Wanted: billionaire buyer for The Ivy chain as Caring revives Le Caprice

Richard Caring is reportedly looking to cash in his stake in the 50-strong Ivy group of restaurants for a fee in the region of a billion pounds – while also planning to revive the iconic Le Caprice brand.

According to the Sunday Times, HSBC began circulating marketing documents in the City last week to sound out potential buyers. The sale would include the original Ivy in Covent Garden, its 41 spin-offs around the UK and Ireland, and another eight venues under the Ivy Asia brand. Caring’s Caprice Group of restaurants, including Scott’s, Sexy Fish and Bacchanalia, and his nightclub Annabel’s are not part of the deal.

Meanwhile, it is understood he is in talks to open a new incarnation of Le Caprice in the former US Embassy in Mayfair’s Grosvenor Square, whose owner, property outfit Qatari Diar, is redeveloping it as The Chancery Rosewood luxury hotel.

Le Caprice closed down during the pandemic in 2020, but Caring held on to the name when he gave up the lease of its long-term address in Arlington Street, St James’s. That site soon to be reopened as Arlington by Jeremy King – a previous owner of both Le Caprice and The Ivy.

Now 75, Richard Caring made his fortune in the rag trade before pivoting into hospitality with the 2005 purchase of Caprice Holdings and its high-profile flagship The Ivy, a Covent Garden institution dating back to 1917. He subsequently rolled the Ivy out into a national chain variously branded as the Ivy, Ivy Café, Ivy Grill or Ivy Brasserie.

The Ivy group is held as a 50/50 joint venture with former Qatari prime minister Sheikh Hamad Bin-Jassim Bin-Jaber Al Thani, although Caring is understood to have full operational control and voting rights.

The 2024 Harden’s guide reports that “the A-listers are long gone, and standards are hit and miss nowadays” at the Covent Garden flagship, while the spin-offs feel “very chain restaurant now” – although the glossy interiors often create an enjoyably “buzzy” atmosphere at many branches.

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