THE CHAIN behind the Restaurant Bar and Grill and Piccolino brands is to invest £4m in expansion plans and refurbishing its existing portfolio after a successful fundraising.
Individual Restaurant Company (IRC) runs 33 sites across the country, including a Restaurant Bar and Grill in Liverpool’s Brunswick Street and a Piccolino’s in nearby Cook Street.
It is owned by W2D2, chaired by Iceland Foods chairman and chief executive Malcolm Walker, which took IRC private last year.
Mr Walker regained control of his Iceland Foods business last month in a £1.5bn deal with the liquidators of Landsbanki Islands, the Icelandic banks which owned a 77% stake in the Deeside-based supermarket chain.
The IRC money was raised through a four-for-three open offer of new shares and the growth programme has already begun with the opening last week of a new cicchetti (small snacks) bar and late lounge at IRC’s central London Piccolino restaurant.
Piccolino Heddon Street has become the group’s first restaurant to open throughout the day for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late lounge.
IRC chief executive Steven Walker, who is unrelated to Malcolm Walker, said the group put its opening programme on hold when the downturn hit in 2008.
“We saw our shares slide from £1.75 to just 10p, even though profits only fell from £5.3m at their peak in 2008 to £4.3m in 2010. Banks did not want to lend and we concluded the only sensible strategy was to take the business private in order to return it to growth.”
The W2D2 deal in July 2011 valued IRC at an enterprise value of £24m and Mr Walker said: “It’s great being private again.
“What’s more, there is good evidence that our strategy is already paying off, with sales in our last financial year to December 31, 2011 growing by 7.4% to £55.1m.”
Malcolm Walker added: “Although my main focus is obviously going to be on Iceland Foods after our recent £1.5bn deal to buy the company, I am very much looking forward to helping Steven and his team drive IRC forward and bring the Piccolino and Restaurant Bar & Grill brands to many more new guests across the UK.”