CDG estate ‘unrecognisable’ from three years ago as it eyes 90 new restaurants

Bella Italia Beckton 2

The Casual Dining Group (CDG) is planning to launch 90 new restaurants between now and the end of 2018, including 37 this year alone, as it continues the huge investment in its estate.

CDG presently operates 302 restaurants in the UK, which isn’t too many more from the number it acquired from Tragus three years ago. However, this figure disguises the true extent of the restructuring that has taken place.

In that time the Strada business has been offloaded, the acquisitions of Las Iguanas and La Tasca have taken place and a huge chunk of the rest of the estate it inherited has been reformatted, with large investment into its flagship Bella Italia and Café Rouge sites.

“If somebody from what was Tragus three years ago walked into Casual Dining Group today, they would only actually recognise 42 sites because everything else has been rebranded, sold or is completely new,” said CEO Steve Richards. “And of those 42 sites that are still in the same brand or format as they were three years ago, we will be working on either changing them into something or reinvigorating them over the next 12 months.Steve Richards, CEO

“So change has gone all the way through the business. It wasn’t a top down process — it was all about building the business up from the bottom up. So when we talk about the transformation of a business at granular level this is what we mean.”

Over the next 12 months, CDG plans to create 4,000 new jobs on the back of opening 37 new sites across the UK and carrying out 40 major refurbishments. It predicts that its profits will more than double over the next two years.

Richards, who was speaking at the recent Casual Dining Show, said many of its new sites this year would be in leisure parks, next to cinema centres, as well as in transport hubs and prime locations on the high street.

The group is also working hard to grow its footprint outside of London, with a string of large investments been made in the Midlands and north of England as it builds out geographically, he said.

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