A former boss of Wagamama and the O2 live events arena is taking on another big hospitality sector job as the first chief executive of The Ivy Collection, the upmarket restaurant group.
Sky News understands that David Campbell, who left the Japanese noodle chain last year, has been installed in the new role by Richard Caring, The Ivy’s billionaire owner.
Mr Campbell, who is said to have joined in the last few days, has also been appointed as executive chairman of Bill’s Restaurants, the casual dining chain also owned by Mr Caring.
The appointment of Mr Campbell comes as The Ivy continues a breakneck expansion across affluent locations throughout the UK.
For decades a single-site operation beloved of celebrities near Leicester Square in London’s West End, Mr Caring’s ownership has sparked a concerted effort to diversify The Ivy brand.
Nearly 30 cafe-restaurants have opened bearing the famous name, with further openings planned in Dublin, Leeds, Manchester, Norwich and London’s Canary Wharf financial district.
The planned openings provide a counterpoint to the crises afflicting dozens of lower-cost chains which have been caught in the grip of high street turmoil which has forced hundreds of closures and thousands of job losses.
Mr Campbell’s arrival underlines his credentials as one of the British leisure industry’s leading executives.
He ran Wagamama for more than four years, a period in which the company’s value more than doubled.
The chain, which has expanded into the US, is now courting offers from prospective buyers.
Prior to his role there, Mr Campbell held roles including running AEG Europe, owner of the O2 in Greenwich, and a brief spell in the commercial operations of Formula One when the sport was controlled by Bernie Ecclestone.
His task as the executive chairman of Bill’s may prove to be more challenging than his Ivy Collection post.
Although Bill’s, which trades from 82 restaurants across the UK, has withstood many of the pressures hurting rivals like Byron, Gaucho and Prezzo, higher costs have hurt its profitability.
One source said that Mr Campbell had also been consulting for Soho House, the international network of private members’ clubs, since the start of the year.
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Soho House is part-owned by Mr Caring and was revealed by Sky News several months ago to be examining a flotation in New York.
Mr Campbell, who could not be reached for comment, is understood to be planning to remain on the board of Grupo Pacha, the Spanish hospitality and entertainment group.