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The Caterer

Nick Basing

12 May 2005
Nick Basing

Overall ranking: 75

Restaurateurs ranking: 24

Snapshot

Nick Basing has been the group chief executive of Paramount plc since the former pub operator bought ailing restaurant group Groupe Chez Gérard in April 2003 for £15.2m. Paramount was itself bought for £28.9m in April 2005 by a group led by its chairman Guy Naggar.

Groupe Chez Gérard was founded in 1986 by Neville Abraham and Laurence Isaacson. Paramount employs nearly 700 staff and currently has 12 Parisian-style Chez Gérard restaurants, four Livebait fish restaurants, five Italian Bertorelli restaurants and one Café Fish, mostly in London.

Career guide

Basing, who was born in 1962, joined Granada in 1987 as divisional marketing manager of its bingo club division. He then held a number of marketing and sales positions at Principals Group (from 1991), the Goodwood Group (from 1992) and First Leisure Corporation (from 1993).

Between 1995 and 1999, Basing took various sales and marketing director roles at Rank Group, where he relaunched the Universal Studios theme park in Florida and relaunched the Hard Rock Café brand.

He then brought us Persil Aloe Vera as new business and innovation director at Unilever between 2000 and 2002.

Basing led the hostile takeover of Groupe Chez Gérard by Paramount and became chief executive in April 2003.

What we think
Basing has achieved a rapid turnaround in the group's fortunes. Within a year, he has doubled its share price and reversed a £230,000 pre-tax loss into a £1.8m profit for the year to 27 June 2004, which saw a 5.6% rise in turnover to £31.2m.

The group's problems, which stemmed from high debt and over-rapid expansion into sometimes poor sites, emerged when its pre-tax profits slumped by 81% in last six months of 2001 from £1.6m to £300,000. The group made a loss of £3.4m in the year to June 2002 and its share price had slumped to 61p from 350p in 1997.

The crisis prompted the return of Abraham as executive chairman in March 2002 and he hired Basing as a consultant on his turnaround plan. Moves to cut costs, downsize to 23 restaurants, lower menu prices and cut debt from £10.8m and £3.7m produced results but, by then, Basing was leading Paramount's £20.6m hostile bid in October 2002.

Abraham fought back with a management buy-out plan but could not match Paramount's final bid of £15.4m.

Basing has since closed unprofitable stores, overhauled the menus, increased the seating, reduced costs, boosted the training budget fivefold, rationalised the supplier list and improved the dining experience. The group is now resuming its nationwide roll-out of the Chez Gérard and Bertorelli brands but will not expand Café Fish or Livebait.

It is experimenting with cheaper, more informal spin-offs of its key brands. They include Deli Bertorelli, Caffé Bertorelli (in Bristol) and Le Petit Chez Gérard , a Parisian-style licensed pavement café. A fourth format, Brasserie Chez Gérard, will draw on a variety of French influences such as Moroccan tagines, open tarts from the south of France and old Orleans dishes.

Basing is also keen to expand through hotel concessions after opening a Chez Gérard in the Thistle Victoria in 2004 where the group also provides breakfast, conference and banqueting services.

Basing is also a non-executive director of food service distributor Brakes Brothers Holdings.

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