Healthy fast-food chain Leon secures funding for overseas expansion

Fast-food chain Leon
Healthy fast-food chain Leon gets major new backer

Healthy fast-food chain Leon has secured £25m from a private equity backer to hasten its international growth plans.

Spice Private Equity is set to be the UK-focused chain’s largest shareholder and has decided to back the business in a bid to help it expand overseas as well as broaden its presence domestically.

The company has two stores in the Netherlands at present but its chief executive and co-founder John Vincent has said he wants to start opening sites in the US.

Spice, which is managed by GP Investments, changed its investment strategy last year in a bid to boost the number of direct investments it has in companies.

Fersen Lambranho, a Spice board member, said Leon had “immense potential” to become a global business.

“We see Leon as an opportunity to replicate the great success of a former investment, Fogo de Chão, a Brazilian steakhouse that expanded into the US and is now listed on the Nasdaq,” he added.

Leon’s Mr Vincent said the company had been approached by many potential investors prior to accepting Spice’s investment.

He added that its existing investor, Active, supported the deal.

Leon boss John Vincent secretly works in his own restaurants Leon boss John Vincent secretly works in his own restaurants
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Leon’s fast growth has been helped by the company poaching a few executives from major rival names.

John Upton, once at McDonald’s, is managing director, the company’s supply chain is managed by Gemma Kearney, formerly of Pizza Express, while Wagamama’s Antony Perring and Chris Burford manage Leon’s finances.

Leon’s first site in Holland was at Amsterdam’s Schipol airport.

Mr Vincent previously told the Telegraph its foray into the US was likely to start with Orlando, in Florida.

Its 2015 revenues rose almost 50pc to £36.9m. Profits before tax, interest and other considerations were also up by the same amount, hitting £2.26m. Its 2016 accounts are due in September.

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