Interview with the CEO of D&D - Des Gunewardena


For different reasons, in 2013, our two major external shareholders both decided that it was time to sell their stakes. For Sir Terence Conran, it was the logical conclusion to the spin-out of D&D London from the Conran Group in 2006, and for Caird Capital it was because it only had a relatively small stake and was in the process of realising assets from the fund.

We had a variety of options. We had discussions with several private equity houses, a few international investors, family offices and so on. But in the end LDC was the clear favourite: their style of investment, their strategy, and the way they worked suited us perfectly.

LDC backs owners and management teams rather than demand an active role in the management of the business. In other words, they are supportive investors who back the business plans of those who have founded and grown the companies they are investing in.

But we also liked them on a personal level. You always get a sense of what an organisation is like from the people you meet – and those excellent personal relationships have been maintained throughout.

Our experience since the investment has vindicated our choice. Although we are growing by reinvesting the business’s profits, having an investor of LDC’s calibre as our major shareholder has given us the confidence to execute our expansion plan. You don’t have to constantly look over your shoulder, because you know you have the backing of a major investor that will stick with the business for more than just a few years. 

The addition of leisure industry specialist Simon Sherwood to our board has also added to the quality of our strategic thinking about D&D’s future.

We’ve worked with LDC during a good period for the business, a time which has seen us achieve greater scale in the UK, refurbish our core estate and expand into new markets overseas with the team’s support.

Our revenues and profits are growing, and we’re using the cash generated to continue our expansion. The relationship with LDC has been excellent, and I’m confident that it will continue to be so.

The Deal

In 2013, LDC backed the £50million management buyout of D&D London.

The deal is enabling the company to fund further domestic and international expansion as well as invest in and enhance its diverse portfolio of outlets.

Business Overview

D&D owns and operates over 35 premium restaurants in London, Leeds, Paris, New York and Tokyo.

D&D’s business model is to create high-quality premium restaurants, each trading under its own fascia, with its format driven by the unique characteristics of its concept.