Gaucho Group beefs up board with new non-executive chairman Luke Johnson

Francesca Washtell
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A steak of Argentine beef is put on the grill of a
Gaucho Group was bought by Equistone Partners Europe in January this year (Source: Getty)

Argentine steakhouse chain Gaucho Group, backed by Equistone Partners Europe, has appointed hospitality and leisure entrepreneur Luke Johnson as non-executive chairman.

Johnson is currently chairman of Patisserie Holdings, Bread Holdings (which owns Gail's), 3Sxity, Feng Sushi, Draft House Grand Union and Genuine Dining. In the past, he was chairman of PizzaExpress, Giraffe and Strada.

Gaucho Group owns 12 restaurants across London, as well as restaurants in Manchester, Leeds and, further afield, Hong Kong, Dubai and (naturally) Buenos Aires.

Formed in 1994, Gaucho was bought out by hungry private equity firm Equistone Partners in January, in a deal thought to be worth £100m.

"Luke has been at the forefront of some of the most dynamic expansion programmes in hospitality. He has overseen over 500 restaurant and pub openings, more than any other individual in the sector, and his record in launching successful IPOs is second-to-none," Zeev Godik, chief executive of the Gaucho Group, said.

"His financial astuteness will be an invaluable asset for our own future plans, but what is equally important to us is a shared passion for the industry, his understanding of what makes a restaurant tick when it comes to quality, service and repeat business."

Gaucho's beef comes exclusively from Argentina and the firm still employs traditional gauchos who move the cattle from one fresh grassland to another while on horseback.

Luke Johnson said: "I am very excited to be working with Zeev and his team. I have been an admirer of Gaucho for many years, and look forward to helping with the expansion of the business. I see a great future for Gaucho and its new sibling CAU, both here and abroad, which is why I have invested a substantial sum in backing the business."