Fast casual dining chain Leon is set to open 10 restaurants over the next three years, after launching a new finance scheme which raises cash from customers.
The Leon Bond aims to raise around £1.5m, with gross rates of return of 10% for a £1,500 investment, rising to 15% for an investment of £5,000, and repayment after five years. However the returns are only payable in what are being called, £eon Pounds, which will be loaded onto electronic cards and can only be used to purchase food at Leon restaurants.
Henry Dimbleby, co-founder and chief executive of Leon, said: "Our vision is to become an international fast food business, growing through franchise and owned stores. We would like to have a Leon on every high street in the UK but at the same time we will expand carefully and ensure we retain the quality which is at the heart of the brand."
Fellow co-founder John Vincent added: "Savers can't get the rates, banks aren't lending to businesses - and this is despite the government giving them money to do so. So let's cut out the middle man. Our customers regularly send us emails asking us to open near their office or near their home. This is a way that customers can get us there and benefit financially too."
Leon was founded in 2004 by John Vincent and Henry Dimbleby with the aim to make it easy for everybody to eat good food. Since opening its first site in London's Carnaby Street, the company has grown to 11 restaurants in London, one at Bluewater in Kent and one at Heathrow's Terminal 3.
By Neil Gerrard
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