James Horler, the former chief executive of La Tasca, has become non-executive chairman of Ping Pong, the dim sum chain led by Jean-Michel Orieux.
Ping Pong currently operates 11 sites in the UK, five throughout the USA, Brazil, and Dubai, and one unit under its takeaway format Now, opposite London’s Liverpool Station.
Horler is currently chief executive of 3Sixty Restaurants, which combines Ego restaurants and Rocket Restaurants, and non-executive chairman of Charterhouse Leisure, the umbrella company for Coal Bar & Grill and Seven Shed.
He built the La Tasca chain up to 74 restaurants over a period of six years, before overseeing the sale of the business to Bay Restaurant Group for £134m in 2007, one of the highest multiples ever achieved for a multi-unit business.
It is thought Horler will not only help Ping Pong with the new stage of its development but also aid the group in raising new funding, with a refinance an option.
Last year, Ping Pong appointed Baker Tilly to advise on raising debt or a possible sale of a stake in the business.
Horler said: “I am delighted to be joining Ping Pong at an important stage in its development. Ping Pong is a great concept fusing the culinary delights of the East and an informal dining experience. I hope to give the Group the benefit of my experience and guide it through the next stage of its development”.
Orieux, managing director said: “We are pleased to welcome James who will add a different dimension to our thinking and much experience of successfully developing restaurant businesses. We have an exciting future.”
Last month, the group reported a loss for the year to 31 March 2011 on the back of development and disposal costs in what it described as a challenging and very competitive trading environment.
It saw a pre-tax loss of £809,000 for the year against a £1.2m profit in 2010, while EBITDA fell slightly from £1.5m to £1.3m. Turnover for the period stood at £16.1m up 3.4% from £15.5m in 2010.