3rd June 2017
D&D London chairman and chief executive Des Gunewardena has said the eating-out market still has long-term growth as he looks to build a 50-strong restaurant portfolio in the UK. Gunewardena added the company, which has 29 restaurants in London and eight outside the capital, also plans to add to its sites overseas.
“D&D’s expansion has increased partly because we’re a bigger company now so we are making more cash, which is obviously needed to open new restaurants, and partly because we still believe the eating-out market in London and elsewhere is a long-term growth market. Whatever happens with Brexit, we think London will remain a great place to run restaurants,” adding, “Paddington is an interesting area. It’s very central but hasn’t really blossomed. That could finally be on the cards with the effect of Crossrail and the eventual expansion of Heathrow. Down south there are interesting areas around Canada Water. One day we would like to open a really bold, buzzy Indian restaurant, and perhaps a Chinese and more Japanese restaurants. These cuisines have become very popular and at the top end I think there is still a shortage of those restaurants compared with demand.”
Gunewardena said the company also planned to roll-out its Bluebird Cafe concept more widely, with hopes to have “three or four” by this time next year. He added the biggest thing with Brexit for the company was staff. He said: “Dream on if you think London and the UK can continue to grow and not have staff from overseas’. It is just not possible. However, I am optimistic at the end of the day common sense will prevail.”