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Clapham House urged to narrow its brand focus

20 March 2008 by

Clapham House Group (CHG) has been urged to separate its flagship Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) brand from its other weaker-performing chains, such as Tootsies and Real Greek.

The poor performance of Tootsies in its high-street and shopping-centre locations saw CHG's share price fall by 40% in December 2007.

CHG is believed to have received three separate offers for the Tootsies business, while Gondola Holdings, the Pizza Express, Ask and Zizzi's owner, has approached CHG about the possibility of buying GBK. David Page, executive chairman of CHG, and chief executive Paul Campbell were formerly executives at PizzaExpress.

Meanwhile, Capricorn Ventures International (CVI), the private equity firm behind high-street chicken chain Nando's, continues to build on its stake in the business, which currently stands at 24.93%. Speculation persists that CVI is preparing to mount a bid after taking advantage of CHG's relatively low share price.

James Dawson, analyst at Charles Stanley Securities, warned that stake-building by CVI would force the management of the company to "seriously consider" what it wanted to do with Tootsies.

"Clearly, they have a good brand with GBK, and we would rather see full emphasis and execution behind that brand," he told Caterer. "Bombay Bicycle has promise, while there is a debate about how good Real Greek really is. Tootsies is a real problem. To realise the true value of the business they have to split GBK apart from the rest of the business."

CHG currently operates 90 restaurants but is scaling back its expansion plans for GBK following the poor performance at Tootsies.

Clapham House Group confident of Gourmet Burger Kitchen success >>Clapham House admits concerns about uncertain economy >>By Christopher Walton

E-mail your comments to Christopher Walton here.

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