and coaching skills programmes (nearly half of Nando’s managers started out as cashiers or grillers).
Nando’s restaurants underwent refurbishment in 2016 to showcase a new, modern South African design. Enthoven intended to differentiate Nando’s original Portuguese design from restaurant to restaurant to make the brand seem like less of a chain.
The company reported an increase in revenue to £809m in the year ending February 2016, up from £587m in 2015 due to the expansion overseas – namely Singapore, Malaysia and India.