Casual dining operator
Transaction value
€1,335 million
Nov 2006/Jan 2007
Jan 2015

Cinven acquired Gondola Holdings in a public to private transaction for €1,335m. Gondola is the market leader in the UK casual dining sector, operating PizzaExpress, ASK, Zizzi and BYRON (until the disposal of BYRON in October 2013), together with a number of smaller brands. The Group employs over 15,000 people, serving 40 million meals a year in over 690 restaurants.

Gondola was formed through the acquisition of PizzaExpress, in 2003, and of ASK the following year.

Gondola's success is based on its strong core estate, which shows resilience and unexploited potential. Cinven has developed a three-tiered strategy to support further growth and development:

  • further focus on the core business with the rigorous application of best practice and ‘restaurant basics’ across the whole estate;
  • organic growth through the roll-out of existing formats; and
  • extending the Group’s market leadership through new format launches or acquisitions.

Cinven moved quickly to put in place revised capital and management structures to help Gondola reach its full potential. The roll-out programme was accelerated, and a new brand, BYRON, developed with significant growth potential. In 2010, Cinven negotiated the acquisition of the international franchise business of PizzaExpress, after which it worked closely with management to accelerate the growth of the brand in existing and new markets (including China).

In October 2013, Gondola and Hutton Collins announced that they had reached agreement for Hutton Collins to acquire Byron, the UK burger restaurant chain, for a consideration of £100m

In July 2014, Gondola announced that they had reached agreement with Hony Capital, on the sale of PizzaExpress, for a consideration of approximately £900 million.

In December 2014, Gondola announced that it had agreed the sale of ASK and Zizzi to Bridgepoint for a consideration of £250 million. The transaction completed in January 2015. This transaction represented Cinven's complete exit from its investment in the Gondola Group, the market leader in the UK casual dining sector, and brought the total sale proceeds to approximately £1.3 billion, generating a money multiple of 2.4 times.