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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Sat 25th Feb 2023 - Exclusive: Gravity secures up to £30m of funding to continue growth
Exclusive – Gravity secures up to £30m of funding to continue growth: Experiential leisure operator Gravity has secured up to £30m of new funding from a US investment fund to aid its growth and expansion plans for this year and beyond, Propel has learned. The new funding has been provided by Sculptor Real Estate, the real estate arm of the New York-listed Sculptor Capital Management. Established in 2014 as a trampoline park operator, Gravity has evolved into an experiential leisure business with 17 sites already in operation nationwide, plus recently opened international sites in Mauritius and a second location in Saudi Arabia, which both run as a franchise. This takes its franchise sites to six. The business said the new injection of funds will “facilitate the business’ roadmap to grow and strengthen the brand”. Having launched the next phase of its offering in 2020 in Wandsworth, the company is on track to open new Gravity Max sites in Liverpool ONE, in the first half of this year, and at Westfield Stratford in the fourth quarter. It said the new funding will also drive expansion with Gravity expected to announce a pipeline of venues in major UK cities as well as further growth overseas. In addition, the company will be investing in the refurbishment of existing Gravity Active sites for “enhanced customer experience and marketing to drive customer acquisition”. There will also be a focus on further developing internal systems to improve the customer journey and boost advocacy and loyalty. Alongside operational improvements, the business plans to strengthen its senior leadership team with strategic hires in the coming months that will support wider growth and development of the brand. Despite the economic climate, Gravity said it continued to see high demand for its experiences. Gravity’s net revenue exceeded £27m in 2022, up from £17m in 2021. Management is projecting revenue of more than £50m in 2024 based on the committed pipeline. Harvey Jenkinson, co-founder and chief executive at Gravity, said: “This funding has come at a pivotal and exciting time for Gravity with the launch of our Gravity Max brand at Liverpool ONE and Westfield Stratford this year. We are thrilled to build our relationship with Sculptor on this investment. This backing will help us realise the full potential of the Gravity brand, ensuring the rollout of our business plan and achievement of strategic objectives. We look forward to further establishing Gravity as the international name in active entertainment and providing our customers at every site with the best possible experience.” Will Dear, co-head of European real estate for Sculptor, who joins the Gravity board, added: “Gravity is at the forefront of experiential leisure trends with a track record of driving customer footfall and dwell time around its locations. We are excited about our investment and to support the business plan and growth of the leading player in active entertainment.” Last December, Gravity announced a partnership with Reef to provide food and beverage services at its Wandsworth site in London. It launched a Reef food hall featuring seven restaurant brands at its Gravity Southside venue in Wandsworth. One of the concepts available is Sides, the Virtual Hero brand from YouTube collective The Sidemen, which opened at Southside last week for its second physical site. Other featured menus include Azzurri Group brand Coco di Mama, Dirty Bones, Choppaluna, Crepeaffaire and Another Wing from Grammy-winning artist DJ Khaled. It has subsequently launched the first UK location of US brand 800 Degrees Pizza. Using Reef’s technology, guests are able to order from multiple brands in a single contactless transaction. Gravity now plans to roll out multiple Reef food hall’s across its estate in 2023, including at Westfield Stratford City and Liverpool ONE. In 2018, Gravity’s founders Jenkinson and Michael Harrison received a £3m investment from Guinness Asset Management to expand into other areas of experiential leisure. Guinness Asset Management had previously invested £5m in Gravity, which opened its first trampoline park in 2015. In September 2021, the business appointed KPMG to advise on fundraising for the company's next phase of growth. Gravity features in Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is updated each month and now features 705 UK pub, restaurant, cafe and hotel operators. Its turnover of £27m in 2022 makes its the 225th highest in the database. The Blue Book ranks companies by turnover, profit and profit conversion, listing directors’ earnings for the past five years. 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 jo.charity@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription.


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