Former PizzaExpress chiefs move into curry with Bombay Bicycle acquisition

David Page, who helped to put PizzaExpress on the culinary map, is attempting to repeat his success with a south London-based Indian takeaway chain that his Clapham House Group bought yesterday for £2.4m.

David Page, who helped to put PizzaExpress on the culinary map, is attempting to repeat his success with a south London-based Indian takeaway chain that his Clapham House Group bought yesterday for £2.4m.

The acquisition of Bombay Bicycle Club, founded two decades ago, comes only weeks after Clapham House bought The Real Greek Food Company, the owner of the acclaimed Hoxton restaurant in north London. Mr Page created the company, which raised £14.5m when it floated on AIM in November, as a shell to buy fledgling restaurant businesses that he could expand into nationwide chains.

Although Bombay Bicycle trades from just one restaurant in Clapham and five takeaway delivery units, Mr Page said up to 40 new sites could be opened in London alone, with the rest of the UK beckoning.

Three entrepreneurs - Julien Cahn, Dabeedil Sawuck and Manjit Shihn - who started the business in 1986 will share the bulk of the payout, although only Mr Cahn and Mr Sawuck will stay on during the company's initial expansion phase. They will initially receive £1.84m cash, with another £575,000 to follow in 12 months.

Paul Campbell, Clapham House's chief executive who used to run PizzaExpress, said: "There is huge demand for Indian food in Britain." Out of 6,000 curry houses and delivery units - worth more than £1bn - just 12 are grouped in a chain, based in Glasgow, he added.

Bombay Bicycle, which is not delivered by a man on a Pennyfarthing as its logo suggests but a scooter, is renowned among residents of South-west London for the high quality of its food. Takeaways arrive hot and, somewhat unusually for a curry house, are not drowning in lukewarm oil. They are only available in the evenings, but Mr Campbell said the group would "look into" making lunchtime deliveries.

He plans to replicate the company's current business model of having one anchor restaurant surrounded by several separate delivery sites.

Describing Clapham House as "quoted venture capitalists", Mr Campbell said it had its eye on another couple of businesses. It plans to steer clear of pizza and pasta, however. Shares in Clapham House, which floated at 100p, rose 5p to 133.5p.

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