A DAY IN THE LIFE: BARBURRITO
A HEALTHY PARTNERSHIP
By Luke Archer
Securing lucrative contracts, launching innovative products and closing game-changing deals are all part of an entrepreneur’s life, but what really goes on during the day-to-day operations. Luke Archer meets Barburrito founders Paul Kilpatrick and Morgan Davies to find out what they get up to.
Entrepreneurs are, on the whole, creatures of habit; they have their own way of doing things, charged by a belief that it is the only route to achieve the goal of building a successful business.
However, for Barburrito co-founders Morgan Davies and Paul Kilpatrick routine doesn’t have a chance to establish itself in an average working day, as they work to roll out their Mexican food chain and treble its size in three years.
The two ex-management consultants have taken up very different roles within the business, with Paul spearheading the acquisition of new sites while Morgan has taken responsibility for the coal face, ensuring that their existing locations are meeting the exacting standards that have been put in place.
On the day we met the duo rose at a similar early morning hour and, having arrived at work (Paul by bike to cram in some exercise), spent the first hour of the day completing the unenviable task of sifting through their email inboxes.
With BGF as a long term investor and £3.25 million, Barburrito is now embarking on an ambitious roll-out plan which will include cracking the London market. Like every Tuesday morning, the next task on the agenda is to look at the financial performance of each restaurant (the business now has six) to pick up any irregularities. Weekend trading has been strong across all sites, and today there are no specific problems.
Morgan has taken on the role of managing the day-to-day running of each restaurant to ensure that the treatment of each site is consistent. So, with nothing untoward to find in the financials, he can start talking with the restaurant managers to plan the day ahead. Morgan likes to begin by reviewing pivotal procedures such as operational standards, team quality, cost controls and any upcoming marketing opportunities or events. With Barburrito hoping to prosper from repeat trade, its success will come down to enticing customers into returning multiple times a week.
Today the first port of call is Barburrito’s Manchester Piccadilly restaurant, where he meets with store manager Sarah to discuss the operational priorities for the day.
There is also time for Morgan’s favourite task – introducing himself to the new Barburrito recruits. He wants to find out how their training is going, and he asks specific questions around the quality of their induction, who their buddy trainer is and he makes sure they are generally on track with their development. Morgan also uses his morning to field a call from BGF’s Regional Director for the North of England, Andy Gregory, to discuss meeting with other companies, in the area and in the hospitality sector, that are considering BGF funding. It’s a task he enjoys and allows him to offer a perspective on life with BGF as a junior partner.
While Morgan’s morning was very much spent in the guts of the business, for Paul the period provided him with an opportunity to push on with his key projects. On the day we met Paul had a supply chain issue to resolve, the ongoing re-fit of one of Barburrito’s current stores to oversee and he wanted to get a update from the team working to develop a new breakfast offering. But top priority for Paul is the drive to find new restaurant sites.
Finding a new site involves ticking a number of boxes which Paul and Morgan believe are necessary to ensure that a new restaurant will provide not only the right amount of footfall, but the right kind as well. Sites in high-density office or student populations are top of the list. These restaurants benefit from repeated and sustained visits as well as some social/weekend trade. Underneath a large office block, rather than in an out of town shopping centre, is where they believe Barburrito is best suited.
Paul is working his way through a long list of potential locations; a task which he said can be about whittling down 100 prospective sites to a shortlist of six or so for personal viewing. He aids this task by using tools such as Google Maps and Streetview to get a better feel for the area surrounding the possible spot. Sites which fail at the first hurdle tend to be ones in the wrong location or units that are long and thin with big step changes of height. To help with site selection and to ensure that new restaurants hit the ground running, Barburrito has brought in an industry heavyweight to provide some advice. To coincide with the investment deal, the chain secured the services of former Pret A Manger and EAT-board member Colin
Hughes as a non-executive director. With Hughes having opened over 100 sites across the country, Paul tells me that he has an incredible understanding on locations. Today Paul takes the opportunity to give Colin a quick call to discuss a couple of potential sites in an area he is not familiar with.
