News & Updates


14 September 2020

Mike Tye appointed as chairman of The Big Table

The Big Table, which was recently formed to acquire and operate the Bella Italia, Café Rouge and Las Iguanas restaurant brands, has appointed Mike Tye as its non-executive chairman.

With extensive board-level experience across the out-of-home food and drink market, Tye will work closely with Epiris, the private equity firm which supported the acquisition in August, and a senior management team led by CEO James Spragg and CFO Adrian Walker.

Tye has more than 30 years’ board and leadership experience in the UK restaurant and eating-out market. He is currently chairman of private equity-backed Moto Hospitality, and of privately-owned Haulfryn Group and vice-chairman of Prostate Cancer UK. He is former CEO of Spirit Group and recently stepped down as a non-executive director of The Restaurant Group PLC. Additionally, he has led Costa Coffee, David Lloyd Leisure and Premier Travel Inn. Mike also sits on the Council of UK Hospitality.

Commenting on the appointment, Epiris Managing Partner Alex Fortescue said: “We’re delighted to be working with Mike. There are very few individuals in the UK leisure and hospitality market with Mike’s accomplishments, standing and experience, and we are confident he will be a tremendous asset to James and the team at The Big Table.”

Tye commented: “With a talented management team in place and supportive, experienced investors, The Big Table represents an exceptional opportunity to build a first-class UK restaurant business. These are challenging times, but this is a strong business with brands that are popular with customers, and it is well placed to overcome the current uncertainty and deliver growth over the years ahead.” The Big Table comprises over 150 restaurants across its three core brands and its formation safeguarded more than 4,000 jobs across the UK. Epiris’ investment in the business has enabled it to reopen its restaurants over the past month. Around 140 sites are now welcoming guests, with the remaining openings planned for the coming weeks.

01 August 2020

Epiris backs management to emerge as new owners of Las Iguanas, Bella Italia and Café Rouge restaurant businesses

A new business formed by private equity firm Epiris has successfully concluded a deal to take control of the Las Iguanas, Bella Italia and Café Rouge restaurant businesses, in concert with the existing management team led by CEO James Spragg.

In a process handled by AlixPartners, the business formerly known as Casual Dining Group (CDG) was acquired from administration, preserving more than 4,000 jobs across the UK and over 150 restaurants trading as Las Iguanas, Bella Italia and Café Rouge.

The new business, through which Epiris has made the acquisition, is to be called The Big Table.

Epiris has invested significant cash into the business to help spark a rapid unlocking of the group’s operations, with its restaurant businesses starting to reopen across the UK next week. It has also made a further commitment for future funding. The new business will carry no external debt.

James Spragg commented: "This is a very positive outcome for the business. We are delighted to have concluded this process and to be working with such experienced and knowledgeable investors. We inevitably emerge from this process as a leaner business, and one that is now equipped to navigate the challenges the industry faces, safeguarding thousands of jobs."

Ian Wood, Partner at Epiris, said: "In common with most of the sector, The Big Table’s restaurants have been closed since late March. We will work with James and his team to re-open the restaurants, bringing over 4,000 people off furlough to enable customers to enjoy dining out again. This transaction will enable the business to trade through the uncertain months ahead and invest in its three strong brands to deliver an even better experience for their customers."

Clare Kennedy of AlixPartners added: "We received a significant level of interest in the group which is a testament to the strength of its management team, the affection in which its brands are held by the public and the quality of its people. We are extremely pleased to have been able to help the group find a new investment partner with such strong industry credentials and we wish both parties and everybody who works at The Big Table all the very best for a successful future."

The management team, led by Spragg, with Adrian Walker as CFO, will look to reopen the business over the coming months and build on the robust financial performance it was delivering before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. The group plans to open as many restaurants as possible during August – in time to get behind the UK Government’s national Eat Out to Help Out initiative.

The new Big Table moniker is a reference to a far-reaching internal culture programme at the former CDG business that championed togetherness, diversity and inclusivity amongst all members of its business.

Spragg added: "This has been an extremely difficult and unsettling time for our teams and we’re pleased to now be planning to reopen our doors and re-focus our attention on what we do best, creating great experiences for our guests."

The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

About Epiris

Epiris is a top-decile* private equity firm which invests in opportunities to transform businesses in partnership with exceptional management teams. It targets control positions in UK-headquartered businesses with an enterprise value of between £75 million and £500 million, deploying between £40 million and £150 million of equity.

For further information, please visit www.epiris.co.uk.

Epiris is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

*As at 30 March 2020. Gross IRR does not reflect adjustments for investment management and administration costs. Comparator data supplied by Preqin. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

15 May 2020

Las Iguanas delivers hot meals to frontline workers

Las Iguanas, part of Casual Dining Group, has joined the Feed Our Frontline campaign and will be providing 1,800 hot meals a week for NHS workers at the Birmingham Heartlands and Queen Elizabeth hospitals.

The initiative, which will operate out of the company’s Temple Street branch in Birmingham, will see meals delivered three days a week starting from the 12 May. The meals include a range of the Latin American restaurant’s popular dishes, such as: Vegan and Beef Chillies; Burritos; and Brazilian Curries.

The restaurant has put a range of strict extra procedures in place to ensure the safety of all team members involved, which includes social distancing measures between staff and delivery drivers, contact-free handover of prepared meals, and regular sanitisation of the pass.

Feed Our Frontline brings together a coalition of well-known restaurants and food providers to provide free meals for frontline NHS workers who are battling the Covid-19 pandemic. It is funded by the FeedNHS initiative launched by Damian Lewis and Matt Lucas, and currently serves over 10,000 meals a day across the UK.

Julie McEwan, Brand Director at Las Iguanas, commented: “Feed our Frontline is an outstanding initiative that taps into the spirit of the hospitality industry to provide fresh food for frontline NHS workers. The whole team feel really proud to be able to give something back to NHS workers and show their appreciation at this difficult time.”

If you would like to donate to the initiative, please visit justgiving.com/fundraising/feednhs.

14 April 2020

Bella Italia commits to supporting the NHS with 1,000 free meals

Bella Italia, part of Casual Dining Group, has committed to providing 1,000 free meals to NHS staff serving on the frontline during the Coronavirus crisis this month.

Dedicated Bella Italia team members reopened the company’s South Kensington branch and began preparing freshly cooked pasta and pizza from its spring menu this week. The team are working with Deliveroo to provide the meals every week over the next month, as part of the delivery provider’s campaign to make 500,000 free meals for NHS workers.

The meal donations, which have received heartfelt praise from the West London NHS Trust, are the latest in a number of efforts Bella Italia has implemented to support the NHS. When the nationwide lock-down commenced, sites gave away their fresh food to the NHS, as well as elderly members of the communities they serve.

The restaurant has put a range of strict extra procedures in place to ensure the safety of all team members involved, which includes social distancing measures between staff and delivery drivers, contact-free handover of prepared meals, and regular sanitisation of the pass.

Lisa Gibbons, Brand Director at Bella Italia, commented: “This initiative, which the entire team has got behind, is indicative of our amazing team culture at Bella, something I’m immensely proud to be a part of. We’re delighted to contribute to this scheme and do our bit to support the NHS through these difficult and unprecedented times. As always, the safety of our team and guests is absolutely paramount, so we have taken extensive precautions and introduced new procedures and protocols to ensure that we can meet this commitment.”

Bella Italia also offers 50% off the total bill to all NHS workers and first responders, via a small number of sites that remain open for delivery via Deliveroo.

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