Overall ranking: 76 (new entry)
Restaurateur ranking: 23 (new entry)
Snapshot As chief executive of Prezzo, Jon Hendry-Pickup sits at the helm of one of the UK's most established casual dining groups. However, the fortunes of the company have dramatically changed this year as it has become one of the major casualties of the downturn in the performance of the casual-dining sector as the result of tough trading conditions and rising costs. While turnover for the group increased 2% to £219m during 2016, with a pre-tax profit of £5m, a difficult 2017 resulted in the company seeking a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) in March 2018 and the closure of 94 sites, taking the portfolio down to 208. The move included the complete closure of the group's Tex-Mex brand Chimichanga and the Mexico collection of three restaurants.
What we think When Prezzo hired Hendry-Pickup in 2016, following a hunt for a chief executive that had lasted since the £304m acquisition of the business by private equity firm TPG Capital in January 2015, it showed that the group was willing to wait to get their man. And few would argue that he was a perfect fit. Six years as chief operating officer at Travelodge had given him the perfect mix of customer experience and multi-site operational expertise to lead the group forward.
After a degree in economics from York University and an MBA from the University of Warwick, Hendry-Pickup spent six years at Aldi, rising to become finance and administration director, before a short spell at Michelin. Seven years at Tesco followed, latterly as an operations director for the Czech Republic and Slovakia, before former Travelodge chief executive Grant Hearn poached him to become chief operating officer at the budget hotel chain. Following Prezzo's acquisition, co-founder Jonathan Kaye moved to a non-executive role and Hendry-Pickup came in as a chief executive, tasked with growing the chain's footprint in an ever-competitive market.
The group, which was founded in 2000, had grown to around 300 sites, but is now down to 208 following the CVA. During his first year in the job, Hendry-Pickup oversaw the opening of 21 sites and initially put 10% of its restaurants up for sale where trading was not in line with the rest of its portfolio. Prior to the CVA, Prezzo had been opening around 20 sites annually, but it remains to be seen how the future for the group will play out. Also unknown is how a brand refresh, introduced with the relaunch of its Winchester site, will proceed.
Despite a tough 12 months, Prezzo remains a major player in the UK casual-dining sector.
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