Colin has a particularly good knowledge of the London market and has been vital in supporting Paul’s on-the-ground work in identifying potential locations. Further support comes from another non-executive, Richard O’Sullivan who possesses the nickname Cookie having co-founded Millie’s Cookies back in the 80’s and rolled it out across the UK.
While ultimately Paul relies on good old fashioned shoe leather to search for new restaurant sites, today he is hammering out the details of the four offers that Barburrito has recently made, and that will hopefully take the chain into double digits. Nailing the right site, he told me, is imperative – as getting a good one can make the business, while taking on a bad one can take years to recover from.
The lunch period is when Morgan closes his laptop and joins the front line by helping out in the restaurant to make sure services standards are being met, a factor which both Paul and Morgan say has to stay at the top of their priority list. On this particular day Morgan is front of house, greeting customers, clearing tables and giving people an opportunity to interact with one of the owners first hand.
With the busiest period of the day over, Morgan puts in a call with BGF’s Head of HR Jenny Chandler to discuss the latest draft of Barburrito’s Employee Handbook. He is keen to leverage best practice from the BGF portfolio.
Morgan also speaks with Colin Hughes. He wants to discuss the first set of results from Barburrito’s new operational audit partner. While the business is building the bones of a solid management team which can begin to take on further responsibility as the restaurant site number rises, for now Morgan likes to ensure that he has his hand firmly on the wheel of every location.
Despite the two having taken responsibility for different facets of the business, throughout the day Paul and Morgan make sure they touch base to check on the others’ progress and bounce ideas off each other throughout the day. Both acknowledge that being co-founders has provided the pair with an invaluable outlet to leverage different skill sets and take time away from board meetings to evaluate the performance of the company and plan for the future.
Engaging in social media is Paul’s favourite part of the day and in the afternoon he picks up on a couple of tweets from customers which bring a smile to his face and prove that the Barburrito brand is moving in the right direction. Like any entrepreneur, praise brings validation to what they are doing – and during a visit to Barburrito’s Trafford Centre location a week before, his frustrations at what he saw were errors on the restaurant floor were quickly extinguished when he overheard a small girl telling her mother how delicious the meal she’d just eaten had been. He also picked up on a Facebook posting which presented a Barburrito-branded Nicorette style patch on a girls arm with the caption ‘Will this help?’ and a subsequent comment reading ‘I’m hooked!’
For the remainder of the afternoon Morgan navigates around a number of Barburrito’s sites in Manchester as part of his weekly effort to make sure he visits all of its restaurants in the city, as well as its Leeds and Liverpool establishments. He says it is important that all the restaurant teams get time with the owners. He’s frank in admitting that the business is run and operated by the staff on its restaurant floors, a fact he and Paul cannot afford to forget.
Having spent the day surrounded by burritos, rather surprisingly the hard-working entrepreneurs like to do their own cooking at home (just not Mexican!). In the evenings Paul and Morgan both like to make time for their children, providing a welcome break from the pressures of building a business. Leaving the office means an end to email communication, I’m told, but engaging with social media at the end of the day remains a guilty pleasure for Paul and helps motivate him ahead of the challenges facing him the next day.
Barburrito opens in Paddington Train Station
Award-winning burrito independent Barburrito opens its seventh outlet in Paddington Train Station on March 22nd 2013.
Fiona Thomson of Network Rail commented “The fast-casual dinning experience offered by Barburrito was the perfect fit for our high footfall station that welcomes over 50 million people annually”.
The 560sqft unit in the Lawn area of the station builds on the established Barburrito brand with contemporary seating and interiors designed by London based interior design company Caulder Moore.
As part of its calculated expansion plans for the UK, Chairman Colin Hughes (formally Head of Retail Operations at EAT and Pret A Manger) reveals his excitement about the London opening; “I am delighted that we have established our first Barburrito in the capital. Our recent £3.25 million investment from the Business Growth Fund will enable us to take the UK’s first burrito business into many locations across London.”
