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ASK-Zizzi owner acquires dining discount clubs Tastecard and Gourmet Society

3 min read

04 August 2015

Former deputy editor

Bridgepoint Development Capital – the owner of restaurant chains ASK Italian and Zizzi – has acquired Tastecard and Gourmet Society, which provides it with access to 4m British food lovers.

The private equity firm started 2015 with the £250m acquisition of the ASK-Zizzi group in February. It bought the Italian chains from restaurant operator Gondola Holdings – the former owner of PizzExpress and Byron Burger.

The deal came amid a ten per cent sales increase and provided Bridgepoint with 250 restaurants across the UK. Although the firm has investments in healthcare, financial services, manufacturing and more, it seems the food industry is of key focus for the future.

Acquired from Dutch gift card group DIDIX, Tastecard and the Gourmet Society are the UK’s top two restaurant discount card clubs and collectively they provide discounts at more than 10,000 restaurants nationwide – more than half of which are independent.

“We have built a strong business over the last decade which has drawn interest from a number of potential investment partners,” said Matt Turner, chief executive of Tastecard and the Gourmet Society.

“Bridgepoint’s reputation, belief in the business and track record with consumer brands convinced us that they are the right partner to support us through the next exciting phase of our growth.”

Read more on developments in the food industry:

It costs consumers an annual fee of £80 with Tastecard or £70 with the Gourmet Society for a card, and respectively they have three million and one million members. Eateries signed up, meanwhile, include the likes of La Tasca, Prezzo, Loch Fyne, Beefeater Grill and, of course, ASK-Zizzi.

Bridgepoint noted that £78bn was spent by consumers on eating last year. Regular diners eat out around 34 times annually, which spikes to 45 times among discount card users – as such, dining club members result in 30 million covers a year across partner restaurants.

Alan Payne, partner of Bridgepoint Development Capital, added: “Discounted dining is now an established feature of the growing eating out market, a sector that is being increasingly driven by the technology needs of the consumer.

“With our support, we are confident that Tastecard and the Gourmet Society will grow their member and restaurant numbers, broaden their geographic coverage and extend their technological capability.”