Gourmet Holdings, the casual dining operator, has put its estate of pub restaurants, including its Bel & the Dragon brand, on the market following a strategic review. The company has decided to focus on roll out of Richoux, its premium all-day brasserie concept. It is thought that the group decided to focus on the higher-returning, more straightforward operating format, given its lack of pub-restaurant scale. The group currently operates six Richoux sites, including four in London and two franchise outlets in the Middle East, four Bel & the Dragon restaurants and three pub restaurants. A sale process started earlier this month. Gourmet said it had already received a number of unsolicited approaches during the summer in respect of its pub restaurant operation. Christie & Co has been appointed to handle the sale. Nigel Whittaker, chairman, said: “Following a strategic review the company will focus on a single brand, Richoux, and will be run on a lower cost base to deliver a more sustainable, more predictable earning stream for shareholders.” The group also said that in view of the decision to simplify the business and to reduce its administrative cost base, it was altering the composition of its board. Whittaker, who advised the company of his intention to stand down earlier in the year, has done so with immediate effect but will remain a non-executive director of the group. Richard Scott, non-executive director, has been appointed as the new chairman. Gareth Lloyd-Jones, chief executive, will leave the company with immediate effect, after it was decided the position of chief executive would not be continued. Andrew Guy, managing director, assumes sole executive responsibility with immediate effect. Mark Horrocks, who has been a non-executive director at the group since 1998, is not standing for re-election at the company's forthcoming AGM, while Simon Broakes resigned as a director on 1 June. The announcement of the sale of its pub restaurant business came as the company announced that turnover for the year to 25 June had rose slightly to £10.24m but gross profit had fallen to £0.89m. The group posted a pre-tax loss of £1.47m, compared with a profit of £0.28m in the corresponding period last year. The company reported that despite the impact of the London Bombings on its results for the first six months of its financial year, Richoux had a successful year overall, recording a substantial increase in profit at restaurant operating level. The group said it believed the brand can operate successfully in locations other than Central London, and that it “should flourish in a wider variety of locations”. It said it was actively looking to expand the number of Richoux restaurants it operates, using the funds it raised from floating last year. The company said the overall performance of its pub restaurant operation had been disappointing, although its Bel and Dragon restaurants remained profitable at operating level. However, its pub restaurant division was particularly impacted by losses of £275,000 at two non-branded sites, which it unsuccessfully tried to transfer out its business earlier in the year. Whittaker said: “Following the strategic review the Company has a clear path. Our principal priorities are to dispose successfully of the pub restaurant operation and to focus on Richoux, where we believe there are attractive growth opportunities. “Gourmet's streamlined board is well placed to respond quickly and effectively to opportunities to develop its business. The Board is firmly focused on delivering and maximising value for shareholders.”