The Board

Jeremy Roberts

CEO

I started my career washing dishes in my Dad's hotel and some say I peaked too early! Hotels were in my blood so after school I went to Uni at Guildford where I spent four years pretending to study whilst enjoying myself far too much and therefore received the time honoured traditional reward for drinking and debauchery - a Desmond (2:2 to the uninitiated) Armed with my degree in Hotel Management and having spent a year learning how to speak Belgian French in Brussels, whilst drinking lots of beer in the Grand Place during my industrial year.

The world of work couldn't be avoided any longer so a trainee manager's job in London. I worked at the Cumberland Hotel Kitchens for 6 months - yes JB and anyone else who doubts my catering credentials I done my time - mostly chopping veg and carving hunks of meat but I did a bit of creative stuff too and loved every minute. I ended up via stints at various airport and west end hotels to a job as Food and Beverage Manager at the Cavendish Hotel in London and then moved up to Manchester as Hotel Manager of one of the airport Hotels. I then moved away from the corporate world of large hotel companies to the less corporate world of small hotel companies. I built and opened a new hotel (well not with my own two hands - it felt like I did actually) in Lancashire and successfully ran a large nightclub as well as two hotels and then I met Tim...

Tim and I joined forces in 1996 with a third partner Dave and set up Life Restaurants. We developed the Via Vita cafe bar - A Mediterranean concept all blues and oranges very nineties and I think we started that trend. Sorry ! We worked with a brewery on this who bought us out of the business two years later. Next came Life Cafe and after Dave's departure, to build houses and reconcile himself with his first love (his guitar!), finally came The Living Room which we developed to a major high street brand before selling it to concentrate on the Est Est Est estate we bought from TRG and converted those into our Gusto and Blackhouse brands. In the early days Tim worked Operations and Front of House and I did Back of House and the numbers. But that was a long tome ago. These days we have a great team of people enabling Tim and I to relax a bit and enjoy the business we have grown together. These days I am kept pretty busy with corporate and commercial matters and particularly the property elements our ever expanding empire.

Our business model enables Tim and I to assist the various investors we have and to direct the teams in each of the businesses whilst allowing them the autonomy needed to allow them to grow these businesses themselves. It's great fun and I can safely say that we are really living the original dream we had for Living Ventures all those years ago!

My full time job starts when I am not at work at home in Cheshire. Playing tennis or walking the dogs! I am married to Jane - we met at University WOW! Where did all that time go? We have three fantastic kids Alex who has inherited his Dad's good looks and singing voice - WHAT? Actually the music talent comes from Jane although I do still sing in the corridors as many people will testify to! Alex is studying Economics Liverpool University and Alice who loves anything and everything to do with horses is off to Unit this year too and finally Zac who is just good at anything involving a ball and beating his Dad at Tennis and most other sorts too though I still have the edge on the billiard table…for the moment.

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Paul Moran

Group Managing Director

I hail from the great city of Liverpool, anybody who has met me would know this by the accent not the curly perm.

I left Liverpool after my A levels to study mathematics, statistics and computing down in the big smoke quickly learning that London was not the best choice for an impoverished student. Basic economics and the need to spend some time with people who were not as socially inept meant I ventured into bar work, so I finished university with mediocrity and decided to forge a career in our beloved industry much to the dismay of my parents who had such high hopes for me.

After a few years of this I decided to up sticks and move to LA, apart from the facts that I’d never been there and I didn’t know anybody - what could possibly go wrong. I had the most tremendous 3 ½ years running a bar in Hollywood and coaching football but then decided to move to New York, well you just would wouldn’t you, and worked in an East Village restaurant for a year.

So after London, LA and NY where could I possibly go next…….I moved back to Liverpool expecting a fanfare, keys to the city and at least an open top bus. This didn’t quite work out as expected so I moved back to London to work with some supermodels in the not so successful restaurant venture Fashion Cafe, I do not remember who they are but I think they still remember me!

So it was back to Liverpool for either the Football Club or Living Ventures, needless to say I have been here for 14 years plus now with more job titles than I care to recall but am still excited by my job as much now as ever. I am massively improved by my beautiful wife Karen who I stole from Northern Ireland and being typically dad’ish to the most amazing son Lucca who I am incredibly proud of.

