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Tim Bacon and Jeremy Roberts

12 May 2005

Overall ranking: 60

Restaurateurs ranking: 19

Snapshot

Tim Bacon is the managing director and Jeremy Roberts the commercial and finance director of Living Ventures, the restaurant-bar group they founded in October 1999.

The group, which employs 850 staff, runs 11 Living Room restaurant/bars in London, Birmingham, the North and Scotland. It also has two Prohibition bars (in Leeds and Manchester) and two Bar & Grill Restaurants (in London and Liverpool).

In March 2005, The Restaurant Group (TRG) bought a 40% stake in Living Ventures for £7.7m. As part of the deal, Living Ventures bought TRG's flagging Est Est Est restaurant chain for £16.4m.

Career guide
Former actor Bacon, who was born in Australia in 1964, came to the UK in 1986 to work at the Covent Garden TGI Friday's for three years. In 1989 he set up a bar and restaurant consultancy which opened the JW Johnson's bar in Manchester. Two years later, he merged with the Celebrated Group, where he became restaurant operations director.

It was here that he met Roberts, who was operations director of Celebrated's hotel division. Roberts, who was born in 1962, had trained with Trusthouse Forte, where he managed hotels in London and Manchester.

What we think

Bacon and Roberts have a history of creating and selling on successful restaurant concepts. Via Vita, a chain of eclectic Mediterranean restaurants, grew to six sites before its sale to joint partner Marston in 1998. Life Café (a cross between the Hard Rock Café, Planet Hollywood and TGI Friday's) had two branches in Liverpool and Manchester when they sold it to Whitbread in 1999.

Living Room was created as an up-tempo, multi-level, casual dining restaurant and piano bar. Different sites mix and match a number of components. The Leeds Living Room includes the more relaxed Dining Room restaurant, a members' bar called The Study and high-energy basement bar Mosquito while the Living Room and Mosquito bar in Newcastle is sited in Niche Hotel's new boutique property where the group also handles all hotel catering.

In the year to 31 March 2004, Living Ventures generated earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of £2.2m (before opening costs) on a turnover of £19.5m. All-day trading creates average weekly sales of £45,000 per restaurant

Bacon and Roberts plan to expand Living Room to 25 sites and have four openings planned for 2005 in London, Oxford and Cambridge, along with three or more bar concepts and more Bar & Grills.

This will be aided by the TRG deal, which follows the collapse of merger talks with the three-strong Bank Restaurants group in July 2004.

TRG was attracted by Living Ventures' sales progress, its roll-out potential and the founders' entrepreneurial flair, operational skills and marketing expertise. The agreement gives TRG the option to buy the remaining shares in 2008 and to buy back Est Est Est if they do not exercise this right. Living Ventures intends to redefine the 19-strong chain as "an aspirational, high-quality brand".

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Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

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