Fast-growing but beleagured seafood restaurant and fishmonger chain FishWorks is raising £2.5m through a share placement.
The scheme will result in 33% of the equity being held by Channel 4 boss Luke Johnson and recruitment entrepreneur Gary Ashworth.
If shareholders approve the placements on the Alternative Investment Market, Ashworth will take over the role of chairman that Roy Morris relinquished last December in the wake of a profit warning.
Ashworth is the founder and chairman of the InterQuest recruitment group, and the founder of Room Restaurants which operates contemporary bars in Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool.
Chris Marsh will become finance director, with founder Mitchell Tonks continuing to lead the company as group chief executive.
The share issue will raise £290,000 and £1.2m from both firm and conditional subscriptions with Ashworth and Johnson, plus another £1m from institutional investors.
FishWorks said that trading in the four months from August 2006 has been "adversely impacted" by management disruption, pricing and operational issues (2). It expects to save up to £225,000 in costs this year from a restructuring programme that will bring further annual savings of £650,000.
Combined with the fundraising exercise, the group expects to at least break even in the year to 31 July.
Tonks said the move would provide "firm financial control and better operational management". The new cash will reduce group debt and fund the refinement of existing venues and the opening of new branches.
"This will represent a new era in the story of FishWorks. The FishWorks concept remains strong and, with our finances reinforced, I am pleased that we can now focus on delivering the true potential of the business," he added.
By Angela Frewin