The company, co-founded and headed by former management consultants Morgan Davies and Paul Kilpatrick, additionally operate stores in Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds and is currently experiencing 18% like-for-like growth YTD.
Davies quotes: “Having opened the UK’s first burrito bar back in 2005 in Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens, we are delighted to have opened our London operation in such a high profile location. Paddington Station is a London icon and the perfect platform for our forthcoming expansion in the capital.
The UK burrito race is now on and, with a growing national presence, Barburrito is well positioned to achieve our mission, to be the most loved burrito brand in the UK.”
The new Paddington Station store has created a further 20 jobs within the company who now employs over 120 staff. As a result of the BGF expansion, Barburrito expect to create approximately 250 new jobs over the next 3-4 years.
BOOST JUICE BARS
UK juice bar chain receives £2.5m boost from BGF
Manchester-based Boost Juice Bars UK (Boost) is a growing chain of retail stores specialising in the sale of freshly made smoothies and juices. Boost currently operates ten stores across the UK including Manchester’s Trafford Centre and Piccadilly train station, London’s Westfield White City and Westfield Stratford, Meadowhall Sheffield and Bristol’s Cribbs Causeway. Operating in the fast growing wellness category, Boost provides a healthy alternative to soft drinks, on-the-go meals and sweets. Nutritional and health advantages provided by juices and smoothies remain key growth drivers for the smoothie bar market.
Boost was founded in Adelaide by Janine Allis in 2003 and has nearly 200 sites throughout Australia alone. Its continued global expansion sees Boost Juice Bars now successfully operating in over 20 other countries including South Africa, Chile, Estonia, Germany, Kuwait, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, India, China and Russia. Boost was established in the UK in 2007 when Richard and Dawn O’Sullivan, the team behind Millies Cookies acquired the rights to exclusively operate Boost Juice Bars in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Six years on from its first opening, Boost in Manchester’s Trafford Centre continues to be one of the top 3 performing Boost Juice Bars from more than 280 stores now operating around the world. In the financial year ended September 2012 the business generated turnover of £4m.
Richard and Dawn O’Sullivan along with Chairman Bill Holroyd and Finance Director Martin Burrill were the team behind Millie’s Cookies, which grew to over 100 stores before its successful sale to Compass Group in June 2003 for £24m.Richard O’Sullivan has been the non-executive Chairman of Barburrito, a chain of fast-casual Mexican restaurants for the last four years. Barburrito, already sitting within the BGF portfolio, was the first business based in the North of England to receive BGF funding earlier this year.
In December 2012, BGF invested £2.5m in Boost and took a minority stake with Andy Gregory joining the board. BGF’s investment will help accelerate the company’s roll-out programme to grow its existing store portfolio of 10 stores to around 40 stores over the next 3 years.
Camino is a chain of Spanish tapas bar-restaurants reflecting the life and soul and tastes of Spain and offering modern, authentic Spanish cuisine. In December 2012, BGF took a minority stake in Camino and invested £3m of growth capital into the business.
Camino’s large restaurant sites are specifically designed to offer customers the dining and drinking culture of Spain, with an emphasis on shared food. It offers a high quality tapas menu, which is complemented by local Spanish wines and beers.
Since BGF’s investment, Camino has opened sites in Blackfriars and Bankside and a dedicated Cava bar called Copa de Cava. The business now has four sites including restaurants in King’s Cross and Monument. They have also hired an experienced Finance Director and worked to build brand awareness of Camino.
The business was founded in 2007 by Richard Bigg and Nigel Foster who have worked together since opening their first bar in Shoreditch in 1995. They have since gone on to open a series of successful bars across London and in Bristol, including: Cargo and Cantaloupe in Shoreditch; Market Place near Oxford Street; and the Big Chill chain of bars in Kings Cross, Brick Lane and Bristol. Camino’s Chairman, Mark Derry, is also a highly successful and experienced restaurateur in the dining sector, having previously built the 36-site Loch Fyne and 20-site Brasserie Blanc establishments.
