D&D London is focused on enhancing its existing estate as well as looking within the capital and international markets for expansion.

Former Byron chief executive Simon Wilkinson – appointed to the board as chief advancement officer following Calveton and Breal Capital’s acquisition of the group – said it would look to expand, but at “the right place and right time.”

“D&D went through a process that indicated not everything was going as well as it should be,” he says. “We’re looking to address the things that need fixing and by the new year, we should be where we want to be in terms of a stable and sound business platform.

“Historically any available capital has been spent on expansion at a detriment to the existing business. We want to invest in the existing estate.”

Calveton and partner Breal Capital acquired the restaurant and bar group last month in a deal valuing D&D at £60m including debt. The group confirmed five closures earlier this year and now operates c33 sites, primarily in London.

“D&D has some world-famous concepts and some of the best locations in the UK,” Wilkinson adds. “It’s not without risk due to the economic headwinds but it’s an attractive business to own.

“The estate had been tidied up before our arrival. There was a lot of debt, but our approach was to support the existing lenders and management team and move the business forward.

“We were attracted by the fact it’s premium - we wouldn’t invest in the middle of the market currently.

“One of the other reasons we liked the business was that we saw an employee base with lots of long service and loyalty, which is a really positive sign. People have stuck with the business through good and bad.”

The board aims to support high levels of staff retention by restructuring the bonus scheme to incentivise performance and placing more control in the hands of its general managers and head chefs.

Along with fostering a strong employee culture, the new ownership is reviewing operations, product, and pricing – and will look to focus on what D&D does best.

With more than 20 existing concepts, it will be more about tweaking and evolving the offer rather than reinventing the wheel.

“The USP of D&D is amazing rooftop locations,” Wilkinson says. “We’re the best at executing dining and bar experiences near famous landmarks.

“It has to be the right iconic building with the right offer that fits within the DNA of D&D. It’s not about reinventing, it’s about going back to what originally made it successful.”

The group is already looking at potential new sites but will consider expansion on a case-by-case basis.

It remains “open-minded” about further closures, with the current plan to look at business performance through Christmas.

“Previously D&D has opened a couple of sites that have not been in the right locations. It’s also about the right concept.

“We’ve got two or three very strong concepts we can replicate in major cities around the world.

“We’re looking at things already but it’s about when the right thing comes on board. I’d be surprised if we didn’t have something nearing fruition by the first half of next year.”

While there is no “definitive” list of locations, the board has experience operating venues in North America, Europe, and the Middle East, and sees potential in major cities globally.

“We don’t want to put a timeline on expansion, because there are no time pressures, so we can make long-term decisions.”

In terms of trends across the wider hospitality sector, Wilkinson notes that the US is performing better economically but has faith in the long-term potential of the UK industry.

“Business is good, but we don’t want train strikes as we’re heavily London-focused,” he says. “The tourist market is healthy and strong, so we will be positioning ourselves to exploit that.

“We’ve historically not focused on that market much, but each restaurant is its own individual business.”

Ultimately, the idea is to reset the cost base and re-engage the teams to make the business more efficient – with the board also encouraged by consumer resilience in terms of leisure spend.

“We have belief in the industry, assets, and consumers coming back. There are all the macro-economic concerns, but we’re looking more medium to long term, to take D&D back to its previous heights.

“If you get it right, you’ll survive and thrive.”