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Meet Sarah Willingham

The business side

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Sarah and David on changes in the restaurant industry.

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Place settings with chopsticks

How to survive economic downturn


"During economic downturn people tend to trade down and its the mid market restaurants that suffer the most".

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Menu on table

How to price menus and work with suppliers

"When I price a menu I start by looking at who I'm aiming the menu at - understand what people are going to buy".

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Open sign on restaurant door

How to start up

"Ask youself where you going to put your restaurant. What kind of concept have you got? Where will it be best placed? What are the local rents and rates?"

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Background

Sarah is one of the youngest, most successful people in the food and leisure industry. She was recently acknowledged as one of the "35 most successful women under 35" in the UK, featured in the Courvoisier Top 500 and in Business Weekly's Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2007.

When you go into a local community find out who your market is. What do they do? Where do they eat? How can you entice them into your restaurant?

Sarah Willingham

With two business degrees under her belt, the Staffordshire born, self-confessed foodie focused her attention on a career in restaurants and leisure.

For over a decade the proud mother of two children has managed some of the biggest brands in the restaurant industry, from Planet Hollywood in France to Pizza Express International where she oversaw restaurant openings in 12 countries.

In 2004 Sarah was part of a consortium which acquired The Bombay Bicycle Club in London.

She swiftly turned it from a loss-making business into a profitable one, growing it from six restaurants to 17. It is now the largest chain of Indian restaurants in the UK.

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