Lomo Bidco, the holding company of the 16-strong Gaucho restaurant group has acquired M Restaurants, the operator of three outlets, for an undisclosed sum.
Following the transaction, Lomo Bidco – owned by Investec Bank and SC Lowy – will be renamed as Rare Restaurants, with Martin Williams, the founder of M Restaurants, as its chief executive.
Williams returned to work for Gaucho, alongside his role at M Restaurants, following the acquisition out of administration of Gaucho by Investec Bank and SC Lowy in October 2018, saving 750 jobs. He immediately set about overhauling the group’s menu and cutting prices in a bid to entice new audiences, resulting in the business achieving consistent double digit like-for-like cover growth over the past four months.
In an exclusive interview with The Caterer, which will be printed in full in the 19 April edition, Williams said: “The deal bookends an amazing five years [since the founding of M Restaurants]. The deal rewards M’s investors and some of the key team and gives M a great future in the new company, with better growth opportunities, much more secure backing, and more flexibility for the journey it is about to go on.
“The next challenge is attracting a group of ambitious and hungry individuals to the management of Gaucho, who want to be part of the journey. It is amazing the opportunity because it is not very often you get to reset an existing brand.”
M Restaurants shareholders are said to have achieved “a profitable exit” from their investment.
Gaucho and M Restaurants will continue to operate independently of each other, but will enjoy a shared head office, with a senior management team overseeing both brands.
Williams will be supported by Jim Kottler, who has recently been appointed as chief financial officer from D&D London; Jenna Bromage as brand and marketing director, who has joined the group from Mondrian London and SBE Hotels; and Gemma Meale as HR director from the Splendid Hotel Group.
Williams added: “I’m excited by the coming together of Gaucho and M Restaurants. Both brands are incredibly close to my heart and I am confident that together with Investec Bank and SC Lowy’s backing we have what it takes to build further on the success we’ve already achieved.
“When I created M, I hoped that eventually, we would find the right backers to offer our current shareholders a profitable exit, while propelling the company into a new chapter which would embrace our entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to an outstanding guest experience. I am delighted that we have found what promises to be a perfect partnership.”
A spokesperson for Investec and SC Lowy said: “This is an exciting next chapter for both brands within the group. As Gaucho continues to grow steadily and build on an established presence, M’s dynamism and ongoing expansion makes it a perfect complement. We look forward to working with Martin and the team to drive both brands’ success.”
For an in-depth insight into the acquisition, read an interview with Martin Williams in The Caterer on 19 April.