The founder of Goodman — RBC: "At some point, our middle class was canceled"

The founder of Goodman restaurants Mikhail Zelman two years ago sold his business in Russia and moved to London. In an interview with RBC, he spoke about the reasons for departure, and how Russian business looks like through the eyes of a Londoner.
Origin source
"There is more passion to develop Goodman»

- What is the your business is now in London?

- Now I have three steakhouse Goodman. Zagat Magazine [influential American publication, rating restaurants] assigned us a rating 27 points for food - the highest rate among the steak houses in London. There are several institutions with the same estimate, but above us, no one saw. But new Goodman we do not want to build - there is no passion to develop this network as we did before. I have an idea for a new steak house, but it will be called differently. Most likely, Zelman Steak House.

- The new concept is very different from Goodman?

- No, just the world is not standing still. We are in the last 100 years, we began to live twice as long, and we, the people, now almost ten times as much. We have to coexist different generations. Goodman has its target audience, and I have an idea how to bring meat culture to the younger generation.

- Who is the primary audience for the Goodman and who will be the new project?

- In our restaurants we go people who have alreadyin a good way, it was held. Owners, CEOs. As a rule, these are people over the age of forty. And I want to make an institution for children twenties-thirties. Not to say that I had a midlife crisis, and I was drawn to the young people. I just often see as we come to the restaurant the young guys with their parents, and they like to Goodman. Just its value and how it looks, with their ideas about the world and the perception of not the same. I want to adapt the restaurant to their generation. In the new steakhouse, for example, will be more of burgers, their lineup will be combined with the steaks.

- And how to develop your other project in London - Burger & Lobster?

- We opened a restaurant in New York. We have six establishments in London, the seventh in the capital of Wales, Cardiff. And the two systems. Plans for Burger & Lobster we have ambitious: in the coming two years we will open 12 more restaurants.

- Will the new country presence?

- We sold the franchise in the Middle East and Scandinavia. The first restaurant opened in the United Arab Emirates. We are looking for partners in Asia and in CentralEurope. I hope that one day will come to Moscow to open Burger & Lobster.

Mikhail Zelman

In Russia

Born in Moscow in 1977. He graduated from the Moscow Open University of Law. When the future restaurateur was 15 years old, he got a job at the Russian Commodity Exchange, becoming the youngest broker in its history. However, according to him, he had already decided to link their lives with catering. In 1999, 22-year-old Selman opened its first restaurant in Moscow - "San Michel" on Tverskaya. In 2003, he with the help of the president of the Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company, Iskander Makhmudov and his business partner Andrei Bokarev founded "Arpikom" (controls Goodman restaurants, "Kolbasoff", "Le Gateau", "Filimonova & Yankel" "Mom's pasta" ), won in the same year "Restaurateur of the year" award. It is believed that Makhmudov directly owned half the business. By 2007, "Arpikom" became one of the leaders of the Russian sector of HoReCa.

And abroad

A year later, Zelman opened his first steak house Goodman in London. In 2010, Zéman contracted the franchise of the American fast food network Wendy`s. Restaurateur promised the Americans to open 180 outlets in 10 years. But by 2014, when Wendy`s announced his departure from Russia, there were only eight restaurants this network. In 2011, there were reports that Zelman looking for buyers for its stake in "Arpikome". RBC sources called for $ 120 million. At the end of 2013 Zelman has sold its stake in "Arpikome" Mahmudov came out of all Russian assets, retaining eight restaurants in London. I went to London, which now develops Goodman and Burger & Lobster (manages networks Global Craftsmen Group). The transaction amount was not called. According to Forbes magazine, in the middle of the 2013 Russian revolution "Arpikoma" projects amounted to $ 200 million.

- That is, in Moscow the franchise is not for sale?

- No, I did want to come and discover.

- Offers of Russian restaurateurs about buying a franchise was?

- A lot, we even thought about how to make the franchise. But, unfortunately, lobsters and meat fell under the sanctions. While Russia is now possible to find good meat, in this regard, a lot of progress. And St.connection with this, I want all the people who were involved in the development of animal husbandry, to thank and congratulate. I am personally very proud of what has happened in the market, this is one of our conquests.

- You mean the import substitution for meat?

- In a nutshell: we have never had beef cattle, was just milk. But there were enthusiasts who have started to develop it over the last ten years. This Nikolai Bobin (agricultural holding "Zeros") in Lipetsk, this Voronezh guys ... a lot of them. Therefore, the meat we could find, but the lobster, alas, no.

