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November 23, 2021
Last week, The Big Table Group announced a £53million investment into its restaurants. This is big news for the commercial real estate sector, after more than 18 months of tenants asking for Covid-related lease/rent reductions and outlet closures. The Big Table Group’s announcement suggests strong confidence in the sector’s recovery as the company would like to open more venues.

Background

Pre-pandemic, the Casual Dining Group (also formerly known as The Tragus Group), operated over 250 UK restaurants across its brands, spearheaded by Bella Italia, Las Iguanas and Café Rouge outlets. The Group struggled as the pandemic forced restaurant closures, and was placed into administration in July 2020. 91 outlets were set to close and 1900 jobs predicted to be lost.

The Group was acquired out of administration by Private Equity firm Epiris in August 2020 for £18million, and has since rebranded as The Big Table Group. The outfit currently operates more than 150 restaurants across the UK and Ireland, including a number of concession sites in Center Parcs.

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New Outlets

In October, The Big Table Group committed to a £35million investment in new openings and a further £19million in refurbishing existing venues. It is estimated that over 1,000 jobs will be created.

The Group has planned 50 new outlets to be unveiled over the next three years, allocating 25 of these to Latin American-themed restaurant Las Iguanas. The first outlet was re-opened in Plymouth earlier this month, and a new outlet is scheduled in the coming weeks in Southampton. The new outlets represent a combination of newly and previously acquired sites.

The Big Table Group’s Managing Partner Alex Fortescue has stated that ‘we are the best capitalised restaurant group in the UK’ and argued that makes for ‘a compelling partner for landlords’.

Earlier this month, the group opened its first delivery-only space in Battersea, with a further dark kitchen planned for Birmingham, selling menu items from its main brands: Bella Italia, Las Iguanas and Café Rouge.

Talking points:

  • How can commercial real estate incentivise the hospitality sector to open new outlets?
  • What opportunities and risks do dark kitchens post for hospitality companies such as The Big Table Group?
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