Chilango could ‘become the next Chipotle’, says owner

Sameer Rizvi, CEO of RD Capital Partners, has predicted that Mexican restaurant chain Chilango could become the “next Chipotle” after he bought it out of administration in August. 

In an annual letter published by the investment company, Rizvi said Chilango is “one of the strongest brands in the UK hospitality sector”, adding that the restaurant has “a clean balance sheet with no debt”. 

Chilango, which was originally founded in 2007 by Skype employees Partaker and Dan Houghton, was sold out of administration in August 2020 by RD in a deal which saw the business retain 130 staff members. 

Rizvi has now stated that he wants the chain to “become one of the three largest Mexican restaurant groups in the UK”, with plans to have more sites than rival store Barburrito before the end of 2021, and become larger than Tortilla before 2025.

He said: “Chilango is one of the strongest brands in the UK hospitality sector. There is no question about it. The corporate culture is vibrant and second to none. At the restaurant level, the business has one of the highest EBITDA margins in the industry. 

“This is due to the company’s robust operations. In addition, the quality of our ingredients and taste of the various menu offerings are market leading. In a “new normal” of being stuck at home, no other food delivers as well as Mexican food. So why did the business get into trouble as the lockdowns started?”

He added: “The previous shareholders had funded growth with the wrong type of capital. They had also focused on growth and not profitable growth. 

“They had made a number of poor decisions when it came to site selection and lease negotiation. In addition, the head office was unusually bloated for a business of this size.”

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