IRC raises £4m to expand and upgrade restaurants

19 April 2012 by
IRC raises £4m to expand and upgrade restaurants

The Individual Restaurant Company (IRC), operator of the Piccolino and Restaurant Bar & Grill chains, has raised £4m of investment.

The group, which was taken private last year by W2D2, a business led by Iceland Foods founder Malcolm Walker, said the money would support its plans to upgrade and expand existing sites.

It has kick-started its programme by adding a new bar and lounge to its Piccolino restaurant on London's Heddon Street. The revamp is being overseen by Robert Angell, who worked alongside David Collins on many of London's most prestigious restaurants, bars and hotels, including the Wolseley and Nobu, before establishing his own design practice.

IRC, headed by chief executive Steven Walker, was forced to put expansion plans on hold during the recession but was taken private last July in a deal which valued the 33-strong restaurant group at £24m.

Steven Walker said IRC had focused on customer loyalty by investing in the quality of its product instead of discounting.

"As a public company we were heavily criticised for not joining in this discounting trend, and saw our shares slide from £1.75 to just 10p, even though profits only fell from £5.3m at their peak in 2008 to £4.3m in 2010. Banks did not want to lend and we concluded that the only sensible strategy was to take the business private in order to return it to growth," Walker said.

"It's great being private again, doing the right thing by the guest, no matter what. It will always pay and be right in the long term. It sounds straightforward but very few others in our industry can look themselves in the mirror and say they live by these principles."

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By Kerstin Kühn

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