So that’s me, thank you for donating a few minutes you’ll never get back!

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John Branagan

Group Chef Director

The early part of my career was focused in 4 and 5 star hotels in the south; The Complete Angler in Marlow, The Inn the Park on Park Lane and the Oakley Court Hotel In Windsor. I returned to the north to take my first Head Chef position at the Chalon Court Hotel in St Helens, this was a new 4 star hotel owned by Pilkington’s the glass manufacturers, this was where I met Jeremy as he was the General Manager. I left Chalon Court to take an Executive Head Chef position with Queens Moat House in Stoke on Trent, 5 months into the job I met up with Jez and he offered me a chance to join him and Tim in their new business Via Vita…that was 16 years ago and I can’t say I have every looked back.

At Living Ventures I deal with all aspects of food within all our businesses, I lead our teams of Operations Head Chefs who manage our food business on a day to day basis, the company has a strong commitment to food development which affords me the luxury of working with the Development Chefs in design, creativity, costings and implementation of our food offerings.

I live to eat, taste and experience all styles and levels of food, my favourite place to eat is rural Italy, they have such a massive range of local produce that follows the seasons, letting the natural flavours shine through with simple uncomplicated combinations.

I have been married to my darling wife Lisa for 17 years, we have 3 beautiful daughters, Amy, Faye and Lily….all teenagers! There’s Archie, my black lab, Simba the cat and me being the only blokes in the house and they are rubbish in an argument…so I loose…a lot.

Outside we have 6 guinea fowl, 12 chickens, 3 geese and 7 pigs; 5 iron age and 2 saddlebacks. I produce my own air-dried bacon, salami, sausage and air-dried ham. My recent birthday gift of iron aged beauties (thanks Tim and Jez) will now allow me to rear my own animals and hopefully produce some very special products. There is nothing better than eating a meal that you have grown and reared yourself, it defiantly taste better. I think we really are trying to become Tom and Barbra or is it the Clampets?

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Andy Haigh

Group Finance Director

I joined Living Ventures in 2006 and it’s certainly been an eventful few years, new brands have launched, businesses have grown and we have sold a couple along the way - I have the grey hair to prove it!

As the Finance Director I get to keep a grip on all the money that everyone is spending, keep the board up to date with our financial position and provide a drop of business advice to help keep the finances in order and the bank manager happy. I also look after our IT team, making sure that everyone has the tools to do their jobs and we have the right systems in place. Family life and the great outdoors help me to take my mind off profit and loss accounts and budgets. I also help to coach the juniors at our local cricket club. Probably best not to talk about football at the moment. Let’s just say I don’t watch Match of the Day as much as I used to.

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Katie Muncaster

Group HR Director

Also known as Monkey Catcher, KT6, and the Angel of Death...In 2001 I graduated with a Psychology degree from Nottingham University and wondered how I could put this to some good use by working with some crazy people. My first graduate job was in a HR department for a big insurance company, but the misconduct there wasn’t interesting enough so I jumped on the LV train in 2003 when we were only 8 units big and have never looked back.

Living Ventures sponsored my CIPD qualification and I trained on the job, so being their first HR recruit, I've been lucky enough to grow and develop my career alongside the company for which I'll always be grateful.

I feel I have helped set up an effective and efficient HR department where honest and realistic advice is delivered to all who work at Living Ventures. The HR team, Jade, Lucy, Siobhan and I essentially ensure that we operate within the realms of employment law. We are in charge of implementing and advising on all HR policies and procedures across the company. My responsibilities include; employee benefits, disciplinary, appeal and grievance casework, issuing contracts and employee relations. I also oversee all training and development administration, recruitment, health and safety, pensions and anything else people related.

I've seen many people come and go over the years, and come back again. They always do. Loads of fun, loads of passion and great inspiring people to work with. I love my job.

At home, I have a beautiful little girl, Ella and my amazing husband Marc Hough (no, I didn’t take his surname) who mean the world to me. I love a trip to the theatre and a glass of wine with my lovely friends and taking in the sights of this truly fascinating world. New York, Rome and Nairobi being my favourite so far.

