The Seafood Pub Company has received an £18m investment from private equity firm Penta Capital in return for a majority stake in the North West-based gastropub business.
The Seafood Pub Company, founded in 2010 by Joycelyn Neve (pictured), has eight food pubs across the region, and last week won the Pub and Bar Award at the 2016 Cateys.
Joycelyn, who was just 25 when she founded the business, started out with one pub, the Oyster & Otter in Blackburn, Lancashire. Chris Neve, Joycelyn’s father and co-founder of Fleetwood fish firm C&G Neve, is still involved in the business and sources the best-quality produce from sea and shore for the pubs.
Four of the eight pubs her business now runs have bedroom accommodation and five of the eight are freehold.
The Seafood Pub Company aims to more than double its size and expand to 20 sites over the next three to five years. The acquisition strategy will continue to focus in the North of England through a combination of freehold and leasehold sites spreading its geographic footprint into Cheshire, the Lake District and North Yorkshire. The business plans to maintain a minimum 70% freehold estate and recently secured its ninth site, the Forest Inn in Fence near Pendle in Lancashire, which is due to open in August 2016. A tenth site has also been identified and is due to be announced shortly.
In addition to managing director Joycelyn, other members of the team include Andrew McLean, executive chairman, who founded the Devonshire Pub Company in 1991, which grew from 25 to 120 sites under his tenure. Executive chef is Anthony Shirley, and Ian Edward, chairman of Brasserie Blanc and co-founder of Hippo Inns, has also been appointed as a non-executive director of the company.
Penta Capital, which has previously invested in and grown businesses including Geronimo Inns, La Tasca and Eat, has arranged an £18m funding package to acquire a majority equity stake in the business and provide funds for expansion. The funding package includes additional debt support from RBS Manchester. Neve and other members of the management team will remain substantial shareholders in the company and will continue to lead growth of the business.
Joycelyn said: “We are delighted to partner with Penta Capital which has a proven track record of backing a number of other successful pub and leisure retail businesses. Torquil and the team at Penta totally buy-into our strategy and their support and expertise will be invaluable as we take the business to the next level. We have exciting expansion plans and this partnership will enable us to realise those and further accelerate our growth.”
Torquil Macnaughton, managing partner of Penta Capital, said: “We were attracted to the Seafood Pub Company’s unique proposition and the fact that it had demonstrated an impressive track record of growth since its inception only six years ago. Joycelyn is a talented young entrepreneur and we look forward to working together with her, and the wider management team, to continue to build the business and support this new phase of development for the company.”
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