Casual Dining Group (CDG), the operator of Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge, has reached agreement to acquire the premium Latin American brand, 41-strong Las Iguanas restaurant business from mid-market private equity firm Bowmark Capital.
The combination of Las Iguanas with CDG’s existing operations creates a business comprising 250 restaurants, fortifying the group’s position as the UK’s leading independent casual dining business. Importantly, the deal further accelerates CDG’s growth trajectory: the enlarged group plans to open 30 new sites over the next 10 months.
Commenting on the acquisition, Steve Richards, CEO of CDG, said: “Las Iguanas is a proven, high-quality restaurant business that has been carefully developed over 25 years. It is clearly differentiated and is positioned for significant further growth. It fits perfectly with our strategy to create a scalable restaurant group comprising compelling brands, with broad appeal, which deliver industry-leading consumer and financial metrics.”
Las Iguanas is known for its authentic South American dishes and range of premium cocktails, and is popular with young professionals and families. It is a national restaurant brand, with sites located from Aberdeen to Plymouth, and trades predominantly on the high street but also on leisure parks and in retail locations.
Mos Shamel, the CEO of Las Iguanas, will join the CDG board and will continue to lead and develop Las Iguanas. Shamel has worked at Las Iguanas for 12 years, in various roles, having joined when the business comprised just six sites. He said: “This is a great result for Las Iguanas, which is a hugely successful business, and I’m looking forward to the next stage of its development and growth as part of CDG.”
Martin Robinson, Chairman of CDG, added: “This is another significant step in delivering on our vision of creating the UK’s leading casual dining group. We are delighted to welcome Mos, who with founder Eren Ali, has developed an outstanding brand that is much loved by its customers.”
The Casual Dining Group
The Casual Dining Groupis one of the largest casual dining restaurant operators in the UK, with 250 sites located across the country. The Casual Dining Groupoperates primarily under the Bella Italia, Café Rouge and Las Iguanas formats in the UK.
Café Rouge is a 90-strong chain of Parisian-style bistros, with a menu that includes bistro classics such as steak frites and tarte tatin. Café Rouge is predominantly a high street brand but also operates successfully in shopping centres, airports and transport hubs. The first of many planned international sites opened earlier this year, in Dubai.
Bella Italia is a 90-strong chain of all-day, Italian restaurants popular with families and regular diners. Its restaurants are in prime locations on UK high streets, leisure parks and retail hubs. In addition to classic pizzas and pasta its broad menu also includes a range of grilled main courses and salads.
Las Iguanas is a 41-strong chain of authentic Latin American restaurants popular with young professionals, aged 24-35. With Spanish, Portuguese and African influences, the menu combines a wide range of authentic dishes with modern classics such as sirloin steaks and burgers. Also known for its range of premium cocktails, the brand is located in urban environments such as town centres and mixed-use retail and leisure developments.
The portfolio also includes concessions at Heathrow and at Center Parcs. The Casual Dining Group also operates brasseries under the brands Huxleys, Belgo, Oriel and La Salle.