Exclusive – Steve Easterbrook invests in Clean Kitchen Club: Steve Easterbrook, the ex-chief executive of McDonald’s, PizzaExpress and Wagamama, has invested in Clean Kitchen Club, the fledgling plant-based, fast-food concept, Propel has learned. Easterbrook was global chief executive of McDonald’s from March 2015, until the fast-food chain fired him in November 2019 following an investigation that determined he had a consensual relationship with an employee. Easterbrook, who grew up in Watford, received widespread praise for turning around McDonalds’ UK business after taking over in 2006. He was subsequently made president of McDonald’s Europe. However, he shocked the company in 2011 when he ended an 18-year career at the fast-food giant to become chief executive of PizzaExpress. Easterbrook then took the helm at Wagamama a year later, before rejoining McDonald’s in 2013. As McDonald’s global chief executive, Easterbrook brought the fast-food chain out of a multi-year slump, characterised by sluggish sales and restaurant closures. He joins Clive Sharpe, ex-chairman of Quorn, and Grace Beverley, fitness influencer and chief executive of health and fitness app Shreddy and sustainable activewear brand Tala, as backers of Clean Kitchen Club, which is currently looking to raise £2.5m to scale operations through new sites, expanding its corporate catering arm, and launching its products across UK supermarkets. The business, which was founded by former YouTube celebrity Michael Pearce, with Made in Chelsea TV star Verity Bowditch joining in 2020 – has so far had £1.5m already committed with £1m remaining at a £12m pre-money valuation. The company, which recently opened in Notting Hill, has further sites lined up in the Battersea Power Station development and Soho. It currently operates five sites in the capital, through a mixture of standalone and dark kitchen units. It plans to have 40-plus sites operating by the end of 2024, and hopes to start expanding outside the capital next year, with Manchester, Brighton, Leeds, Bristol and Birmingham among its target locations. The business has also secured £1m-worth of corporate contracts through Sky Studios and Goldman Sachs. It is projecting total sales of just over £13m for the year to the end of March 2023. Last November, Bowditch and Pearce closed a £1.4m seed-funding round for the business.
Greene King acquires three-strong Scottish business for Metropolitan Pub Co: Brewer and retailer Greene King has acquired the three-strong, Glasgow-based Clydesdale-family pub and restaurant business, for an undisclosed sum. The company has acquired The Ubiquitous Chip, Stravaigin and Hanoi Bike Shop, located in Glasgow’s West End, as part of its strategy to grow the Metropolitan business outside of London. Colin Clydesdale, who owned the business with his Carol, said: “Metropolitan Pub Company approached Carol and I, as great admirers of The Chip, Stravaigin and Hanoi, with an interest in buying. After much consideration, we decided to sell the business that has been in family ownership since 1971. I believe the business and people will be in safe hands with Metropolitan, which will continue the legacy that we have built. We look forward to visiting as customers for many years to come.” Michael Horan, managing director of Metropolitan Pub Company, added: “We are excited to welcome these iconic sites to the Metropolitan estate, and continuing the legacy that the Clydesdale family has built over the last 50 years. We are looking forward to working with the 145 team members to continue providing the world class hospitality to the people of Glasgow.” In May, Greene King told Propel it is planning to double the size of its Metropolitan Pub Company estate over the next few years. The company currently operates 70 pubs under the more premium concept, after opening The Fox & Finch in Godalming, Surrey, this week. The business has forecasted a number of new openings over the coming year, including pubs in Cambridge, York, Bath, Scotland, as well as additional pubs in London, where the majority of Metropolitan sites are located.