Hospitality entrepreneur Luke Johnson takes a stake in Tortilla

27 February 2024 by
Hospitality entrepreneur Luke Johnson takes a stake in Tortilla

Serial hospitality investor Luke Johnson has taken a stake in the Tortilla Mexican restaurant brand.

Johnson, whose Risk Capital Partners firm backs the likes of All Star Lanes and Brighton Pier Group, acquired 1.4m shares in the group on Tuesday morning.

The move gives Johnson a 3.62% stake in the business and makes him around the 10th largest shareholder in the company.

As a publicly listed firm Tortilla does not comment on individual investors but it is understood the move is seen as a positive for the business.

Johnson drove the expansion of PizzaExpress from 12 restaurants to over 250 in the 1990s and founded the Strada Italian chain. He acquired a stake in family-friendly restaurant group Giraffe in 2004 before it was sold to Tesco for £50m in 2013 and more recently has backed Gail's bakery and caterer Genuine Dining Co.

His investment comes less than a week after Tortilla's chief executive Richard Morris announced he would step down at the end of March after three years in the role and a decade at the company.

He will be succeeded by current managing director Andy Naylor, who said the brand had "huge potential" for growth.

Tortilla was founded in 2007 and runs around 85 UK restaurants.

The burrito brand reported a loss before tax of £600,000 in the six months to 2 July 2023 after being hit by cost pressures, but revenue rose 22% to £32.7m over the same period.

Morris previously told The Caterer the results were "not a concern for the business".

This year has also seen Tortilla end its delivery partnership with Deliveroo after a review of its strategy found commission charges had "challenged margin performance".

Tortilla said it plans to continue its expansion into travel hubs this year after launching five restaurants with SSP since 2019, including venues at Manchester Piccadilly and London Euston stations.

Shares in Tortilla, which has been publicly listed since 2021, jumped 17% to 53p today following Johnson's investment.

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