Des Gunewardena to leave D&D London after 16 years

30 September 2022 by
Des Gunewardena to leave D&D London after 16 years

Des Gunewardena, co-founder and chief executive of D&D London for the past 16 years, has left the restaurant group "to pursue other ventures".

David Loewi, co-founder, chief operating officer and deputy chairman of D&D during that time, has been appointed as interim chief executive of the business.

Loewi and Gunewardena founded D&D in 2006 from Conran Restaurants, where they worked together. Since then, the pair have expanded D&D's portfolio to 40 restaurants across the UK and internationally, including London's Le Pont de la Tour in Tower Bridge and Coq d'Argent in Bank.

The group also has restaurants in Manchester, Leeds and Bristol and is due to launch Orelle, an 88-cover modern French restaurant, café and bar, in Birmingham on 14 October.

Gunewardena said: "I am very sad to be leaving D&D which I love and have seen grow from its first restaurant opening over 30 years ago in its Conran days to the fabulous business it is today. Though I will now be focusing on existing and new ventures outside D&D I wish David and the management team every success for the future."

For the 15 months since April 2021, D&D's group revenues were at £163m, with trading at 90% of pre-Covid levels. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization were £17m.

Loewi added: "Our restaurants are trading well as the UK leisure and hospitality scene recovers with workers returning to offices and business travel coming back. This resilience has enabled our group to retain a strong cash position and financial headroom.

"However, we are also acutely aware of the challenging economic environment, particularly for our industry in the face of inflation and skills shortages, and so remain pragmatic over the outlook for sector and continuously keep our operations and strategy under review.

"Des has been an important part of D&D London's success and history, and we wish him all the best for the future."

The move comes after it was revealed that Baton Berisha, former managing director of D&D, was poached by rival restaurant company the Wolseley Hospitality Group three months after he joined the business.

In April this year, Sky News reported that D&D London was exploring a possible sale for £100m.

Pictured: Des Gunewardena (L) and David Loewi (R)

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