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Thu 30th Aug 2018 - Downing makes £4.7m investment in new gastro-pubs
Downing makes £4.7m investment in new gastro-pubs: Downing has provided £4.7m of equity to Apprise Pubs, a pub company seeking to acquire closed freehold sites in the Home Counties and convert them into high-quality gastro-pubs. The pubs will be operated by the team at Oakman Inns. Apprise acquired its first site, the Refectory in Hampton Hill, in April. This was followed in August by the acquisition of a closed site in the centre of Wokingham, which was previously operated by Casual Dining Group brand Cafe Rouge. Steve Kenee, investment director at Downing, said: “Despite the headwinds facing the high street, we continue to see opportunities to back strong operators and food and beverage concepts. We know Peter Borg-Neal and the rest of the management team behind Oakman Inns well, having partnered with them for a number of years. It knows we can act quickly as and when opportunities present themselves and has a thorough understanding of the sector.” Borg-Neal, chief executive of Oakman Inns, said: “We are delighted to be working with Downing on this new venture. Oakman Inns is currently growing strongly this year. In addition to delivering 10% like-for-like sales growth, in the 19 weeks to Sunday, 11 August, we have had four hugely successful openings this year – including The Royal Foresters in Ascot, which is averaging net turnover of £83,000 per week. However, these openings use vast amounts of capital; by delivering management contracts for Downing-backed businesses, we can grow our Ebitda without increasing capital investment any further. Because we manage the entire process from site acquisition through the development process and then run the operation, we can ensure the sites fit well into our operating system. This enables us to deliver great returns for investors while leveraging our powerful central resources and earning incremental profits.” This latest investment in Apprise comes from Downing-managed VCT funds and Downing EIS. Downing is an experienced investor in the pub sector with more than £100m invested in pubs across the UK.

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