Luke Johnson

Past CEO of Pizza Express & Former Owner of The Ivy


Business speaker and retail expert Luck Johnson is a leading figure in private equity, son of reputable historian Paul Johnson and a graduate of Oxford University Luke Johnson embarked on his business career whilst still an undergraduate following an interview with Richard Branson on his houseboat for the University newspaper.


Along with his friend and fellow Oxford study Hugh Osmond Luke was inspired by Richard Branson and, soon after their meeting, the pair began running the Era nightclub in the city of Oxford. Since this Luke Johnson has gone on to own, chair and manage a vast number of businesses in diverse areas from retail to shipping and food production. Riding on the coattails of his business success Luke Johnson has also established a career as a retail speaker and is one of the most well respected after dinner speakers in the UK.


Upon graduation Luke Johnson and Hugh Osmond were running a number of businesses across the Oxfordshire area, covering everything from software to clubs and music venues. Osmond went on to establish the Punch Taverns chain whilst Johnson has turned his hand to a variety of business models.

Working as the owner, chair and business speaker for some of the UK’s most easily recognizable food brands, including Pizza Express, Whitards of Chelsea, Strada, the Ivy and Patisserie Valerie, Luke Johnson has helped to significantly raise the profile and profit of a number of British brands – bringing Pizza Express from a selection of 12 stores to over 250 (raising the share price from 40p to more than 900), and, a few years later, making profits of more than £90million for the sale of Signature Restaurant and Strada chains.

The success of Johnson’s business management has helped to make him one of the most sought after retail speakers of his generation; calling himself a “projector” (based on a 17th Century term for one who manages a variety of businesses) Johnson is known for his ability to track business and marketing trends and judge the best points at which to sell successful businesses and shares. As a business and retail speaker Luke Johnson covers numerous topics including the techniques utilized by he and his team and Risk Capital Partners to develop the brand identity and promote the success of some of the UK’s biggest chains.

As well as working as a business speaker and retail mogul Luke Johnson has demonstrated his versatility by turning his talents to a variety of other business ventures and has continued to work closely with businesses within the shipping industry, software engineering and previously acted as chairman for Channel 4.

Alongside this Luke Johnson spent several years writing a weekly column called “The Maverick” on business matters for The Sunday Telegraph, and has since gone on to write a weekly column on entrepreneurship for The Financial Times and a monthly column for Management Today. In 2011 Johnson co-produced The Flaw, a documentary feature film detailing the events leading up to the financial crash of 2008.

To book Luke Johnson as the retail speaker for your corporate or business speaker event contact Champions Speakers: the UK’s leading after dinner speakers’ agency by telephone on: 0207 1010 553 or by completing the online form.