The former CEO of D&D has taken 6,500sq ft of space on a new 15-year lease after signing an agreement with The Ardent Companies UK, with the new venture occupying the north, south and east mezzanines of the main central courtyard, together with a newly created outdoor terrace at the front of the building.
Details of food, drink and design concepts are to be announced closer to the City of London venue’s planned opening in May 2024. The venue will also feature live music and entertainment.
First project since D&D
This will be the first project for Gunewardena since his departure from D&D.
The Royal Exchange houses dining and drinking options such as The Libertine and the Fortnum & Mason bar and restaurant alongside high-end boutiques including Tiffany & Co, Hermès, Montblanc and Omega, meaning it could be a prime location for a flagship bar in the near future.
Gunewardena said: “I have always loved the Royal Exchange since my first involvement with the building back in my Conran days.”
Excited to be part of plans
He continued: “Ardent has some imaginative proposals for evolving what is already a very successful luxury retail and restaurant offer, and I am excited to be part of those plans.”
Andrew Hilston, managing director of The Ardent Companies UK, added: “We are hugely excited to welcome Des to The Royal Exchange, and can’t wait to see his concepts come to life.
“Alongside existing eateries, including The Libertine and the Fortnum & Mason bar and restaurant, Des’s arrival will further burnish The Royal Exchange’s reputation as one of the City’s best places for dining and socialising.”
The Royal Exchange opened in 1566 as London’s first purpose-built trading centre and once housed Lloyd’s insurance market with Queen Victoria unveiling the current building, the third on the site, in 1844.