Luke Johnson, a hospitality mogul, has turned out to be one of the bidders for Gaucho, a steak restaurant chain after the group went into administration last July.
Johnson is currently serving as the chairman of Patisserie Valerie. Sky News reported that he is included among a small number of potential buyers which also includes Carlyle, a buyout firm, and Aurelius Equity Opportunities, an investor.
The investment career of Johnson has spanned to various household names in the leisure and hospitality industry, including Giraffe and Pizza Express.
Johnson also served as the chairman of Gaucho from April 2016 until November 2017, when Paul Mason, the former chief executive of Asda, took his place in the company.
He is one of the most successful restaurant investors in the United Kingdom. A significant proportion of his wealth is tied up in food-service businesses such as the listed owner of the Patisserie Valerie chain, Patisserie Holdings, and the owner of Gail’s chain of bakeries, Bread Holdings.
The sale of Gaucho is being overseen by Deloitte, which will try to look for a new owner for the core chain of restaurants after KPMG, its former advisers, were not able to sell the larger group, which included the Cau brand. All of the restaurants of Cau have now been shut down.
Other bidders that were previously tied to the process included the former Pizza Express business partner of Johnson and restaurateur, Hugh Osmond, However, Osmond is not perceived to be an active bidder during the current phase.
Equistone Partners, the former owner, of Gaucho, paid £100 million for a cut of the business in 2016. However, it is not believed to be attempting to buy the company back at this stage.
Johnson was not able to be reached for a comment regarding the matter. However, he is thought to be eager to retain the entire Gaucho chain, which has been affected by a drop in sales amid a difficult casual dining market.