Camino has won several awards, including Observer Food Monthly Best Bar in Britain 2008 and was shortlisted for the Best Emerging Concept category at the Retailers Awards, voted by industry peers. Bar Pepito, the UK’s first dedicated sherry bar and also owned by Camino, was named Time Out Best Bar in Britain in its first year.
Camino generates revenues of £8m and employs 150 people between its head office and restaurants.
Northern Pub Group Toasts £10M Equity Investment
Founded in 2006 by local entrepreneurs John Weir (CEO) and John Sands (Chairman), Wear Inns focuses on the acquisition and management of freehold community pubs across the North East and Yorkshire. The estate currently comprises 15 sites, including The Townhouse in Whitley Bay, Millstone in Gosforth, Black Bull in East Boldon, Cross Keys in Washington, Guidepost in Springwell, New Inn in Durham, Priory in York, New Inn in Wetherby, The Sun in Shipley and the Courthouse in Barnsley. Wear Inns is headquartered in Billingham, County Durham, and currently employs 175 people. BGF and NVM’s £10m equity investment will enable Wear Inns to acquire further sites over the next few months, creating a further 40 new jobs, and provide flexibility for further acquisitions thereafter.
BGF and NVM Private Equity (NVM) has commited £10m of growth capital in acquisitive Northern pub chain, Wear Inns. BGF invested £8m for a minority stake in the business and will join the existing board.
NVM has backed Wear Inns from start-up and to this point has £4.2m of capital invested in the business. Since then, the company has built up an estate of 15 sites through regional and national acquisitions; from chains such as Mitchells and Butler, Spirit, TCG Inns, Barracuda Pubs and Bars, and Greene King. On average, Wear Inns has succeeded in improving the turnover of its pubs by c90% within six months of their acquisition and refurbishment. In the last three years, Wear Inns has trebled its sales with net revenues now totaling £7.3m and has achieved like for like sales growth of 7.2%. This is a second investment for BGF in the North of England within six weeks, following its backing of Manchester and Leeds based Mexican food chain, Barburrito, last month. It is also the second co-investment for BGF.
In recent years there has been a strong outperformance by the managed pub model where the company owns the freehold and employs its own staff, as adopted by Wear Inns. Chairman John Sands and MD John Weir who started the business in 2006 have significant experience in the Hospitality sector. Sands developed the Hartlepool based Pubmaster chain into one of the largest in the UK, selling the 3200 pub estate in 2003. John Weir was Retail Director for Bass/M&B, mainly responsible for the North East and North of England before joining John Sands at Pubmaster. Wear Inns was introduced to BGF by PWC.
The advisers to the transaction were KPMG (vendor due diligence), Watson Burton (lawyers to Wear Inns), Dickinson Dees (lawyers to NVM), and Addelshaw Goddard (lawyers to BGF).
Founded in 2005, Barburrito is a chain of fast-casual Mexican restaurants led by co-founder and chief executive Morgan Davies.
Barburrito was the UK’s first burrito bar chain to build a national presence in the UK, and has rapidly grown in popularity due to its fast, fresh and healthy “Mex inspired” food.
BGF first invested in Barburrito in April 2012, initially committing £3.25m of growth capital to fund an active roll-out programme. Since then, further funding has brought our total investment to £11.35m.
Starting from a single site in Manchester, Barburrito now operates 17 restaurants across Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Nottingham and London, and opened its first site in Wales in spring 2015. In November 2015, Barburrito successfully acquired the burrito restaurant chain Pinto Mexican Kitchen, which comprised five Pinto restaurants positioned in high footfall locations in Edinburgh and Glasgow. The acquisition has provided Barburrito with a key strategic platform for further growth in Scotland.
Barburrito now employs more than 200 people and has made significant investment in operations, branding and its supply chain to enable rapid expansion. The business is supported by Graham Turner, former CEO of Tragus Group, whose portfolio of brands included Café Rouge, Bella Italia and Strada and former executive chairman of Novus Leisure. Graham joined the board as chairman in May 2014 following an introduction made by BGF.
Barburrito’s roll-out programme is set to continue with plans to increase the number of sites to 25 by 2017.