Sir Terence Conran

12 May 2005
Sir Terence Conran

Overall ranking: 6

<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?> Restaurateur ranking: 1


Sir Terence Conran is the chairman and founder of both Conran Holdings (the parent company for his restaurant and retail interests) and his design and architectural practice Conran & Partners.

Conran Restaurants owns 35 restaurants, including four overseas in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>

Paris, Stockholm and New York. The six UK restaurants that are not in London are sited in Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow. The Conran group also holds a 50% stake in London's five-star Great Eastern hotel (which houses seven Conran restaurants and bars) and a 25% stake in the Bank Restaurant Group. Career guideConran, who was born in 1931, set up his own furniture-making business in 1952. This evolved into Conran & Partners, which helps design all Conran projects. He opened his first London restaurant, the Soup Kitchen, in 1953, followed by the Orrery in 1954 and the Neal Street Restaurant in 1971. His current restaurant empire kicked off with the opening of Bibendum in 1987.  What we think Conran, who was knighted in 1983, has exerted a major influence on the way we eat, dress and decorate our homes.  His stylish mid-market restaurants revolutionised the London eating scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s. They marked a reaction against the excesses of nouvelle cuisine and made dining out cheaper and more accessible without compromising quality. Their often massive size has inspired the rise of the gastropubs.  The Butlers Wharf gastrodome - which combined the Le Pont de la Tour, Cantina del Ponte and the Butlers Wharf Chophouse restaurants with a food store, a wine merchant, an oil and spice shop and a bakery - now serves 1,000 people a day. The former Mezzo gastrodome could seat 750 at a time.  These bustling restaurants thrived in the midst of recession and helped build London's reputation as a gastronomic centre. This achievement won Conran the Catey Restaurateur of the Year award in 1994, followed in 1998 by a Catey Special Award and an Outstanding Contribution award from the English Tourist Board.  Conran has opened new restaurants on a regular basis and, except for the six Zinc Bar and Grills, each is unique, with no sense of branding or formula. They cover a broad spread of styles and cuisines ranging from British, European, French, Italian and Spanish to Cuban, and Japanese. The Orrery in Marylebone has held a Michelin star since 2000.  Conran is also respected for helping set up the ButlersWharfChefSchool in 1995, which trained more than 1,000 student chefs before closing in 2001.  The UK and European restaurants performed well in the year to March 2004, boosting pre-tax profits by 11% to £4.1m on turnover 4% ahead at £54m. However, a Manhattan restaurateur has been called in to manage the struggling New York venue.  The group will open add new dining facilities to the Royal Exchange in London and is looking at potential sites in Dublin. It has also formed a joint venture with restaurant group Hiramatsu to develop a chain of 10 European-style restaurants in Japan. The first opens in Tokyo in early 2007.
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