Luke Johnson is one of the best known business speakers in the U.K. A knowledgeable, experienced entrepreneur and man behind several instantly recognizable high street brands, such as Pizza Express, Luke’s speLuke Johnson is one of the best known business speakers in the U.K. A knowledgeable, experienced entrepreneur and man behind several instantly recognizable high street brands, such as Pizza Express, Luke’s speeches are always cultured, entertaining and provocative. He speaks passionately about the contribution of entrepreneurialism to the good of society, and the personal value of optimism, determination and self-reliance.eches are always cultured, entertaining and provocative. He speaks passionately about the contribution of entrepreneurialism to the good of society, and the personal value of optimism, determination and self-reliance.
Luke was Chairman of Channel 4 Television Corporation from January 2004 to January 2010. In that time he appointed a new CEO, restructured the board and saw the organisation enjoy record ratings, revenues and surplus. He also served as Chairman of the trustees of the £150m Channel 4 staff pension plan.
Luke studied medicine at Oxford University and graduated in 1983. He then worked as a media analyst at stockbroker Grieveson Grant (subsequently Kleinwort Benson Securities).
Luke took control of PizzaExpress with partners in 1993 and subsequently became Chairman. He grew the business from 12 owned restaurants to over 250, and the share price from 40p to over 900p. He sold out in 1999 and started Signature Restaurants, which owned The Ivy and Le Caprice, as well as the Belgo chain, selling the business in 2005. He started the Strada restaurant concept from scratch and took the chain to 30 units and sold it in late 2005. The total proceeds from these two disposals were in excess of £90 million.
In the period 1993 to date he has been involved as a Director/owner of various quoted companies in retailing, pubs and bars, parcel delivery and maritime commerce, including Whittard of Chelsea, My Kinda Town, Nightfreight and American Port Services. Luke was co-founder/owner and Director of InterQuest Group plc, before stepping down in 2010. He is a former investor in fresh fish distributor Seafood Holdings, which was sold for £45m in 2010.
In May 2010 Luke became a strategic investor in Beer & Partners, the UK’s largest business investment agency. He is also Chairman of Fast Track, the UK’s leading networking events and research company focusing on Britain’s top-performing private companies. Luke is a non-executive director of art publisher Phaidon Press. In August 2010 Luke assumed control of Feng Sushi, a London-based chain of Japanese restaurants specialising in home delivery, and in September 2010 he purchased a majority stake in casual-dining firm Ego Group. Luke is also chairman/part-owner of Automative Repair Solutions, the largest bodyshop group in the South-East of England, with revenues of over £50m. In May 2011 Luke became part owner of Bread Ltd, the firm behind the Gail’s Artisan Bakery chain.
He is the current chair of the Royal Society of Arts. He is also the Chairman of Risk Capital Partners Ltd, a private equity house and the part owner and chairman of Superbrands, Giraffe Restaurants, Patisserie Valerie and Baker and Spice. He is a major owner and director of the market leader in car park equipment, APT Controls.
Luke writes a weekly column on entrepreneurship for The Financial Times and wrote a weekly column on business matters for The Sunday Telegraph for eight years until 2006. He also writes a monthly column for Management Today.
His new book, “Start It Up: Why Running Your Own Business Is Easier Than You Think” was published by Penguin in 2011.
He is married with three children and lives in London.
There are few speakers to equal Luke’s credibility and breadth of experience. Luke has delivered talks in many formats, including after-dinner speeches, lunchtime salons, management off-sites, trade events, board briefings, motivational events and public seminars.