The restaurant group Corbin & King (formerly Rex Restaurant Associates), will announce the sale of a majority shareholding today, according to a report by Sky News. The group — which is run by restaurateurs Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, and includes iconic restaurants The Wolseley, The Delaunay and Brasserie Zédel — is being bought by Minor Hotels, a Thai-based company with over 150 properties worldwide. It is understood that Minor will be buying “most of its stake” from Graphite Capital, the private equity firm which invested £21 million in Corbin & King in 2012.
The sale — which is expected to be announced on the Thai stock exchange today — would represent one of the highest profile group transactions in the restaurant industry since Nick Jones and Richard Caring sold 60% of The Soho House Group to American billionaire Ron Burkle in 2012.
Sky News quotes sources who said “the deal valued Corbin & King at roughly £60m and would result in Chris Corbin and Jeremy King continuing as minority investors alongside Minor.” King is the current chief executive of the company.
Corbin and King have been business partners for over thirty-five years having met in the 1970s at Langan’s Brasserie and Joe Allen — two iconic London restaurants of the day. The Wolseley, which opened in 2003 on Piccadilly, is one of the city’s most well known restaurants. In 2014, the pair opened The Beaumont in Mayfair, which added a first hotel to their portfolio. Corbin and King are considered among London’s most successful restaurateurs, trademarking so-called ‘posh-casual’ and re-imagining the brasserie for a twenty-first century metropolitan market.
The only relative blot on the group’s copy book is The Beaumont Hotel, whose brief history has been more troubled than their other properties: Sky say that the landlord Grosvenor Estates took back the lease initially granted, “switching Corbin & King to a management contract.”
King has been an outspoken critic of Brexit, warning against the challenges a new economic reality will present for the London hospitality industry, and Eater London understands that Graphite Capital has been looking to sell its stake for a number of months. However, Sky quote someone close to the deal who said “it represented a vote of confidence by Thai-based Minor Hotels in both the resilience of London's upmarket restaurant sector and in Mr King's management team.”