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Jonny Buckle

Director of Acquisitions

I always knew I wanted to be a Chartered Surveyor from the age of 14. In fact it was my Dad that told me, he said I couldn’t follow in the family building business as I didn’t have the hands for it, girls hands I think he said!

So with an Austin Reed suit (remember them) on my back and a pair of black brogues I was off for a summer placement with a little general practice in Leeds called Howell Brooks, long gone now. I was hooked, fast cars, lovely looking PA’s and you got paid to do deals in the pub at lunchtime. I could smell the money coming out of the office. So I thought, I will have a bit of that… that was 30 years ago and I am still waiting for that pay day.

GCSEs out of the way, a quick two years of Leeds College of Building in land surveying I arrive at Nottingham Trent University to do a HND in Land Administration, two of the best years of my life. Met some great fellow drinkers and scrapped a pass. I liked it that much I signed up for a further 4 years this time at Sheffield Hallam University as I was told never to darken the door of the City Nottingham again. Here I got a 2.2, did an amazing year out with Town Centre Securities in Leeds, married an America and had my daughter Abigail. Hell of a time.

Agency was the life for me and I got a job with DTZ in Leeds and worked for my mentor Rupert Thornton, one of the best Out of Town Retail agents in the UK. I owe him big time because he kept me out of the pub with all the other Leeds agents and I have had a fantastic career ever since. After 4 years working for GVA in Leeds and working my way up the ladder it was off to be a retail real estate broker in down town Philadelphia, in the states. Two thing about America brokers; they never take holidays and would sell their grandmother for a buck! After 4 1Ž2 years breaking my back it was time to come home to the mother land and back to GVA, this time Manchester.

It was time for a change so I went to become an Asset Manager at Land Securities, here I worked on Trinity Leeds the home of one of busiest Alchemist. Great fun and I got to learn all about P&L accounts although have to say I still don’t understand them. Two things I had never done was work in London and for an operator. So I landed at TRG the owners of Frankie & Benny’s, I had a fab 4 years learning the business of running restaurants and acquiring new units within the UK, finishing off as Head of Acquisitions. Then along came the speed bullet train called Living Venture’s. After meeting the board I was asked to join as Director of Acquisitions and I just love it. Every day is different and its fun acquiring units for all the brands.

So that’s me Jonny Buckle or JB as most people call me. Down time is spending time with my wife Kelly a lawyer from Essex and our two dogs Bella and Jasper in Harrogate. I enjoy golf, rugby, F1, going out for dinner and you guessed it with the boys down the pub on a Friday.

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Jeremy Roberts

Chairman

I started my career washing dishes in my Dad's hotel and some say I peaked too early! Hotels were in my blood so after school I went to Uni at Guildford where I spent four years pretending to study whilst enjoying myself far too much and therefore received the time honoured traditional reward for drinking and debauchery - a Desmond (2:2 to the uninitiated) Armed with my degree in Hotel Management and having spent a year learning how to speak Belgian French in Brussels, whilst drinking lots of beer in the Grand Place during my industrial year.

The world of work couldn't be avoided any longer so a trainee manager's job in London. I worked at the Cumberland Hotel Kitchens for 6 months - yes JB and anyone else who doubts my catering credentials I done my time - mostly chopping veg and carving hunks of meat but I did a bit of creative stuff too and loved every minute. I ended up via stints at various airport and west end hotels to a job as Food and Beverage Manager at the Cavendish Hotel in London and then moved up to Manchester as Hotel Manager of one of the airport Hotels. I then moved away from the corporate world of large hotel companies to the less corporate world of small hotel companies. I built and opened a new hotel (well not with my own two hands - it felt like I did actually) in Lancashire and successfully ran a large nightclub as well as two hotels and then I met Tim...

