Former PizzaExpress chairman Luke Johnson has acquired a majority stake in casual-dining firm Ego Group for an undisclosed sum.
Ego Group has 10 restaurants, producing a combined annual turnover of around £8m.
Ego's chairman, James Horler, who bought the business along with the rest of the company's management team in March 2008, will remain in his post.
Horler previously built up Frankie & Benny's to 65 restaurants between 1995 and 2001, and then acquired the La Tasca brand, growing it to 74 units and selling it to R20 in early 2007.
Johnson said: "To secure such a high-class and well-proven management team within the casual-dining market is very exciting. Ego gives us a solid but small platform from which to look to acquire other assets where we can leverage the management team's experience and hopefully deliver some outstanding performance over the next few years."
Johnson took control of PizzaExpress along with fellow entrepreneur and Punch Taverns co-founder Hugh Osmond in 1993, expanding the business from 12 restaurants to 250. He has also had involvement in casual-dining brands including: Belgo, My Kinda Town, Signature Restaurants, Strada, Giraffe and Patisserie Valerie.
James Horler commented: "This is a real opportunity for us to work closely with Luke and to grow the business from where it is now into a much larger company over the next few years."
By Neil Gerrard
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