Restaurant group targets city centre roll-outs after £13m MBO

The Alchemist

A private equity firm that has just arranged the £13m management buyout of The Alchemist chain has divulged plans to roll out the brand to more UK city centre sites.

Palatine Private Equity announced this week that it is backing the MBO of the Manchester bar and restaurant brand, which was set up by Living Ventures Group.

The deal marks Palatine’s second investment with Living Ventures following its buyout of Gusto last year.

The £10m equity investment from Palatine and £6.5m development and working capital facilities from Santander will enable The Alchemist to develop its existing sites and open new venues in city centre locations. The Alchemist opened last summer in the city and recently extended its Spinningfields, Manchester restaurant, adding an additional 2,500 square feet to meet the increased demand from customers.

Beth Houghton, investment director of Palatine Private Equity, says that the transaction will enable the management team to develop its existing sites and open new venues.

“The Alchemist is a fantastic brand and has developed a strong customer base as a result of its innovative and theatrical cocktail offering,” she said. “The Spinningfields site continues to be one of the highest trading units in Manchester and we look forward to introducing the brand to more city centre locations across the UK.”

The Alchemist first opened its doors in Manchester in 2010 and currently operates two venues in the city centre, as well as sites in Leeds and London. It currently employs 250 staff and achieved sales of £11m last year.

Formed in 1999 by Tim Bacon and Jeremy Roberts, Living Ventures own some of the UK’s most talked about brands including Australasia, Blackhouse, Gusto, The New World Trading Company, Manchester House and Artisan.

Both Bacon and Roberts will maintain an active role in the business, with Bacon taking on the position as chairman and Roberts becoming a non-executive director. As part of the investment, Palatine’s managing partner Gary Tipper and investment director Beth Houghton will both join the board of the company as non-executive directors.

Bacon said: “The Alchemist is a very strong brand which offers a unique customer experience.  With the investment from Palatine we will be able to make The Alchemist a recognised brand throughout the UK.”

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