Tim and I joined forces in 1996 with a third partner Dave and set up Life Restaurants. We developed the Via Vita cafe bar - A Mediterranean concept all blues and oranges very nineties and I think we started that trend. Sorry ! We worked with a brewery on this who bought us out of the business two years later. Next came Life Cafe and after Dave's departure, to build houses and reconcile himself with his first love (his guitar!), finally came The Living Room which we developed to a major high street brand before selling it to concentrate on the Est Est Est estate we bought from TRG and converted those into our Gusto and Blackhouse brands. In the early days Tim worked Operations and Front of House and I did Back of House and the numbers. But that was a long tome ago. These days we have a great team of people enabling Tim and I to relax a bit and enjoy the business we have grown together. These days I am kept pretty busy with corporate and commercial matters and particularly the property elements our ever expanding empire.

Our business model enables Tim and I to assist the various investors we have and to direct the teams in each of the businesses whilst allowing them the autonomy needed to allow them to grow these businesses themselves. It's great fun and I can safely say that we are really living the original dream we had for Living Ventures all those years ago!

My full time job starts when I am not at work at home in Cheshire. Playing tennis or walking the dogs! I am married to Jane - we met at University WOW! Where did all that time go? We have three fantastic kids Alex who has inherited his Dad's good looks and singing voice - WHAT? Actually the music talent comes from Jane although I do still sing in the corridors as many people will testify to! Alex is studying Economics Liverpool University and Alice who loves anything and everything to do with horses is off to Unit this year too and finally Zac who is just good at anything involving a ball and beating his Dad at Tennis and most other sorts too though I still have the edge on the billiard table…for the moment.

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Simon Potts

Managing Director

I joined Living Ventures way back in 2004 – I’d been working in the industry for 5 years and fancied I knew a thing or two about the hospitality game. The company’s reputation was well established and its signature brand, The Living Room, was in its riotous pomp. I came on board as an AGM in the fine city of Leeds and was smitten from day one with the inimitable passion, scale and ambition of the business.

As an experienced manager, I couldn’t get over the level of detail and drive with which I was met by each and every person I came into contact with during my training. It’s a memory I’ve never forgotten and a flag I carry to this day, with the same demanded of The Alchemist Operations team.

Having moved into a GM role, the quality of the Living Ventures operation was made most clear when it was taken away in 2006 with the sale of The Living Room brand, along with all those who sailed in her. I didn’t hang around long under the new regime and via a quick detour of the dreary world of retail, I resurfaced as GM of Newcastle’s Gusto restaurant.

From here, Tim was kind enough (or maybe knew what he was about to let me in for…) to take a six month breather to do a little travelling before installing me as General Manager of Australasia. Playing a front line role in the development & establishing of this remarkable new, grandiose venture was a great privilege and education.

From there I moved to a Senior Operations role for the business in 2013, before taking the FOH lead in the opening of Manchester House – a definite leap from the norm & one that was made all the more fun by the presence of the BBC documentary cameras!

I took over the Artisan operation the following year and as de facto head of the independent brands in the LV estate, I was given great licence to innovate and evolve each of the businesses on top of the day to day management of the busy venues.

When The Alchemist investment deal was completed with Palatine in 2015, I was put forward as the MD and now enjoy an extremely challenging, wide ranging and thoroughly fun role, leading this vibrant and rapidly growing business. With the support of a fantastic operations team, I take great pride in our beautiful venues delivering everyday wonder to all of our guests.

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Mark Burville

Operations Director

My career in hospitality started on my 18th birthday, when I landed myself a bar job in an 80’s wine bar. Not particularly cool you say, but at the time I thought I was Tom Cruise; selling classics such as Blue Lagoon’s and certain activities on the beach! After a year or so, I received a call from a school friend who was a head chef working for a large corporate company who needed help organising his bar. I took the job and was promoted to manager within a couple of weeks.

Some 4 years later, I found my love, who is now my wife which led me to the bright lights of Manchester, working for Gaucho Grill. After a short time, I was asked to meet a gentleman from The Living Room (at the time - this was the place to be seen). I met with the legendary Clifford Hill who invited me for a second interview with the Operations Director. For some unknown reason this didn’t happen and I ended up in front of the main man: Tim Bacon. I remember being asked to sit at a board room table (which was big enough to seat around 30 people…) a scene from James Bond came to mind. I politely asked Tim not to sit a at the far end, and to cut a long story short I was offered a job (wrong title and pay structure which was definitely a positive – an offer I couldn’t refuse!)

