Atul Kochhar, the first Indian chef in the world to receive a Michelin star, opened Kanishka in a joint partnership with Tina English, a recognised innovator of London’s Indian dining scene, to huge media fanfare in March 2019. Located in London on Mayfair’s Maddox Street, the 130-cover restaurant showcases the cuisine of north east India and particularly the Seven Sister States, with the food reflecting the mixed culture of Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism.
In May 2019, Kochhar and English announced they would once again join forces to launch their second site this autumn, Mathura Restaurant & Bar, a 5,000 sq ft, 200-cover restaurant located in a former Westminster Fire Station in London.
This was an extremely complicated brief. Kanishka required a holding company to be created for Atul Kochhar and Tina English and beneath this limited companies. In addition, the business needed representation in an investment round for a multi-million pound deal from both institutional and angel investors.
Gannons were required to act as an investor relations bureau, ensuring the best deal for a tight knit investment team by way of tax break opportunities, together with end goals and exit plans. The chosen law firm would need to be extremely approachable, solid and independent, whilst having a hands-on professional approach.
Why did you choose Gannons?
I had previously worked with Gannons on a number of projects, including for the sale of the Cinnamon Club in 2015. More recently, I worked with the firm on a very complicated sale involving 40 shareholders. I had an outstanding experience with them, so when it came to initiating the legalities for the Kanishka and Mathura deals, I had no hesitation, as they really are quite an extraordinary legal firm.
I knew from previously working with Gannons, that the team you initially meet – which always involves the senior lawyers, will be the team that undertake the work from start to finish. Catherine, the Founder, is an extremely reassuring woman, who is both generous of spirit and heart. She’s straightforward, edgy and savvy and you absolutely know she has your best interests at heart. Helen Curtis a Partner, is a very smart, articulate, tactful and approachable lady. She is an absolute powerhouse of information, again, very reassuring.
Tell us more about the service provided to you from Gannons
We required Gannons to act as our quasi general counsel, providing advice on all aspects of the commercial requirements for Kanishka and Mathura. As part of this, the team needed to apply for SEIS and EIS advance assurance, together with creating a Shareholders Agreement, Articles of Association for review by our investors and employment agreements for directors and staff.
What challenges (if any) did you face?
The project started in the late summer of 2018 and concluded in December 2018 – so incredibly fast turnaround for such a complex deal. We were under enormous pressure to complete, because we had put in offers with property agents on two restaurants and other bidders were chomping at our heels.
We had money in the bank but couldn’t proceed until we had EIS in place and as any business person knows, delays on EIS are legendary. The timely intervention and sheer doggedness of Gannons, who literally stalked EIS daily, meant the scheme was set up by late November – incredible
Due to Gannons exceptional organisational skills, they developed an unprecedented amount of documentation to meet the tight timelines. They truly are an efficient machine.
Interestingly, as a business person, people assume you know everything about tax and EIS. Gannons don’t assume. They make you feel okay to ask questions. They explain your options in a very user-friendly and competent manner, to ensure you eventually become an expert in that field. I believe the key to business success is to employ people who are better than you and Gannons encapsulate this.
Did Gannons provide any services over and above your brief and expectations?
Absolutely. Even though it wasn’t part of their remit, the team handled all communications with the property agents. They also attended our initial kick-off sessions with the investors – which was instrumental in adding reassurance. Helen dealt with the investors on a one-on-one basis and supported me in presentations. Our investors are very savvy business people who don’t suffer fools. Gannons are trusted and indeed loved by them, to the point that they want to work with the team on their own private projects.
What would you say about working with Gannons?
There is something special about Gannons. They truly become part of your business and team. Once the deal is done, they don’t go away and it helps that they’re also really good fun. I think Catherine’s ethos and integrity permeates the business.
Our journey with Gannons is just starting. They have provided us with a platform to grow for the future and they’ve given me the confidence to grow my business. I think they’re absolutely invaluable to people who think they can’t do it – they can, because the team at Gannons will support and teach you.
I believe any hospitality operator would be very lucky to work with Gannons. They don’t tell you what you want to hear, they tell you what you need to know.
Helen is a partner and heads up the corporate team, advising start-ups, SME companies, partnerships, entrepreneurs, investors and shareholders. Dual-qualified in the UK and USA and a qualified solicitor since 1998 you couldn't ask for more experience.