Luke Johnson studied medicine at Oxford University and graduated in 1983. He then worked as a media analyst at stockbroker Grieveson Grant.
Luke took control of PizzaExpress with partners in 1993 and subsequently became Chairman. He grew the business from 12 restaurants to over 250, and the share price from 40p to over 900p.
He 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.
In the period 1993 to-date he has been involved as a Director/owner of various quoted companies in retailing, pubs and bars, parcel delivery and maritime commerce. Luke founded Integrated Dental Holdings with partners in 1996 and grew it to become the largest UK chain of dental surgeries with over 500 dentists. This was sold in 2006 for over £100 million.
He is a co-founder/owner of InterQuest Group plc, a quoted recruitment business. He has been a principal owner of GRA, the UK's largest greyhound track owner, since early 2005. He was the principal owner of Mayfair Gaming, the chain of Riva bingo clubs, from 2004. This was sold in 2006 for an IRR of over 40%. He is also the part owner and Chairman of Superbrands, Giraffe restaurants and Patisserie Valerie.
Luke became Chairman of Channel 4 Television in January 2004. Since then, he has appointed a new CEO, restructured the board and seen the organisation enjoy record ratings, revenues and surplus. In September 2007, Luke bought Borders, one of the UK's largest bookshop chains with revenues of over £200m.
Luke wrote a weekly column on business matters for The Sunday Telegraph for eight years until 2006. He now writes a weekly column on entrepreneurship for The Financial Times.
As a leading figure in private equity and the man behind several instantly-recognizable high street brands, luke is one of the few entrepreneurs whose speeches resonate with one-man-band businesses and Sunday Times readers alike.
Luke has delivered talks in many formats, including after dinner speeches, lunchtime salons, management off-sites, trade events, board briefings, motivational events and public seminars.
Luke’s speeches are both entertaining and provocative. He speaks passionately about the contribution of entrepreneurialism to the good of society, and the personal value of optimism, determination and self-reliance.
Luke is equally comfortable talking to sector-specific audiences, particularly those relating to his own interests i.e. the media, the restaurant trade and private equity.
Former clients include: BNP Paribas Real Estate UK, Quoted Companies Alliance, UK Investor Show 2015, BVCA The Institute of Directors, HSBC, J P Morgan, Barclays, Guardian Media Summit, Endemol, Management Today, Incorporated Society of British Advertisers, London Business School, Master Investor, Marketing Society, The Institute of Chartered Accountancy, The Manchester Enterprise Summit, The School of Life, BDO Stoy Hayward.
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