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The Caterer

Robby Enthoven

12 May 2005
Robby Enthoven

Overall ranking: 43

Restaurateurs ranking: 11

Snapshot

Nando's was founded in South Africa in 1987 by Fernando Duarte and Robert Brozin and has expanded worldwide through franchising. The UK company is owned by Capricorn Ventures International (which in recent years has added Ask Central and PizzaExpress to its portfolio).

Career guide

Enthoven's father opened the first UK Nando's in Ealing Common in 1992, followed by a second branch in Earls Court.

Both were struggling when Enthoven junior became managing director in 1993. Realising that the takeaway format that predominated in South Africa was not right for London, Enthoven brought in a new management team and relaunched the concept in 1995. He gave more emphasis to restaurant branding and design (sites now average 80 seats) and introduced a scheme to allow restaurant managers to become partners in the business.

What we think

Enthoven, now in his late thirties, was a self-confessed 'bum' before joining Nando's, allowing the girls of Oxford to distract him from his A-levels and spending a "very long time" doing his business degree in London. Before moving into the London property business, Enthoven took a year out to drive a lorry from London to Cape Town, South Africa.

So when his father asked him to take over the struggling Earl's Court branch, he expected his son to kill the business within six months but learn something in the process. But neither branch closed and the 'bum' turned out to be a bright and astute businessman - although his philosophy is still to have fun while making a profit.

Eleven years down the line, Robby Enthoven is in charge of a profitable, 100-strong restaurant chain and plans to open a further 20 branches in 2005.

The group's impressive expansion won Robby Enthoven the Caterer & Hotelkeeper Catey Group Restaurateur of the Year award in 2002, when the group's 50 restaurants were turning over £50m a year. "His expansion programme has been successful, and it is possible Nando's will become one of the main restaurant multiples," one Catey judge predicted.

The judges praised Enthoven's careful financial management and his ability to combine sound commercial planning with the provision of good quality, value-for-money food in a vibrant and fun environment. Most significantly, Enthoven is credited with breaking new ground by bridging the gap between fast food and traditional restaurants.

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