Corbin & King lose battle for control of their group

Founders Chris Corbin and Jeremy King have lost their battle for control of the company that owns a string of London best-loved restaurants headed by The Wolseley.

Thai-based majority shareholder, Minor International, were victorious in an auction that concluded on Thursday 31 March.

Jeremy King (pictured) had vowed to take the company back under private control after falling out with Minor, which wanted to pursue a strategy of replicating the company’s restaurants in major cities around the world. He issued a statement today regretting that the attempt had failed.

He said: “I assume Minor will take immediate control of the restaurants. It remains to be seen how the transition will be effected.”

Emails to King’s Corbin & King email address are already bouncing back with the telling auto-reply:

Thank you for your email.
I might be slower than usual in replying – and possibly not able to at all

Minor (confusing name as they had a “major” 74% equity holding) invested in Corbin & King in 2017. They purchased their ownership from Graphite Capital who had invested in the business in 2013.

During the pandemic, Minor supported the business through loans and it was the obligations created by this debt that gave Minor the whip hand in enforcing their view on the shape strategy should take. When King opposed Minor’s desired direction of travel – a global “roll out” of the Wolseley and other brands (à la Richard Caring with The Ivy) – then Minor were able to force liquidation.

Today, their success was announced in the auction to purchase Corbin & King from the liquidator.

Peter Harden, editor of Harden’s, notes:

“Chris Corbin and Jeremy King have been notoriously hands-on in their creation of some of London’s most iconic (for once the word is justified) restaurants.

Immaculately tailored, Jeremy in particular is famously always striding around the dining room, meeting, greeting and ensuring all is well. It is hard to see the marvellous atmosphere that their personalities have fostered surviving this transition.

Let’s hope Minor will surprise us all. But it’s hard not to dread a sub-Ivy-style roll out, with a Wolseley doubtless cropping up soon from Abu Dhabi to Aberdeen, via the departure lounge at Gatwick.

On the positive side, I don’t think this is the last we’ve heard from Chris Corbin and Jeremy King. Perhaps there’s an incredibly exciting new opening that we will all be able to look forward to in the coming months and years.”

Share this article: