CHAIRMAN of the Pelican Group, Roger Myers has described 1993 as a "fabulous year" for the company, and he was "sorry to see it go".
Mr Myers made his wistful comment last week at the Cafe Rouge in Hays Galleria, near London Bridge station, while releasing his company's financial results for the six months to 30 September 1992.
The past year has been a busy one for Pelican, which came to the stock market in late 1990. In May 1993 it bought Yankee Noodle Restaurants, operator of Mamma Amalfi and the Rock Island Diner; in September it bought Jim Thompson's Spice Islands Trading Company, a restaurant and bar operator; and in November it entered the US market with the acquisition of Cafe Tu Tu Tango, which operates two unusual restaurants in Atlanta and Miami.
The acquisitions, plus further growth of the now well-established Cafe Rouge chain, helped boost Pelican's pre-tax profits from £357,000 in 1992 to £960,000 in the six-month period last year.
Turnover grew at the 28-strong restaurant group by 74% from £3.8m to £6.7m. Earnings per share increased 3% to 1.95p although a rights issue had doubled the number of shares compared to the previous year.
Mr Myers said the results were "particularly pleasing as they include only a five month contribution from Yankee Noodle Restaurants and from Cafe Pelican which was closed for refurbishment in August".
Cafe Pelican in St Martin's Lane, London, completed its refurbishment in September and is already showing an increase of 16% in turnover compared to the corresponding period for 1992.
Mr Myers said the purchase of Robert Earl's Yankee Noodle Restaurants had brought a number of benefits, not least being the expertise and contacts of Mr Earl, founder of the Hard Rock Cafe, Planet Hollywood and arguably one of the world's most successful restaurateurs. Mr Earl is now a non-executive director of Pelican and executive director of Pelican USA.
"Tu Tu Tango was found for us by Robert Earl. We wouldn't have dreamed of getting involved in any US operation without Robert," Mr Myers said.
Yankee Noodle also brought Mamma Amalfi and the Rock Island Diner - two restaurant concepts which had "gone through the learning curve" and were now ready to be rolled out as a chain.
Pelican's core brand, Café Rouge, has grown since 1989 to 16 restaurants mainly in the London region. Pelican has exchanged contracts on three more sites and has a further three under discussion.
The north of England and Scotland are not seen as viable regions for Cafe Rouge development as there is a traditional unease about French restaurants in the North.