Luke Johnson

Luke Johnson

The ‘Unrepentant Capitalist’


Luke made his name by expanding Pizza Express from 12 to 250 outlets. He now chairs numerous businesses - from restaurants to vehicle repair, via fashion, bakeries and parking equipment. He’s also co-founder of the think tank, The Institute of Entrepreneurs. ‘Cool Hand Luke’ debunks investment myths, upholds the basic principles of capitalism, owns up to his mistakes and demonstrates his fighting mentality.


Luke Johnson is the chair of Risk Capital Partners, the leading investment firm with interests in travel, leisure and food. He’s been running and investing in businesses since his student days and is noted as one of the most knowledgeable business voices in the country. He made his name by growing Pizza Express from 12 to 250 outlets, and now chairs a range of companies and is co-founder of the think tank, The Institute of Entrepreneurs.

Starting out running nightclubs while studying medicine at Oxford, Luke then spent time as an analyst with the investment bank Kleinwort Benson. He later acquired, expanded and floated Pizza Express - increasing its market capitalisation to £500m. He went on chair Signature, which owned famous establishments like Belgo and The Ivy, before also going on to chair Channel 4 Television and the RSA. Today he also has interests in everything from artisan bakeries to marketing agencies.

‘Cool Hand Luke’ brings this experience to bear in his presentations. He debunks investment myths, upholds the basic tenets of capitalism, owns up to mistakes (including his attempts to turn around the Borders chain of bookstores) and shows his fighting mentality. He believes there’s no magic formula for leadership: “It’s about domain knowledge, hard work, charm, judgement and having the ability to motivate and delegate.”

As well as his business interests, Luke has a regular column in the Sunday Times, and has also written two books, Start It Up: Why Running Your Own Business Is Easier Than You Think, and Maverick: Dispatches from an Unrepentant Capitalist.

© Copyright 2018 JLA. All rights reserved.


Conference Speaker Luke Johnson on Debunking the Myths of Business