In 1993 Hugh co‐led the £18 million acquisition and market listing of PizzaExpress. During the seven years he remained on the Board, PizzaExpress became the UK’s largest and most successful sit-down casual dining group and the value of the company increased more than twenty‐fold. Over this period, annual losses of £0.5 million were turned into profits of £38 million.
In 1997 Hugh co‐founded Punch Group and, as Executive Chairman, he orchestrated the acquisition and integration of the Allied Domecq Retail estate, the Bass leased estate and Inn Business to create the UK’s largest pub group. Punch Group was floated in 2002 with an enterprise value of £3.5 billion.
Hugh co‐founded Pearl Group in 2005. Pearl was acquired for £1.1 billion from Henderson Plc and embedded value was subsequently grown to £2.3 billion. Resolution Plc was acquired in December 2007, and the enlarged group floated in September 2009. Now renamed Phoenix Group, it has an enterprise value of approximately £3 billion.
Most recently Hugh led the acquisition of Strada where he is now Chairman.