Private equity firm TriSpan has announced that its dedicated restaurant fund Rising Stars has acquired a significant majority stake in Vietnamese restaurant group Pho.
The founders and management have maintained a significant interest in the company with former finance director Patrick Marrinan to lead the group as managing director in its next phase of growth, supported by TriSpan and the board.
Husband and wife Stephen and Juliette Wall (pictured), founders of Pho, will remain in executive roles to help support the growth plan, alongside director of operations Ewan McDonald and marketing director Libby Andrews.
Robin Rowland, TriSpan European operating partner, will chair the board, with current chairman Steve Hill remaining on the board as a non-executive director.
The first Pho restaurant opened in 2005 in Clerkenwell and expanded with the initial support of Tom and Ed Martin and then further support from Gresham House to 30 restaurants and three cloud kitchens.
The group has plans to open in Lincoln – the agreement for which was signed pre-Covid – later this summer, and it is reviewing other expansion opportunities.
Stephen and Juliette Wall said: "After an extremely challenging 18 months, during which time the superhuman efforts of our team and support of our landlords have helped us to weather the pandemic, it's fantastic to receive this vote of confidence in Pho. Gresham House have been wonderful partners and we now look forward to working with Robin and the TriSpan team as we get back to what we do best, with Pat stepping up and leading the charge as managing director along with Ewan, Libby and the rest of our team."
Growth equity investor Gresham House Ventures agreed the sale of its stake in Pho, on behalf of the Baronsmead venture capital trusts, which in 2012 invested £4.4m for an approximate 30% stake in Pho.
Marrinan said: "It's a real honour to lead the company through the next phase of growth and, while this deal means we have to say goodbye to a great partner in Gresham House, we are delighted to be welcoming Robin and TriSpan to the Pho team. I look forward to continuing Pho's exciting journey alongside our outstanding management team, with the continued support of Stephen and Jules."
Rowland said: "I am looking forward to working alongside Patrick, the founders, Pho's proven management team and strong board to continue the evolution of this ‘honest-to-its-roots' brand, delivering authentic, fresh and exciting Vietnamese cuisine."
TriSpan partners Fady Michel Abouchalache and Joseph-Patrick Dib added: "Pho is a brand and a business that we have admired for a long time. We are therefore very proud to have been given the opportunity to partner with the founders and this exceptional management team on the next journey of growth. We are very excited at the prospect of bringing more Pho restaurants to customers in the UK and beyond. This investment is another testament to TriSpan's commitment to the sector, especially in the face of the difficult 18 months we have witnessed in the UK and globally."
This will be Rising Stars' eighth investment and its third in the UK, following investments in Rosa's Thai Café and Thunderbird Fried Chicken. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Bevan Duncan, managing director, strategic equity at Gresham House Ventures, said: "Our investment in Pho has supported the company in becoming a well-known high-quality restaurant and successful delivery business in the UK. The emphasis on quality and the measured approach to growth have both been crucial to Pho's success. In addition, our deep consumer network and expertise have helped the team shape the growth strategy and the development of the management team which will support the ongoing success of the business."