During my company induction, I met with another southerner (and fellow Arsenal fan) Simon Potts – a good connection to have made it seems! Throughout my training, I was blown away by the passion of the trainers, the General Manager and everyone I came across as I worked my way through the large pile of manuals and became familiar with the company systems. The training was incredibly difficult at times, but the amount of time invested in me was phenomenal and worlds apart from other training experiences. After a couple of months in the role, the penny dropped and I totally understood why the training was so intense… the company ethos rang true, I understood my role subconsciously and it gave me the confidence to hold a senior position within the flagship store. I fell in love with Living Ventures and ran The Living Room, Manchester as Senior Assistant General Manager for a good few years. I left the company with a view to progress further and learn more.

Alchemist and beyond - A few years later, (a little wiser) with some brilliant and not so great experiences under my belt, I came back to Living Ventures and to what I always knew to be the best in the industry. I was asked to take the role of General Manager for The Alchemist in Spinningfields and this is when I fell in love with the brand. Working with some incredibly talented individuals and with a huge task in hand this was by far the most challenging role I had undertaken but I also had the most fun.

I was offered the chance to step up into the world of Operations which was an exciting opportunity. As the brand developed, so did the team around me, all coming from within. I feel a duty to offer the kind of opportunities that were given to me to those people who work hard, show passion and commitment and loyalty to the brand. All the ops team have conveyed this dedication and have grown alongside the business. We wouldn’t be where we are today without the fervent operations team we have, including the fantastic teams who support from behind the scenes in our HQ department. We have grown incredibly fast and are always cautious not to let the failure of success beat us. A lot of what I do is about maintaining what has got us thus far; taking passion and pride in everything we do.

Behind every success story is a loving and supportive family and I truly believe I would not be where I am today without mine. My Wife Emma and three children, Hallie, Toby and Florence are the drive behind my passion to succeed for the company and for them. (As I’m sure you can appreciate keeping three ladies happy can be somewhat challenging at times!)

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Victoria Stewart

Finance Director

Kieran Lawton

Investor Director (Palatine)

Gary Tipper

Investor Director Palatine

Gary has twenty years private equity experience and is one of the founding partners of Palatine Private Equity. Gary has been involved in the Manchester professional and financial community for over 25 years and during this time was actively involved in many well known high profile deals.

Gary is on the Board of WEALTH at work, Hallmark Hotels and MJ Quinn and was on the board of Air Energi and XLN Telecom prior to the exit from the investments.

Gary is married with two sons and is an avid follower of Manchester City

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Andrew Haigh

Non Executive Director

I joined Living Ventures in 2006 and it’s certainly been an eventful few years, new brands have launched, businesses have grown and we have sold a couple along the way - I have the grey hair to prove it!

As the Finance Director I get to keep a grip on all the money that everyone is spending, keep the board up to date with our financial position and provide a drop of business advice to help keep the finances in order and the bank manager happy. I also look after our IT team, making sure that everyone has the tools to do their jobs and we have the right systems in place. Family life and the great outdoors help me to take my mind off profit and loss accounts and budgets. I also help to coach the juniors at our local cricket club. Probably best not to talk about football at the moment. Let’s just say I don’t watch Match of the Day as much as I used to.

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Paul Campbell

Non Executive Director

Paul has been involved in the creation, development and sale of a number of the UK's most highly regarded leisure businesses. In the restaurant industry these include Gourmet Burger Kitchen and PizzaExpress. Before this, he founded one of the UK's leading group of Health and Fitness clubs.

Paul's experience within these businesses includes brand development and roll out, international expansion, corporate and financial strategy and exit planning.

Earlier in his career, he qualified as a Chartered Accountant with PriceWaterhouse, before running the Corporate Finance advisory business of FTSE100 company, The Capita Group PLC. In the 1990’s he grew and successfully sold a 100 site sports facility and fitness club business, before joining the Board of PizzaExpress PLC. Following the sale of PizzaExpress in 2003 for £278m, he founded The Clapham House Group PLC as an AIM investment shell. In 2010 Clapham House was sold to Nando’s Group Holdings Limited for an enterprise value of £40m. He established Hill Capital Partners to provide focussed private investment and corporate strategy for the leisure and restaurant sectors and as an alternative to more traditional sources of capital and advice. Paul also advises a number of corporate advisory businesses and private equity funds.

