IRC raises £4m for flagship growth
Individual Restaurant Company, which was taken private last year by W2D2, a business led by Iceland Foods founder and boss Malcolm Walker, said the money would support its plans to upgrade and expand existing venues.
It has begun its investment programme by splashing out on a new bar and lounge at its Piccolino restaurant in London’s Mayfair.
The Restaurant Bar & Grill on John Dalton Street, Manchester, is in line for a £750,000 revamp.
Manchester-based IRC, which raised the money through a shares offer, is looking to create additional dining capacity and a rooftop terrace at the site.
It is also drawing up plans for a £1m-plus extension and revamp of its Piccolino restaurant on Clarence Street, one of 32 venues operated by the group.
The chain, led by chief executive Steven Walker, no relation to Malcolm, was forced to put expansion plans on hold during the recession and saw its shares slide from 175p to 10p before it was taken private last July in a deal which valued it at £24m.
Steven Walker said the group had focused on customer loyalty by investing in the quality of its ingredients and service rather than discounting, as rivals have done.
He said the company was heavily criticised for not joining in the discounting trend but that its strategy had been vindicated as sales in the year to December 31 grew 7.4 per cent to £55.1m.
Mr Walker added that IRC’s loyalty scheme, through which diners accumulate points which can be redeemed against meals, has proved a success since its launch last year, with nearly 160,000 members.
Malcolm Walker, who agreed the deal for IRC from his base camp at Mount Everest when he climbed it last year, said: “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.”