Leon Restaurants gears for worldwide expansion with new senior appointments

19th December 2017 (Last Updated December 19th, 2017 14:40)

British restaurant group Leon has made three new appointments to its senior management team, along with one internal transfer, ahead of plans to grow the business at home and abroad.

British restaurant group Leon has made three new appointments to its senior management team, along with one internal transfer, ahead of plans to grow the business at home and abroad.

Glenn Edwards, who has been the healthy fast food chain’s UK operations director since 2011, is moving to America next year as managing director of Leon US.

The company’s first American restaurant is scheduled to open in Washington D.C. in 2018 with two more ‘major deals’ expected to be announced early next year.

2018 will also see the opening of the group’s third and fourth European stores in Norway and Sweden as part of a franchisee partnership with the Norwegian-based Umoe Restaurant Group.

Gourmet Burger Kitchen’s current operations director Karen Stone is joining Leon in 2018 to support its franchised operations as well as Leon’s owned restaurants.

Stone will replace the departing John Upton who has been credited with driving Leon’s international development which included its first two openings overseas in the Netherlands last year.

John Vincent, Leon chief executive and co-founder, said: “We are sad to see John move on. I would like to thank him for his significant contribution to Leon over the past couple of years and we wish him all the best for the future.”

The company has recruited two more directors from casual dining competitors in Wagamama’s Adam Gregory, who is joining as director for operational support, and Las Iguanas’s Shereen Ritchie who will be its new UK operations director.

John Vincent added: “When we started Leon, the idea of good fast food was a surprising one to people. Today there are others pursuing this same idea, but none for whom this has been their core idea from inception. We therefore have an opportunity, not a right, to succeed.

“To do so we need to be the home of top talent. My job is to create an attractive place to work where people are paid to be themselves. All three new hires share this belief and will in turn focus on doing the same for their own teams.”

The company reported revenues of £42m for 2016 and a 7.6% rise in like-for-like sales. Operating profit of £609k was down on 2015 (£812k) with the financing of ten new sites during the period said to be the main reason for the fall in profits.

The 47-strong restaurant chain opened two motorway sites earlier this year in Norton canes and Strensham in partnership with Roadchef.