Paul is regularly invited to speak and publish articles about the leisure and restaurant industries and has presented at a number of national events. Paul speaks passionately about these industries and also on a range of business matters. Please email details of your event through the Contact section of this site.

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Jeremy Roberts

Chairman

I started my career washing dishes in my Dad's hotel and some say I peaked too early! Hotels were in my blood so after school I went to Uni at Guildford where I spent four years pretending to study whilst enjoying myself far too much and therefore received the time honoured traditional reward for drinking and debauchery - a Desmond (2:2 to the uninitiated) Armed with my degree in Hotel Management and having spent a year learning how to speak Belgian French in Brussels, whilst drinking lots of beer in the Grand Place during my industrial year.

The world of work couldn't be avoided any longer so a trainee manager's job in London. I worked at the Cumberland Hotel Kitchens for 6 months - yes JB and anyone else who doubts my catering credentials I done my time - mostly chopping veg and carving hunks of meat but I did a bit of creative stuff too and loved every minute. I ended up via stints at various airport and west end hotels to a job as Food and Beverage Manager at the Cavendish Hotel in London and then moved up to Manchester as Hotel Manager of one of the airport Hotels. I then moved away from the corporate world of large hotel companies to the less corporate world of small hotel companies. I built and opened a new hotel (well not with my own two hands - it felt like I did actually) in Lancashire and successfully ran a large nightclub as well as two hotels and then I met Tim...

Tim and I joined forces in 1996 with a third partner Dave and set up Life Restaurants. We developed the Via Vita cafe bar - A Mediterranean concept all blues and oranges very nineties and I think we started that trend. Sorry ! We worked with a brewery on this who bought us out of the business two years later. Next came Life Cafe and after Dave's departure, to build houses and reconcile himself with his first love (his guitar!), finally came The Living Room which we developed to a major high street brand before selling it to concentrate on the Est Est Est estate we bought from TRG and converted those into our Gusto and Blackhouse brands. In the early days Tim worked Operations and Front of House and I did Back of House and the numbers. But that was a long tome ago. These days we have a great team of people enabling Tim and I to relax a bit and enjoy the business we have grown together. These days I am kept pretty busy with corporate and commercial matters and particularly the property elements our ever expanding empire.

Our business model enables Tim and I to assist the various investors we have and to direct the teams in each of the businesses whilst allowing them the autonomy needed to allow them to grow these businesses themselves. It's great fun and I can safely say that we are really living the original dream we had for Living Ventures all those years ago!

My full time job starts when I am not at work at home in Cheshire. Playing tennis or walking the dogs! I am married to Jane - we met at University WOW! Where did all that time go? We have three fantastic kids Alex who has inherited his Dad's good looks and singing voice - WHAT? Actually the music talent comes from Jane although I do still sing in the corridors as many people will testify to! Alex is studying Economics Liverpool University and Alice who loves anything and everything to do with horses is off to Unit this year too and finally Zac who is just good at anything involving a ball and beating his Dad at Tennis and most other sorts too though I still have the edge on the billiard table…for the moment.

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Sue Crimes

Chief Executive Officer

Like a lot of people I certainly didn’t expect a career in catering. In fact, I was still contemplating what I wanted to be when I grew up when, bored of my various studies I took a job in a bar in Chester to have some fun.

It was here waiting tables one Saturday night that my ‘talents’ were spotted by Dave Hinds who, alongside Tim Bacon and Jeremy Roberts owned a concept called Via Vita and were just about to open their new site in Chester – next door to the restaurant I was working in. Dave asked me to come and work for this exciting new venture in town so I went along to check it out.

It was here I met Tim Bacon – at the time known as General Operations Director (or GOD for short…) Jeremy Roberts and John Branagan. I was instantly inspired by their passion and drive for the industry and accepted a junior management training position there and then. Within a week, I realised that this was it – this was the company I had been waiting for, this is what I wanted to do. When, a couple of days later, Tim offered me a more senior management position in their Bristol site I packed my bags, said goodbye to friends and family and never looked back….

