The Bridges Sustainable Growth Fund III (SGF III), managed by specialist sustainable and impact investor Bridges Ventures (Bridges) has invested £5.6m to take a controlling interest in Vegetarian Express, a supplier of specialist plant-based ingredients.
It will work in partnership with current shareholders David Jonas (founder of the business in 1987) and Will Matier, both of whom will remain actively involved with the business. In addition, Tim Kelly, former COO of Premier Foods, joins Vegetarian Express as executive chairman.
This is SGF III's ninth investment, and its second in the food sector, following its 2014 investment in Wholebake (a manufacturer of healthy snack bars including 9BAR). Partner Oliver Wyncoll and Investment Manager Emma Thorne are leading the investment on behalf of the firm, and will join the Vegetarian Express Board.
Kelly, added: "Vegetarian Express has built a really strong platform as the go-to supplier of high-quality plant-based food ingredients. Bridges has a proven track record of helping businesses like this to scale, in a way that amplifies their impact, so they're a perfect partner for our next phase of growth. I look forward to working with Bridges and the team to build the business and give chefs the ingredients to develop great-tasting no-meat and lower-meat dishes, offering consumers a much broader choice."
Vegetarian Express has a range of over 1,000 products (including tofu, tempeh, quinoa, nuts, spices, pulses) and a strong service culture, working closely with chefs to develop new menu ideas.