Healthy fast-food chain Pod is to open 16 new sites across London by 2013, having secured £3.5m of funding from investors.
The company, which currently has nine sites in the capital and annualised turnover approaching £10m, is set to open new outlets in the West End, Shoreditch, Regent's Place, Soho, Paddington and Bishopsgate in the next three months. Further sites will open in autumn 2011.
Chief executive Tim Hall, who founded the company in 2005, indicated that £2.5m of the investment had come from specialist private equity vehicle and existing investor JGR Capital. The remaining £1m comes from Pod's founding shareholders and the Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme via Natwest.
Hall told Caterersearch.com: "The investment transaction I have just completed is a landmark one on our sector, both in terms of valuation (£20m for a business with nine sites) and ambition. Our growth is underpinned by what I believe is a seismic shift in consumer behaviour towards buying food that has genuine, clearly identifiable health benefits."
James Paget of JGR Capital, who has joined the Pod board, said: "Pod is one of the fastest-growing brands in the healthy fast-food sector, a sector which we believe has significant global potential. We have backed Pod for the past three years and we now believe that Tim has the offer and management team to challenge the traditional fast-food and sandwich chains."
The deal moves Pod closer to its ambition of owning 50 sites by 2015.
Pod's existing sites currently serve food to around 10,000 Londoners daily. The food it offers includes slow-cook stews over low-GI rice, superfood salads, power smoothies, nori wraps and other grab-and-go items.
By Neil Gerrard
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