Upon arriving in Bristol I went through an intense management training program which strengthened my belief in the company. After a year as assistant general manager Tim, Jez and Dave sold the business to open their new concept in Liverpool – Life Café. I was lucky enough to be offered a management position in this new venture, especially as Tim, Jeremey and John were the unit management team – and me!

Not surprisingly Life Café became a massive success and changed the drinking and dining culture of Liverpool. Working here alongside Tim, Jeremy and John I learnt a hell of a lot very quickly! Yes, there were fights, tears and tantrums from time to time (there still are to be fair) but it was a truly fantastic experience that certainly set me up for my future success with the company.

It was here that I also began my close working relationship with Tony Griffin – at the time Life Café bar tender extraordinaire. He quickly rose through the ranks to become my deputy and has continued to be by my side ever since – easing the pressures working life and still making me laugh today.

After Life Café, I continued on the journey with Tim and Jez and in 2003 became Concept Manager for The Living Room. Overseeing operations in all 13 Living Room sites and heavily involved in opening new sites. With the acquisition of Est Est Est in 2005 I was approached with a new challenge and given the role of Director of Training and Development and responsible for re-branding the Est estate into Gusto. With the implementation of Living Ventures product quality and service we saw an increase in sales of 68% in the first year post re-brand.

In 2009, following the success of the Gusto rebrand, I took the role of Operations Director where I developed and opened other Living Ventures brands including; The Oast House, Botanist, The Alchemist and Artisan.

After joining forces with Palatine Private Equity in 2012 to roll out the Gusto concept I was offered the role of Managing Director of Gusto. At this point it was time for me to say goodbye to multiple concept operations with LV and focus purely on Gusto and this great opportunity to take it from an already successful brand to a nationally recognised concept with my amazing team – Tony, Vanessa, Graham, Simone, Charlotte, Morgan, Tom and James, without whom Gusto would not be where it is today.

Now, 17 years on, I’m living back in Chester where my LV story began. Truthfully, this is more out of necessity than choice as what can I say – I’m a full time working mother to a 4 year old son and the retired grandparents come in very handy! I’m now enjoying living in the Cheshire countryside with my other half Lee and our beautiful boy Oscar.

My passion for my job and Gusto is all consuming although I do still manage to fit in some other passions (apart my wonderful son of course) which are shopping, fashion, more shopping and lazy days in the sun with a chilled sauvignon and a beautiful sunset…

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Tony Griffin

Operations Director

In the early years I was studying engineering at collage set for a future in building things but like a few people that work in this industry a part time job in catering and the after work fun lead me to drop out of collage and follow my heart, much to the delight of my old man...

In 1997 I meandered into Via Vita with shoulder length hair and fur coat asking for a bartending job! This is where the journey really began. Since joining the company as a bar tender I have done a fair bit of everything and had a few laughs along the way and had Sue Crimes with me every step of the way! I became bar manager of Life Café Liverpool and then went on to become Assistant General Manager and then General Manager. I returned to my home land of Birmingham to finally become General Manager of The Living Room and broke all company records for spend per square foot at all times with Christmas being my forte. My skills and expertise were noticed by the Board and I was plucked from the brand before its sale to help the rebrand of Est Est Est into Gusto as the Operations and then Senior Operations manager. I was part of the opening and set up process of The Alchemist, New World Trading Company and Artisan working with fantastic teams, however my passion for Gusto is such that all our dreams have now come true as I now sit on the board for Gusto Restaurants Ltd as the Operations Director and with our new partners, Palatine, we have an opening program of a new Gusto every 12 weeks for the next 4 years...see you all in 2019! I live in the wonderful city of Birmingham, well, Solihull actually with my wonderful Fiancé, Star, and I am the very proud father of Jasper, a complete legend! So now with a family and Gusto Restaurants going as strong as we are, I am looking forward to the future very much indeed.

