Casual-dining brand Coal has secured as much as £6m to roll out up to 14 high-street sites in England during the next two-and-a-half years.
Coal, which launched in Cardiff last September, is the brainchild of John Gater, founder of restaurant chain Ma Potter's, and Andrew Keen, previously Ma Potter's executive chef and now Coal's operations director.
Gater secured the intellectual property rights to the Coal brand before selling Ma Potter's to Café Rouge owner Tragus in February this year. He has since bought back Coal Wimbledon from Tragus but failed to secure Coal Cardiff, which will be rebranded as a Bella Italia.
The company, which is being backed by private-equity firm Beringea and an-as-yet unnamed bank, is in the final negotiations for two sites in central London and Manchester.
Gater, who will retain a majority share in the new company, is also searching for a chairman from the restaurant sector to join him to help drive the expansion plans.
"We now have funding in place to purchase about 12 to 14 leaseholds and will move quickly to do so, predominantly in town centres," Gater said.
Coal, whose menu is based around chargrill dishes, also has a non-binding agreement to open in the Liverpool One development.
By Chris Druce
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