Andrew Page

21 September 2006
Andrew Page

Overall ranking: 6 (new entrant)
Restaurateurs ranking: 1 (new entrant)

Andrew Page is chief executive of The Restaurant Group (TRG) which was known as City Centre Restaurants (CCR) until January 2004.

TRG is the UK's fifth largest restaurant group and it serves more than 25 million meals a year through more than 260 restaurants. They operate under four key brands - Frankie & Benny's, Chiquito, Garfunkel's and Blubeckers - mostly in edge-of-town or out-of-town locations near leisure facilities.

Its concessions division runs 43 outlets in airports and railway stations of which some, including Caffé Uno, run under franchise.

The group also owns a 40% stake in restaurant and bar operator Living Ventures, which has taken on its ailing Est Est Est chain to revitalise.

Andrew Page - Career guide
Andrew Page qualified as a chartered accountant with KPMG and gained experience with County, NatWest's corporate advisory department before spending six years as a corporate financier with Kleinwort Benson.

He moved into the leisure sector in 1994 as senior vice-president of corporate finance for InterContinental Hotels Group and served as finance director at Peter Eyles' Hanover International from 1998 to 1999. After a stint as finance director and chairman of the investment committee at Greenchips Investment, Page became finance director of CCR in June 2001.

Page was promoted to group managing director in December 2003 when chief executive Andrew Guy moved on, and rose to chief executive in January 2006 when executive chairman Alan Jackson moved to a non-executive role.

Andrew Page - What we think
Andrew Page, with the support of new executive chairman Alan Jackson, turned TRG around from an unfocused company in poor financial shape into a stock market darling in just three years.

In 2001, the group streamlined its brand line-up when it offloaded its struggling Deep Pan Pizza, OK Diner and Wok Wok chains and switched its focus away from the competitive high street to the more robust leisure park and concessions sectors.

Page put the emphasis on cash-flow and generating returns, halted an overseas expansion strategy, and refocused the Chiquito brand away from a "let's-go-out-and-get-pissed-on-slammers" clientele towards the family market.

The changes brought record pre-tax profits for the year to 31 December 2004, up 28% to £21m on sales of £255.4m. The following year, the group turned in a profit of £32.3m on sales of £302.3m.

The refocused group started to look around for new brands but a friendly £168m takeover of Ask Central was rudely interrupted in January 2004 by a £223m bid from the owners of Nando's and PizzaExpress.

2005 saw a radical overhaul of the group's structure as it exited the overcrowded high-street pizza and pasta market.

The first disposal came in March 2005, when TRG bought a 40% stake in Living Ventures, which operated 11 Living Room restaurant/bars, two Prohibition bars (since sold) and two Bar & Grill restaurants. The deal, which gave TRG the option to buy the remaining 60% in 2008, involved Living Ventures buying TGR's 19 ailing Est Est Est restaurants.

Eight months later, in November, Page offloaded 53 of the group's 58 Caffé Unos to Paramount Restaurants for £33m, returning £35m to shareholders.

In between, the group snapped up 17 restaurants from CI Traders for £27m which operated mostly under the Blubeckers brand in semi-rural locations within the M25. And this January, it exercised its option to buy back the struggling Deep Pan Pizza business, now with 33 venues which will mostly be rebranded by the end of the year. It has already transformed nine of these sites into a smaller Frankie & Benny's format, Little Frankie's, which cost a third of the price to convert.

The group plans to open up to 30 new branches this year.

TRG was the only dedicated restaurant operator to appear in the 2004 and 2005 Britain's Most Admired Company pan-industry top 220, where it took the 105th and 110th positions respectively.

Andrew Page - Further information

The Restaurant Group official website -

The Restaurant Group on Google

Read more about the CatererSearch 100, the list of the most influential people here

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