Overall ranking: 92 (new entry)
Restaurateur ranking: 27 (new entry)
Mark Derry is chief executive of the 37-strong Brasserie Bar Co, which comprises Brasserie Blanc (the French brasserie group inspired by Raymond Blanc) and the White Brasserie Company (which aims to replicate the standards of Brasserie Blanc in a pub setting). He is the former chief executive of Premium Casual Dining, which at one time owned the upmarket fish restaurant brand Loch Fyne, which grew from just one restaurant to 36 before its sale in 2007 to pub giant Greene King for £68.1m.His achievements at Loch Fyne won him the Group Restaurateur of the Year Catey in 2005. It was also the business that started him down his present path, with Loch Fyne buying the Le Petit Blanc chain of restaurants, which would later become Brasserie Blanc, out of administration in 2003. Derry and his fellow directors bought the business in a £3m management buy-out in 2006 and continued to run it after Loch Fyne's sale.
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Born in 1960, Derry moved into the catering world in 1983, when he became marketing director of the New Ventures Group at Whitbread. By 1988, he was marketing director of Whitbread's fast-growing TGI Fridays restaurant chain, before joining homeware distribution company Glenchewton in 1994, where he led the acquisition of Country Style Inns, a chain of 16 food-led pubs.
After Country Style Inns was sold for a profit to the Old English Pub Company in 1997, Derry teamed up with Ian Glyn, part of the management team at Country Style Inns, to launch Loch Fyne Restaurants as a sister company to Scottish oyster, mussels and salmon supplier Loch Fyne Oysters.
In November 2005, a refinancing deal saw private equity firm Hutton Collins buy Loch Fyne for £30m and the launch of Premium Casual Dining as a holding company under Derry.
It was there that he demonstrated his knack for growing successful, premium casual dining businesses, and he has carried that experience through the Brasserie Bar Co.
The company endured a lacklustre few years before Derry and his team hit upon the strategy in 2010 of targeting pub and bar sites as part of a nationwide expansion programme.
The idea was to take the best aspects of the upmarket Brasserie Blanc restaurants and blend them with a more relaxed, pub setting. The sites are run on a free-of-tie, leased basis. More recently, Derry has cast aside Brasserie Blanc's formal, Gallic feel in favour of a more relaxed and modern look in keeping with the changing tastes of diners.
In 2011, Derry predicted the company could grow to 40 sites within five years. He has been more or less true to his word, with the business now at 37 sites. The group is primed to expand further, after Brasserie Bar Co secured a debt finance deal worth £20m with OakNorth bank in June last year to open another 24 sites.
Despite a tough year for many in the licensed sector, the company appears to be performing well, recording a 23.7% year-on-year increase in EBITDA for the year to July 2017 to £7.3m. There was also a healthy 14% year-on-year increase in turnover to £46.8m, thanks to new openings.
Earlier this week, Derry announced that with the high street facing saturation from casual dining brands, hotels are looking likely to be the focus for Brasserie Blanc's future expansion. Operating adjacent to or in association with hotels in Bath and Cheltenham has been successful. The company has also opened within a Marriott hotel in Bournemouth and is set to operate within another in Manchester.
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