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Mon 16th Jan 2023 - Imbiba completes first close of £90m investment fund, invests in Little Houses Group
Imbiba completes first close of £90m investment fund, invests in Little Houses Group: Serial sector investor Imbiba has completed the first close at circa £70m of its new £90m fund, and its first investment into Little Houses Group, the nursery, soft play and cafe concept from Incipio Group co-founder Charlie Gardiner. Led by “significant investment” from the British Business Bank through its Enterprise Capital Funds programme, alongside other investors including Asahi UK, Imbiba said the new fund will provide growth capital to support the “expansion of leading businesses from across the leisure, lifestyle and entertainment sector”. Imbiba currently backs sector companies including Pizza Pilgrims, F1 Arcade, Vagabond Wine, Clays, Farmer J, Big Fang Collective and NQ64. Darrel Connell, managing partner at Imbiba, said: “The significant investment we have secured for our new fund is a huge vote of confidence for Imbiba and the wider leisure, lifestyle and entertainment sector in the UK. With our experience and track record, this new fund puts us in a unique position to support more leading entrepreneurs and high growth businesses than ever before, during a period of significant market uncertainty and volatility. At a time when others are retreating from the sector, we see this as the opportune time to support the brand heroes of tomorrow. We are incredibly grateful for the support of our investors who share our belief and passion for this great sector and recognise that times of turbulence brings exciting opportunity.” Little Houses Group opened its first venue, Kensal House Nursery and Jaego’s House, in Kensal Rise earlier this year. It features a nursery, creche, kids’ club, jungle gym and soft play, kids’ cinema and snug, as well as a waterside cafe and restaurant, gym and fitness classes, treatment rooms and co-workspace. With ambitious plans to scale the business and multiple new venues planned in the coming years, Imbiba will provide capital and support for the management team to expand the business. Connell said, “Little Houses Group is the perfect example of the kind of business we’re looking to invest in; highly differentiated, best-in-class and scalable with a highly credible management team. We’re excited to work with Charlie and his team as the business expands in the years ahead.” Gardiner said: “The dream for most parents is to find somewhere that they love visiting just as much as their children do, and Imbiba’s support will help us scale the business and make that dream a reality for more parents. We couldn’t be happier to have the opportunity to create a long-term, sustainable partnership with such proven entrepreneurs and investors in the sector.” Tim Clay, managing director of Asahi UK, said: “Our business is focused on developing high quality, super premium brands – including beer, cider and soft drinks – and helping to deliver exceptional hospitality experience which drives commercial value in the marketplace, and Imbiba shares our ambition to drive the evolution of the on-trade experience for consumers. The fund will directly support the on-trade sector during some unprecedented macro-economic changes, and operators will benefit in terms of funding, training, category and ranging support, staff retention programmes and much more. We are looking forward to developing a long-term vision in partnership with Imbiba, and enabling hospitality and leisure businesses to benefit from best practice sharing and forward-looking growth advice.”

Propel to launch The Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage this week, fifth major database for Premium subscribers: Propel will launch The Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage on Friday (20 January) – the first time full profiles of more than 650 of the UK’s top food and beverage operators will be available in one place. It is the fifth major database exclusive to Premium subscribers. The companies, listed in alphabetical order, will have their most recent results reported as well as broader information around Ebitda, plans and trading style available. The database, which will be updated monthly, has taken 16 months to pull together, merging Companies House information, interviews and other public information to provide an easy to reference and exhaustive guide to the sector. Premium subscribers also receive access to four other databases: the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book; the Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate; the New Openings Database and the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database. Premium subscribers are also to be given exclusive access to the recording and slides to Propel Multi-Club Conferences. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £445 plus VAT for operators and £545 plus VAT for suppliers. Email to upgrade your subscription. Subscribers also receive access to Propel's library of Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before.

Hospitality sector pleads for help when covid business interruption loans fall due in spring: Hard-pressed owners of pubs and restaurants will be calling for forbearance on government-backed loans issued during the pandemic when they start falling due from the end of March. The hospitality industry has warned ministers that loan repayments are due to start just as the downturn is expected to intensify and it may need lenders to give the sector breathing space. UKHospitality is planning to ask for assistance with repayments on loans taken out under the government’s schemes when it lobbies chancellor Jeremy Hunt before the spring Budget. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls told The Times the government could ask banks to be more lenient with borrowers or demand that lenders automatically extend loan repayment terms to applicants. She warned the loans had become a “ticking time bomb” for the industry as it faced a decline in consumer spending and higher interest rates on other lending facilities. The sector was able to take out loans under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme. The government guaranteed facilities worth about £30bn under the programmes. Banks must automatically grant forbearance to borrowers that took part in the Treasury’s Bounce Back Loan scheme, which was aimed at the smallest businesses, but other companies will need to negotiate with lenders if they want forbearance under the other schemes. Nicholls said: “I think it’s a ticking time bomb and particularly for our sector, which is much more indebted than other areas of the economy. Other sectors have been able to start paying off those loans that they took out as a precautionary measure, but hospitality really needed those loans to be able to get by and have that working capital. The rest of the economy came out [of the pandemic] with savings and we didn’t. We are now hamstrung in the recovery. We are making the case to the Treasury that this is an extra area they could help with. We are lobbying the government around it because clearly unless the banks are willing to have a bit more flexibility or to give forbearance, it’s not happening and the forbearance we are seeing is quite limited. We are asking the government to use their leverage and remind the banks that the guarantee is there and to encourage them to be a bit more flexible.”

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