"Import substitution - is unacceptable hypocrisy"

- You have left some business in Russia?

- No, I'm all sold before the situation in the Crimea before the crisis. Many people think that I am a visionary and foresaw everything, but it is not. I just wanted to bring to life its single-product manifest: in the restaurant maybe one dish, and this place is popular. And he left open Burger & Lobster.

- One theory about the causes of the sale of your Russian assets is that you're afraid of themderskogo capture. This is true?

- No. When I sold the business, I had no illusions. When there is no market economy, there is no market price. I've been selling for as much pay. And my problem was no one to substitute. Often in Russia, when someone starts to sell assets, just flock raiders. So I was very afraid to substitute colleagues and partners. Among my partners were those which raiders and, to put it mildly, are afraid. I really did not want to leave with a ticket one way, as it often happens in our country, so think how to make your departure as possible correct. There were two options: either I went to develop business Burger & Lobster, or I'm a traitor. My goal was not to become a traitor. I have several thousand people worked in the company, and I am very serious and responsible attitude to this. I sold the business because he understood to be a successful restaurateur in London and Russia at the same time is impossible.

- You're now follow "Arpikomom" and its development?

- Always "Arpikom" For me has been associated with people. The name I did not cause any feelings, sois, as Goodman. With people I keep in touch, I watch their careers through Facebook. Check out the chief in the person of me opened a "hatch" for the children, who made an incredible career in the companies or their own business, many work-brand chefs largest meat companies.

- Is it true that the majority of your team left the restaurant holding?

- I know that it has changed management, but do not know who came. There its shareholders and managers, and I am not a part of the holding company for several years, so give some comments do not think it's right.

- When you sell a share partners, what was the financial position of the holding?

- We have never had any problems. Only the first year we did not earn anything. When I was selling assets, the market was not in such a crisis. Now "Arpikom" fell upon a heap of problems, including sanctions for meat, and devaluation, and car rental - we were in places where landlords have with your opinion and vision of the situation ... I do not want to comment on what is happening now. I have worked in different "greenhouse" conditions. Nyneshnyuyu situation I could not imagine even in nightmares. For me it would be a huge blow. Because, firstly, I built "Arpikom" for the middle-class to which he himself counted. But at some point, the middle class we have abolished, and then the steak house was left without meat.

- And what about the very thing appeared, the Russian cattle breeding?

- When there is no competition, everybody loses. Because I wanted to make the perfect steak for me the competition was a matter of life and death. When there was Australia, Argentina, the Russian meat, they just complement each other. Import substitution - what we call in Russia the word - it is unacceptable hypocrisy and incompetence invalid. When we call import substitution that brought steers or line launched ... Import substitution - this is when we start to improve the technology, when there will be engineers, people with inspiration to come up with something, they begin to produce competitive products. We have already done import substitution with cars, the Fiat bought the pipeline, and what it all turned? The main task in any country- To create conditions for the development of human capital. For now the only thing we are doing well - it produce slogans. The world's best slogans even Mayakovsky started to do, and we still continue. Import substitution meat ... very comical to hear the phrase here, with Albion.

- Do you think that by closing the import of meat products, we are depriving the manufacturers of any incentive to improve production?

- I'm looking through the prism of the business. For me it is obvious that the quality of meat in my restaurant is getting better, and it is sold cheaper if more competition in the market. We closed the border. How much? At 12 months? At 24? In all my life? Politicians say one thing first, then the other. Not only in Russia, everywhere. Now people will start to invest in the production, and 24 months will start the "great thaw" and fusion back to the West, which is picked up and realized the greatness of our country. And that will be?

"The Wendy's failure only blame themselves in Russia"

- Last year, the US fast food chain Wendy's, which you have brought to Russia, decided St.rnut business in our country. There was a feeling that the Americans were extremely disappointed with his Russian project. What happened?

- This case really taught me a lot. The case of Wendy's - a good example of how the disease affects the stellar business. Instead of developing a unique brand Wendy's, we were arguing about how to sign a shareholders' agreement, and how many millions of dollars we get when open network. And he had to go and fry burgers, to communicate with the guests. I'm sorry that it happened. This is an example of how people like me, fly into the stratosphere.

- Who do you mean when you say "we"? Who are you arguing?

