Putting health back in the high street eating out market

Name: 

Christian Mouysset

Role and company: 

Co-owner of Hummus Bros

Company turnover (and most recent ebitda/most relevant profitability metric): 

£1.5m and 20 per cent EBITDA pre-central costs.

Employee numbers: 

50

Growth forecast for the next three years: 

We’d like to grow from three units to seven units in the next 18 months in London, thereafter we are looking to grow outside London and abroad.

In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace: 

The high street eating out market is dominated by sandwich, sushi, salad, Mexican and burger chains. We are the only chain of mediterranean restaurants to offer healthy, filling meals based on hummus with a selection of toppings and accompanied by fluffy pitta bread.

What’s the big vision for your business? 

To roll out a chain of mediterranean restaurants in the UK and abroad and in the long run to launch a brand of hummus in the supermarkets.

Current level of international business, and future aspirations: 

We source most of our ingredients from the UK but there are a few ingredients like the chickpeas and tahini that we cannot source in the UK and we get these from Russia, Turkey or Ethiopia. We are also looking to open branches abroad. In fact, we receive many requests to open franchises abroad from places as far as Jamaica, the US and the Middle East, many of which we are considering seriously but would like to be more established in London before doing so.

Biggest career setback and what you learned from it: 

Starting out when we were very young and our network of contacts was very limited making it very hard for example to raise funds to expand the business. As this network has expanded it has made expanding the business much easier.

What makes you mad in business today?

A basic lack of computer literacy amongst potential employees. Businesses of all kinds, including our own, need to hire people that know how to use computers. Everyone at Hummus Bros uses Google Apps. This helps with all kinds of administrative tasks, problem solving and ideas sharing. For instance, we have an online spreadsheet, where staff add challenges and suggestions for discussion in our managers’ meeting. As well as encouraging democracy, having the document open for everyone to input simultaneously just makes the process of acquiring feedback that little bit simpler and more effective.  

What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years? 

The biggest change in our market over the next few years is likely to be increasing demand amongst consumers for businesses to take a more sustainable approach to their products and services for a price they can afford. At Hummus Bros we’re constantly looking for ways to reduce the carbon footprint of our meals to help differentiate us in a highly competitive market. 

Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow? If not, what can be done to improve things? 

Yes and no; we have recently raised a round of equity funding to expand our business which was helped by the EIS tax incentive. On the other hand banks have become much more reluctant to invest in small companies than they used to, although the UK government has been actively trying to encourage bank lending.

How would others describe your leadership style?

I think that they would describe it as pace-setting – I try to set an example that the team should follow.

Your biggest personal extravagance?

I love travelling and try as much as possible to discover new places and new people, nearby and far away.

You’ve got two minutes with the prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK’s independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper: 

The UK government is talking about the constant need for austerity and the poor economic prospects without any long term goals and rarely highlighting positive news. That is discouraging customers to spend, business owners to take steps to expand their business and investors to inject money into small and medium companies.

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