Bobby Kerr is probably best known these days for his role as a 'Dragon' on RTE's popular business show Dragon's Den. In 2009, he spearheaded the sale of the Kerr family business - Newpark Hotel in Kilkenny - for €23 million. Last year he sold 51% of his Insomnia group to Penninn, valuing the business at €16 million.
Bobby got the business bug at a young age while helping his father run the four star Newpark Hotel in Kilkenny. At 16 he was introduced to the hotel kitchen where he sweated his way through two summers, learning some of the favourite game dishes that he still cooks today.
A career in catering followed, when he landed his very first job at AIB Catering in Ballsbridge. He was soon travelling the globe, working as a chef on Oil Rigs in the North Sea, and then to Canada where he gained vast experience in stadium catering. He went on to co-ordinate catering for 1 million people at the Pope's visit to Canada in 1985.
He returned to Ireland in the mid-80s where he worked initially at Jury's Hotels, followed by Campbell Catering in Cork and then Bewley's. As Managing Director of Bewley's Oriental Cafe, Bewley's Franchising and Bewley's Bakery he oversaw 30 Bewley's Cafes and a bakery with a turnover of €40 million. He was also responsible for the overseas development of the Bewley's Brand in the UK, USA and Japan.
In 1999 Bobby set up PERK Coffee Shops in Dublin, before selling the brand to Insomnia. Bobby reinvested all the proceeds of the PERK sale back into Insomnia and became a shareholder and CEO. Since 2004 he has led the expansion of Insomnia from 17 to 50 shops and increased turnover from €5 to €13 million.
Bobby lives in an old house by the sea in Sandycove, with his wife Mary and their four daughters. He is actively involved in raising money for Blackrock Hospice and through the organising of Fitzgerald's Sailing Regatta and after dinner speaking he has raised over €70K for the hospice over the last three years.
He has been a keen yachtsman for the last 25 years, having started sailing when he worked in Cork. Naturally, he has his own yacht and races competitively in Dun Laoghaire.