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Simon Kossoff

21 September 2006

Overall ranking: 17 (New entry)

Restaurateurs' ranking: 6

Simon Kossoff is the managing director of Carluccio's Caffés, the rapidly-growing chain of Italian cafés each of which is coupled with an Italian grocer and a deli.

It now operates nearly 30 venues across London and the South East of England that employ in excess of 1,100 staff.

The group serves 70,000 café customers and 24,000 retail shoppers each week and achieved a £3.5m profit on a £36.8m turnover for the year to September 2005.

The deli-café concept was the brainchild of Priscilla Carluccio, the wife of Italian celebrity chef Antonio Carluccio.

Simon Kossoff - Career guide
Simon Kossoff, who is now 46, is an economics graduate of York University and a postgraduate of Manchester Polytechnic.

He started his career at PizzaExpress before joining the My Kinda Town group in 1986 where he took on a string of management positions in London, Manchester and Glasgow.

The group promoted him to UK operations director in 1993 and UK managing director in 1995.

Kossoff was working as a consultant to several major hotel and restaurant businesses when he met Priscilla in 1998 and helped develop the deli café concept. The business was launched as a joint venture between the Carluccio's and the management team of Kossoff and former My Kinda Town directors Stephen Gee and Peter Webber.

After raising £2m to fund their first three London café delis, the group opened its first branch in London's Market Place in November 1999.

The group floated on the Alternative Investment Market in December 2005 at a market value of £53.6m, when the Carluccios stepped back to become part-time consultants on design and food issues.

Simon Kossoff - What we think
The seeds of Carluccio's Caffés were planted back in 1991 when Priscilla opened the Carluccio's food shop and deli next door to Antonio's fine-dining Neal Street restaurant in Covent Garden, which was followed by a wholesale arm selling a range of Carluccio-branded regional foods and fungi from Italy.

Priscilla detected a gap in the market for a chain of restaurants with adjacent shops (such hybrids had existed to date only as isolated individuals) combined with an opportunity to take the Carluccio's brand to a wider audience in a more informal setting.

Kossoff has headed up the operational aspects from day one, with Priscilla overseeing plans and designs and Antonio handling menus and staff training.

The combination of café-deli-grocer with an all-day opening policy (from 8am to 11pm) has proved a stunningly winning formula.

Café sales outside normal business hours and retail sales now account for nearly 50% of turnover, helping to boost average store turnover per year to more than £1.7m.

The fact that stores are cash-generative from day one allows the group to target higher-rated premises that competitors ignore and to achieve an impressive average cash return on investment of 60%.

Attention to detail and standards has also fuelled the group's success. Many of the chefs have graduated from the Chef School that Antonio set up in 2003 with Westminster Kingsway College and the group runs more than 24 different training courses for staff at all levels.

The multi-faceted approach is reflected in the variety of recent accolades won - Best Breakfast in the Observer food magazine awards in 2006, inclusion in
The Grocer's Top 10 World's Finest Specialist Food Retailers, and a Best Use of Technology award for supporting systems and controls in the Sunday Times Fast Track awards.

Carluccio's Caffés have featured in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 for the past three years.

Kossoff plans to open around five to six new stores a year (all funded, like their predecessors, from existing cash flow). The focus will remain on the South East but Kossoff plans to gradually expand to other sites throughout the country.

The group boosted both turnover and Ebitda by 21% (to £21.6m and £2.6m respectively) in the half-year to March 2006.

Simon Kossoff - Further information

Carluccio profile on CatererSearch

Carluccio official website

Read more about the CatererSearch 100, the list of the most influential people here

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