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Gemma Peel

Finance Director

My accountancy career started many, many years ago and I won’t say how many as that would give my age away. After the obligatory 3 years in the audit department of EY it was time to move into industry and what a better place to start than McDonalds. I gained great experience there but couldn’t turn down the opportunity, after a few years, to go and work for a Liverpool based TV company called Mersey Television. There was also the added advantage that the volume of my burger consumption reduced significantly in time for my wedding which was shortly after.

Mersey Television later became Lime Pictures and is best known for producing Hollyoaks, TOWIE and Geordie Shore.
I spent a fantastic 13 years there, 10 years as FD, during which time the company enjoyed significant growth and success. My favourite memory is sitting in between Joey Essex and Mark Wright when we won a BAFTA for TOWIE. It wasn’t all hard work!



I am delighted now to have joined the Gusto team as Finance Director. Food and wine have always been a passion, especially food cooked by someone other than myself. I’ve only been here a short time but I can see why people don’t want to leave.

When not looking after the finances of Gusto, I love to spend time with my husband and 2 children, dine out with friends and run tough mudders (well one so far).

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Gary Tipper

Investor Director Palatine

Gary has twenty years private equity experience and is one of the founding partners of Palatine Private Equity. Gary has been involved in the Manchester professional and financial community for over 25 years and during this time was actively involved in many well known high profile deals.

Gary is on the Board of WEALTH at work, Hallmark Hotels and MJ Quinn and was on the board of Air Energi and XLN Telecom prior to the exit from the investments.

Gary is married with two sons and is an avid follower of Manchester City

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Beth Houghton

Investor Director Palatine

After a promising career as a ballet dancer was cut short Beth decided to become a management consultant and spend the next 10 years working in exotic locations including Singapore, Paris and Slough.

Once her ambition to work in Wichita, Kansas had been realised she embarked on a career change and studied for an MBA at Manchester Business School. She emerged from business school with an MBA under her arm and was the first investment employee (outside of the Partners) at Palatine Private Equity. She then discovered that everything she learnt at business school was defunct and under the tutelage of Gary Tipper learnt that investment decisions are not actually made on Discounted Cash Flows but Gary’s gut! Eight years on she is still at Palatine and is working on developing a gut of her own largely thanks to the excellent pasta and pizza dishes at Gusto.

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Andrew Haigh

Non Executive Director

I joined Living Ventures in 2006 and it’s certainly been an eventful few years, new brands have launched, businesses have grown and we have sold a couple along the way - I have the grey hair to prove it!

As the Finance Director I get to keep a grip on all the money that everyone is spending, keep the board up to date with our financial position and provide a drop of business advice to help keep the finances in order and the bank manager happy. I also look after our IT team, making sure that everyone has the tools to do their jobs and we have the right systems in place. Family life and the great outdoors help me to take my mind off profit and loss accounts and budgets. I also help to coach the juniors at our local cricket club. Probably best not to talk about football at the moment. Let’s just say I don’t watch Match of the Day as much as I used to.

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Paul Campbell

Non Executive Director

Paul has been involved in the creation, development and sale of a number of the UK's most highly regarded leisure businesses. In the restaurant industry these include Gourmet Burger Kitchen and PizzaExpress. Before this, he founded one of the UK's leading group of Health and Fitness clubs.

Paul's experience within these businesses includes brand development and roll out, international expansion, corporate and financial strategy and exit planning.

Earlier in his career, he qualified as a Chartered Accountant with PriceWaterhouse, before running the Corporate Finance advisory business of FTSE100 company, The Capita Group PLC. In the 1990’s he grew and successfully sold a 100 site sports facility and fitness club business, before joining the Board of PizzaExpress PLC. Following the sale of PizzaExpress in 2003 for £278m, he founded The Clapham House Group PLC as an AIM investment shell. In 2010 Clapham House was sold to Nando’s Group Holdings Limited for an enterprise value of £40m. He established Hill Capital Partners to provide focussed private investment and corporate strategy for the leisure and restaurant sectors and as an alternative to more traditional sources of capital and advice. Paul also advises a number of corporate advisory businesses and private equity funds.

Paul is regularly invited to speak and publish articles about the leisure and restaurant industries and has presented at a number of national events. Paul speaks passionately about these industries and also on a range of business matters. Please email details of your event through the Contact section of this site.

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