Business Shapers: Luke Johnson

Posted on 07 November 2012

Luke Johnson is the Chairman of Risk Capital Partners, a private equity firm he founded in 2001. For six years until 2010 he served as Chairman of Channel 4 Television. Luke is Chairman/part owner of the restaurant business Giraffe, Chairman/owner of Patisserie Valerie and Chairman/part owner of Gail’s and was Chairman of PizzaExpress PLC in the 1990s.

Transcript

Business Shapers: Luke Johnson

Luke Johnson

Chairman of Risk Capital Partners

Business Shapers from Mishcon de Reya

In association with Jazz FM’s Jazz Shapers

It started at University while I was an undergraduate at Oxford studying and I was having parties with a friend who subsequently became my business partner for many years and we were threatened with being thrown out because our parties were too boisterous so we decided to approach a local nightclub and we took over the premises on a Monday evening and we then came up with the idea of charging on the door.  So our parties feed into a business.  And it was a seminal moment for me on the first night when at twenty to eight, twenty minutes before we were due to open, there was already a queue of customers there and I suddenly thought this is so much more exciting and it is so much more of the sort of thing I want to spend my career doing. 

The truth was then when we invested in Pizza Express it was already a great formula so the model didn’t need to be altered, what needed to happen was a proper capital structure, the end of a recession which obviously was nothing to do with us but happened to happen at that time so that was a great piece of luck. 

In business I think actually the greatest thrill one gets, for me anyhow, is opening new restaurants.  For example, we are opening very soon a new draft house which is a small chain of gastropubs I am involved with in Dulwich and I love that.  To see a battered old premises transformed into something buzzing and dynamic with lots of happy customers, that’s what you know gives me a kick and I am probably going to be involved in something like 45 new openings this year and that gives me as much satisfaction as anything to be honest. 

I think it’s about persistence, it’s about self-discipline, it’s about hard work, it’s about having a good team of people, it’s about having a sort of stable home life if you like, it’s about having enough cash to keep you going through the lean times and I suppose it’s also about an appreciation that actually relatively speaking, doing business in a country like Britain, we are actually quite fortunate.

Business Shapers from Mishcon de Reya

In association with Jazz FM’s Jazz Shapers

How can we help you?

How can we help you?

Subscribe: I'd like to keep in touch

If your enquiry is urgent please call +44 20 3321 7000

Crisis Hotline

Emergency number:

I'm a client

Please enter your first name
Please enter your last name
Please enter your enquiry
Please enter a value

I'm looking for advice

Please enter your first name
Please enter your last name
Please enter your enquiry
Please select a department
Please select a contact method

Something else

Please enter your first name
Please enter your last name
Please enter your enquiry
Please select your contact method of choice