Luke Johnson has enjoyed a highly successful career as the individual behind a myriad of prominent hospitality brands.

Luke Johnson has enjoyed a highly successful career as the individual behind a myriad of prominent hospitality brands. He previously served as Chairman of Pizza Express, the Royal Society of Arts and Channel 4, and now serves as a director/co-owner at Gail’s bakeries and on the board of Brompton Cycles. In addition to this, Luke founded the think tank, The Centre for Entrepreneurs, in 2013, and has served on the Jobs Foundation’s Advisory Council since it was founded in 2022. 

In the latest in our series of breakfasts, Luke talked to us about the importance of growth and the key role that only businesses can play in the development of Britain’s future. He said at the start that he had been “obsessed by business” since the age of eighteen, and that running your own enterprise gives one “a more independent life than any other work”. In terms of how to achieve this growth, Luke said a liberalisation of the planning rules are long overdue, as well as a need for businesses in Britain to stop overfocusing on what the government is or is not doing and think for themselves. He cited the relatively recent increase in interest rates, ending the period of cheap money we experienced since the financial crisis, and how this creates a new challenge for businesses.

He also talked about the funding of start ups in Britain, pointing out that two-thirds of loans to new businesses now come from challenger banks, a sign of times. Some of that will be from these challenger banks moving into a space that the Big Five banks have somewhat retreated from in recent years.

Finally, Luke made the point that more business owners and CEOs need to publicly make the case for business as a societal good a lot more often – which is the founding mission of the Jobs Foundation.

The next breakfast in our series will be with guest speakers Michael Lorimer, Chief Executive at the DCS Group, and Charles Lewington, Executive Chairman at Hanover Communications, talking about resilience in business.