Overall ranking: 7 (11 in 2012)
Restaurateur ranking: 1 (3 in 2012)
What we think There are serial deal makers, and then there is Richard Caring. The speed with which he moved into the hospitality industry in 2004 certainly raised eyebrows. Within three years, he had bought the Camden Market complex for £45m, Wentworth golf club for £130m, Caprice Holdings for £31.5m, the Birley Group for £95m and Signature Restaurants (owners of Belgo and Strada) for £57m, as well as stakes in Bill's and Carluccio's.
Anyone thinking that the pace of his deal-making might slow were far from the mark. After offloading his interests in Strada and Carluccio's, in 2008 he agreed a leveraged buyout of 28 small investors in private members' club Soho House, taking 80% for £105m, with the remainder held by founder Nick Jones. Both partners then sold a majority of their stakeholding to American billionaire Ron Burkle in 2012 (the deal netted Caring £60m and left him with 30% of the group) so they could concentrate on driving overseas growth. In 2015, he sold Côte, the mid-market French brasserie chain he founded in 2007, for £100m, and his all-day American concept Jackson & Rye to Côte's new owners the following year.
His breathless empire building continues. Today, his three-pronged assault on the industry involves the gradual addition to his fine-dining empire with new openings such as 2015's Sexy Fish in London's Mayfair, and the rapid expansion of all-day casual-dining restaurant Bill's, as well as his Ivy Café and Ivy Brasserie concepts. Based on Caprice Holdings' iconic restaurant, the new Ivy restaurants now total 15 across the UK with a further seven in the pipeline. Director of operations Yishay Malkov told The Caterer in 2017 that the aim is to have rolled out 30 across the UK by the end of 2018. Meanwhile, Bill's has opened around 70 new sites in the UK over the last four years, and turnover is up 21% to £111m in 2016.
In December 2017 Caring opened the first of a new Italian restaurant brand, Harry's Dolce Vita, in London's Knightsbridge, with a nod to the original Harry's Dolci café in Venice. This year, his focus has been on the £55m relaunch of the sumptuous private members' club Annabel's in Berkeley Square.
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