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Independent Restaurateur Says ‘Dying Chains’ Are ‘Devoid of Quality and Personality’

Martin Williams uses a self-congratulatory announcement to send a broadside the way of Jamie’s Italian and Prezzo

Martin Williams of M Restaurants
M Restaurants/Official

M Restaurants founder Martin Williams, at the same time as announcing “record growth and profits” across his portfolio, has issued an extraordinary broadside against “dated and rightly dying” chain restaurants, contrasting their fate with the success of “highest quality at accessible price points” provided by his own (privately backed) establishments.

Profits across the M Restaurants group have increased seven times to the year ending December 2017, according to figures released yesterday. Group sales grew by 19 per cent — to exceed £6 million — with the original Threadneedle Street and Victoria Street venues “both enjoying consistent growth and increased profits.” The new, more informal M Bar & Grill concept which launched in Twickenham enjoyed, a little more vaguely, an “encouraging reception.” Williams also said that the group has plans for at least one more new opening in 2018.

“M Restaurants is a rare good news story in an industry blighted by a saturated market, a devalued pound, increased labour costs and up to 50 per cent rates increases,” Williams said. “Our success contrasts with chain restaurants even the best of which give a mediocre offering in a soulless environment and are all too often being found out as poor value for money, devoid of personality and quality.”

It’s worth remembering that “personality” at M Restaurants can sometimes come at a price, though; in October last year, the group appointed “Hudson the Brandy Doodle,” a labradoodle cognac sommelier, whose services would cost thousands of pounds.

And yet, Williams says, “Guests at M have rightly grown to expect and appreciate a heightened experience offering finest quality produce perfectly prepared and served with a true spirit of welcome and hospitality. In contrast, chain restaurants — whether a private members set up, steak restaurants or a pizza or burger group — are rightly struggling. M’s results show that diners appreciate quality at an accessible price point and are discovering a new standard in drinking and dining.”

The group, run by Williams, a “former [Argentinean steak chain] Gaucho supremo,” is proudly backed “by both prominent business leaders and legendary sporting stars.” The company has released what it calls “these astonishing end of year results that dramatically buck the trend of restaurant organisations such as Cote, Prezzo and Jamie Oliver which have announced administration, closures and job losses in the past weeks.”