Serial sector entrepreneur Luke Johnson has insisted he is not looking to exit the eating and drinking out market despite further diversification of his business interests.
Talking to MCA yesterday, Johnson also refused to rule out bidding for burger chain Byron.
He spoke to MCA following the announcement that Brighton Pier Group is acquiring Lethington Leisure Ltd – operator of six Paradise Island Adventure Golf sites, for £10.5m.
Johnson said the acquisition was attractive because of the affinity families have with the brand, and said he expected to add at least one site a year to the estate. He said there was a n F&B offer at one site but that he did not see this growing to be a significant part of the overall business.
He said there would be no impact on the Eclectic Bars side of the BPG business as a result of the acquisition but said incorporating broader leisure elements into traditional hospitality formats would continue to be a focus, citing the success of the now two-strong Smash ping pong brand.
The diversification into mini-golf follows Johnson investment into interior design firm InteriorsUk, as revealed by MCA last month.
However, he insisted that eating and drinking out brands remained a key interest for him, saying: “It’s a £70bn a year market that is very diverse and still very vibrant and offers lots of opportunities. I’ve been involved in the leisure/hospitality/food and drink sector for the best part of 30 years and I remain interested in all aspects of it.
“I’ve been through three previous recessions and there will be winners and losers each time. You can always take share even if markets aren’t growing. There has been some ill-advised investment and over-expansion in the sector and there will be a shake out as a result of that which will also create opportunities.”
Asked if one of those opportunities could include a bid for Byron, Johnson replied: “Conceivably, yes.” However, he refused to say whether conversations had taken place.