Luke Johnson is a knowledgeable and experienced keynote speaker. He grew Pizza Express from 12 restaurants to over 250. He then started Signature, which owned The Ivy and Le Caprice, as well as the Belgo chain.
Luke’s speeches are always cultured, entertaining and provocative. He speaks passionately about entrepreneurialism and its contribution to the good of society as a whole; he also speaks with conviction about the value of optimism, determination and self-reliance.
Background and career
An Oxford medical graduate, Luke started his professional life as a media analyst. He is Chairman and part-owner of Bread Holdings, Britain’s leading artisan bakery and owner of retail bakery concept Gail’s, and owner of Feng Sushi, a London based sushi delivery restaurant chain. He is also Chairman and part-owner of 3Sixty Restaurants, which controls the Rocket and Ego restaurant chains.
A leading figure in private equity and the man behind several instantly-recognizable high street brands, Luke is also the former chair of Channel 4 and the current chair of the Royal Society of Arts.
Chairman of Risk Capital Partners Ltd, a private equity house; part owner and Chairman of Superbrands Giraffe, Patisserie Valerie and Baker and Spice; major owner and Director of the market leader in car park equipment, APT Controls, Luke's diversity is awe-inspiring.
"The best element was when we got into the discussion after the formal speech element"
Luke was Chairman of Channel 4 Television Corporation from 2004 – 2010, in which time the organisation enjoyed record ratings and revenues. He also served as Chairman of the trustees of the £150m Channel 4 staff pension plan.
Luke is a strategic investor in Beer & Partners, the UK's largest business investment agency, and is Chairman of Fast Track, a leading networking events and research company focusing on Britain's top-performing private companies.
He writes a weekly column on entrepreneurship for The Financial Times and wrote a weekly column on business matters for The Sunday Telegraph for eight years.
Luke became chairman of PizzaExpress in 1993. He grew the business from 12 owned restaurants to over 250, and the share price from 40p to over 900p. Luke sold out in 1999 and started Signature Restaurants, which owned The Ivy and Le Caprice, as well as the Belgo chain, selling the business in 2005. He started the Strada restaurant concept from scratch and took the chain to 30 units and sold it in late 2005. The total proceeds from these two disposals were in excess of £90 million.
Luke has been involved as a Director/owner of various quoted companies, including Whittard of Chelsea, My Kinda Town, Nightfreight and American Port Services. He is also principal owner of GRA, the UK's largest greyhound track owner.
As principal owner of Mayfair Gaming, the chain of Riva bingo clubs, Luke oversaw the sale of the chain for an IRR of over 40%. In 1996 Luke founded Integrated Dental Holdings with partners and grew it to become the largest UK chain of dental surgeries with over 500 dentists. He sold it in 2006 for over £100 million. He is a co-founder/owner and Director of InterQuest Group plc, a quoted recruitment business. From 2004 to 2006 he was a Director of Dollar Financial Group Inc, a US NASDAQ traded corporation.
Luke was appointed Chairman of the Royal Society of Arts in 2008. He was a governor of The University of the Arts London and is also Chairman of StageOne, a charity in support of new producers of quality commercial theatre in the UK.
Luke is married with three children and lives in London.
Luke Johnson grew Pizza Express from 12 restaurants to over 250. He then started Signature, which owned The Ivy and Le Caprice, as well as the Belgo chain, and is an inspirational keynote speaker.
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