Overall ranking: 92 (new entry)
Restaurateur ranking: 26 (new entry)
Having generated a fortune of £250m from Punch Taverns and PizzaExpress, Hugh Osmond bought Strada's 43-strong restaurant portfolio for £37m in 2014. Under the moniker of Mudlark Hotels, he relaunched the 49-bedroom Great House at Sonning in Berkshire in May last year following a £12m refurbishment.
Osmond also owns the 34-bedroom Newbury Manor hotel in Berkshire, which will reopen later this year following a refurbishment, and the 45-bedroom Swan at Streatley, near Reading.
What we think
Osmond has earned himself a solid reputation for taking failing hospitality businesses and turning them around.
After reading medicine at Oxford University, he worked in clubs in the US and in investment banking in Madrid, returning to the UK in 1993 to launch the £18m acquisition and flotation of PizzaExpress with Luke Johnson. During the seven years he remained on the board, it became the UK's largest and most successful sit-down casual-dining group, and the value of the company increased more than 20‐fold. In 1997 he co‐founded Punch Group and was chairman until 2001. The company was floated in 2002 with an enterprise value of £3.5b.
In 2014 Osmond led the £37m acquisition of Strada through his private equity company Sun Capital Partners with a view to rejuvenating and expanding it. Substantial changes were made to the menus, and the group moved away from frozen and pre-processed food to ingredients with an identifiable provenance.
Speaking to The Caterer in 2015, Osmond said the strategy was to refurbish the whole estate over two to three years, as well as open two or three new sites each year, with a view to expanding more rapidly further down the line alongside plans to launch another restaurant concept, a "Strada for the 2020s".
However, since the beginning of 2018, Strada has been one of the headline victims in the casual-dining crash and has closed around 14 sites, leaving it with just 13 in total, blaming "disappointing trading and rising costs". The company said it would be focusing on accelerating its Coppa Club expansion and investing in its remaining Strada portfolio.
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