Investment to drive Camino on
18 February, 2013
Spanish bar and restaurant chain Camino is primed for growth on the back of fresh investment, founder Richard Bigg says in a profile by the Telegraph.
As Peach Report has reported, Camino has recently picked up £3m of capital from the Business Growth Fund, in return for a 25% share of the business.
Bigg now wants to open seven new restaurants by 2014, but is anxious that Camino retains its independent appeal. “We regard ourselves as a group rather than a chain. When what you’re rolling out becomes a cookie cutter, you’ve got a chain. The staff start to feel like they’re working for a big faceless company.”
Keeping staff happy is particularly important, he says. “Most places I have worked in treated staff really badly and just cracked the whip the whole time. I swore I would do the opposite… I don’t want people working stupid hours, resenting me and being moody with customers.”
Camino now has three sites in London, with projected sales this year of £10m. Bigg says bank debt was impossible—“You’d be wasting your time [asking for it] at the moment”—and says the Business Growth Fund will professionalise Camino. “They’re experts in crunching the numbers, making us more efficient without damaging the spirit of the place. It is support in IT, HR that makes it more of a success.”
Bigg traces his fascination with Spain to a road trip in his 20s. “Spain is not a complicated thing to sell to people. It’s not Ukrainian rustic country food or something. Yes, a lot of [Britons] still go to the Costas, but there is a lot more awareness of the interior of Spain now and the quality of the food and drink.”
He also looks back on an intriguing past that has included a spell as a commodities trader and a year as a racing driver with a series of crashes. “If I was a cat with just the nine lives, I’d be long gone.” He launched his first bar, Cantaloupe, in 1995, and put his house up as collateral. “My then wife said, what if it fails? I said, we get a caravan.”
For the full story, see London tapas chain Camino set to grow.