- I blame only myself, instead of going to a restaurant and do burgers, I went to the guards, lawyers and discussed where to sell, how many tens of hundreds of restaurants should be open ... You can say that Wendy's has not turned out because we could not find funding. The financiers are bad partners idiots ... I can find ten thousand reasons why investors do not realize the full potential of the project, but it will just search for the guilty. All problems extthree: the inside man in the business. We were unable to qualitatively organize work, and people in this wine, which should have been held accountable. And it's me. I positioned itself as an investor who invests. As a result, Wendy's has lost the opportunity to enter the Russian market, and I have lost tens of millions of dollars.

- How much do you have invested in the project?

- I do not remember now. He lost a lot of money. It was necessary to open a restaurant in the right place and to inform that this cutlet, which is made from chilled meat, and the quality of its meat by weight can not be compared with other brands. Wendy's idea is that the burgers do with you and under you. They are not to hand. We did not.

- If you watch Russian news, you probably know about the plans of Sergei Mikhalkov and Andron Konchalovsky open network eateries "We eat at home! »...

- To do such stupid things, you have to be very wise people. I do not even know which side to comment on this.

- What nonsense?

- Ask the president money, as he walked to the automobilyu, on the development of Russian "McDonald's" actor, director and housewife. I find it difficult to comment on. I'll sing you a better movie or take off. Give me the money - and I'll take the film.

- Conduct business in London is more difficult than in Russia?

- I'll tell you as someone who is relatively successful. If we compare, there is a paradise for a businessman. There are complexities and difficulties, and in Russia - its. But there are no problems with corruption, with the recognition of private property. I'm doing workshops - Training School of success for those who want to open a restaurant business here in England. I specifically chose this provocative title. On them I introduce businessmen with the local landscape, lawyers, real estate agents. I try to be helpful, to meet people. Someone comes for the secrets of burgers, and who wants to get acquainted with some sort of network. I try to be a guide, so that people can get acquainted with the culture of doing business in the UK. There is no need to idealize the local conditions, there simply has its own specifics, and can be quite successfully enter the market. I hope that the day will come, kotoing will be called "reset" or "the great thaw," when I can be useful for those people who want to open a business in Russia, and not only restaurant. Hopefully, by this time I will not lose ties with Russia.

- You say that it is impossible to be both a good restaurateur in London and Moscow. And as if Arkady Novikov handle [major Russian restaurateur Novikov Novikov opened a successful restaurant in London and plans to implement several project]?

- Often, what one is good, the other not so. Arkady can arrange training on how to be a successful restaurateur in England and Russia. I have, let's say, did not happen.

"The death of Nemtsov - that's what led me into a stupor"

- Is there some kind of new wave of Russian in London?

- I do not feel. Russian speech everywhere. She always had a lot of, as well as to increase the number of Russian - not. From the agents I know that when Vladimir Vladimirovich announced the decision to run was a dramatic increase in requests from the Russian for the purchase of square meters the next dayartir. I do not know how true this is.

- Is the feeling of the community there, who are not indifferent to what is happening in Russia?

- I do not know a single Russian who would not have bothered Russia. I am very sharply reacted to the death of Boris Nemtsov. I already thought that Russia can not make me any sudden emotion, positive or negative. But the death of Nemtsov - that's what led me into a stupor. I can honestly say, I have learned to perceive Russia and love it for what it is, and not what I want it to be. At first I did not believe what happened to Nemtsov, but when he became convinced that it was true, just could not resist. Cynical murder shows that we have made another step to ensure that the creative class is not defeated, not Putiners not Petrograders and won some other force. And God forbid, that would someday she still won in Russia.

- Would you support Mikhail Khodorkovsky?

- I've never been in politics. Really in Russia so bad that the cook asked what should be done in the country to make it better? Public Mrs.Hb in the understanding of Mikhail Khodorkovsky does not interest me. Moreover, I am a citizen of Israel. At school I have caused doubt Vladimir Lenin's phrase about the fact that the cook can run the state. Maybe that's why I never took the Pioneers. The best that I have enough - it's kitchen conversations. As long as the meat starts to burn.

- In what situation you again could start business in Russia?

- To the agenda, which was formed in Russia today, I can not participate under any circumstances. It must be the agenda creation, respect for the individual, recognition of private property and a desire to discuss what we leave behind children. Now, if all this becomes a reality, I will be the first to come to you with a barbecue. I do not want anyone to measure eggs, to find out who is steeper "Mercedes", a yacht or a boat. I do not blame these people just are not ready to participate in it. Neither one nor the other.

- The mood at the other Russian, who do business in London like?

- Usually, the people who want to invest,They do not talk about it. Also, do not speak about patriotism, love for Russia. When the situation changes, then a large number of people, not only Russian, and will work to make Russia better.