Casual Dining Group is one of the largest independent restaurant groups in the UK and run some of Britain’s best-loved brands such as Bella Italia, Café Rouge, Las Iguanas, La Tasca and Belgo.

It operates 300 restaurants across the UK, employing nearly 10,000 people and serving over 20 million meals a year. CDG has firm ambitions to become the largest casual dining business in the UK and to expand internationally. With an injection of equity investment, the management team set about pursuing this goal, through revitalisation and growth of the original brands, Bella Italia and Café Rouge, the acquisition of two competitors, Las Iguanas and La Tasca, and also opening its first international franchise businesses in Dubai and India. Project One has been working with CDG to help shape and drive the necessary business change projects to support this ambitious growth agenda.

THE CHALLENGE

CDG acquired the Latin American chain, Las Iguanas and Spanish tapas chain, La Tasca and set out to integrate both companies into CDG’s existing shared services centre within just nine months.

It was important to do this without losing the essence of the Las Iguanas brand, and whilst bringing the hearts and minds of its people on the journey. Maximising the financial value of the La Tasca acquisition required a different strategy, one of rebranding a number of its restaurants in key locations.

“While our internal team focused on the day job of growing our current businesses, we quickly realised that our six-to-nine-month timeline to integrate the two new businesses was in danger of going off track, if we tried to tackle this on the side of our desks. We simply didn’t have the necessary senior management bandwidth to do what needed to be done.”

Tim Doubleday, CFO, Casual Dining Group

THE APPROACH

“Project One quickly mobilised a team of three consultants bringing change capability, acquisition integration, IT strategy and supply chain expertise, to work alongside our existing team. Project One helped us to work through the issues, understand our requirements and help identify, on one page, the support we needed and how we’d manage it. The programme was always in control and if things were ever in danger of going off track, it was flagged and managed straight away.”

Tim Doubleday, CFO, Casual Dining Group

Three work-streams were run in parallel:

  1. Integration of the two acquired businesses
  2. Optimising the supply chain
  3. Defining a simplified and common target IT architecture and an implementation roadmap

“Our existing systems were 10 years old, whilst our competitors were using modern order-taking and integrated table management systems. Changing this situation was critical to our business. We now have a solid platform for growth that is leading edge in our industry.”

Tim Doubleday, CFO, Casual Dining Group

THE OUTCOME

  • Revenue growth – increased CDG restaurant footprint by 50% across the UK
  • Reduced overhead costs through streamlining the central functions and systems
  • Strong like-for-like sales growth, significantly outperforming the industry average
  • Margin improvement through enhanced buying terms with suppliers
  • Harmonised employee benefits, conditions of employment and pay cycles

“The business has gone from a sub-optimised environment in terms of infrastructure and technology to one that is in line with, or ahead of, our competitors. Project One were central to the success of this work, bringing greater certainty of execution.”

Tim Doubleday, CFO, Casual Dining Group

 

“The way the change was controlled and managed also allowed our general managers to continue to focus on their ambitious re-development plans within the Bella Italia and Café Rouge brands. So together, we completed a very successful year of growth in a difficult market, and established solid foundations for future success. We have benefitted from a real step-change in capability. We are more confident about landing change internally, but if we have a substantial integration to deal with in the future, then we’d pick up the phone to Project One again. The Project One team brought different characters and skills that complemented each other and our team.”

Tim Doubleday, CFO, Casual Dining Group

POSTED BY: Hayley Greenhill - Head of Communications

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